The Maple Leaf: From the Frontline to Online


The Maple Leaf newspaper has undergone many iterations over the years, continually adapting to the changing media landscape to ensure it remains relevant to its readers. The newspaper embarked on a new venture with the launch of its web site on June 19, with the final print edition set to be published in July. By shifting to the Internet, The Maple Leaf is embracing the changing content consumption habits of its readers, while becoming an environmentally friendly source of information about Defence.

Although The Maple Leaf is moving towards the future, it does so with a sincere appreciation of its storied past.

The Second World War – Canadian Army stories from the Front

The Maple Leaf was originally published during the Second World War as a wartime newspaper for Canadian troops posted overseas. At its origin, the newspaper was geared towards Canadian Army troops on the frontlines, with little oversight from the chain of command. It was meant to inform and entertain a predominantly male audience and some of the content from the original issues would cause an eyebrow (or two) to be raised amongst today’s Defence Team.

Following the end of the war, the beloved paper ceased operations, save for a one-time revival in 1969.

The Maple Leaf rises from the ashes

Prior to the 1968 Unification of the Canadian Forces, each environment had its own newspaper, but one publication reflected the trend toward an integrated military structure. From 1965 until the mid-1990s, The Sentinel magazine told stories of the now-unified and integrated Canadian Forces. Due to budget cuts, The Sentinel ceased operations in 1994. Nonetheless, the need to tell CAF stories remained. In 1997, Bob Quinn and Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret) Yvon Desjardins, among others, took steps toward reviving The Maple Leaf. This time, it was geared towards the Defence Team as a whole. At the time, the turn to a more pan-Defence Team approach was not without controversy. The Army had issues with the use of the name ‘The Maple Leaf’, as it was originally an Army newspaper. Another controversial aspect was the proportion of representation: two pages were allotted to each environment per issue, including content on the civilian workforce, regardless of the ratio of personnel within each command to the Canadian Forces as a whole. Also, even in 1997—prior to the 24-7 news cycle, the advent of social media, and the global move from traditional news sources to digital ones—pressures existed to adhere to a strictly digital format as a cost-saving measure. It was finally decided to hold onto the paper format due to accessibility issues for a great portion of the Defence Team.

Today, however, is a whole different story.

Dawn of a new era – Embracing the digital age

Today’s online version of The Maple Leaf provides an assortment of stories and information for all members of the Defence Team, accessible from anywhere in the world.

The mobile-friendly web site is updated regularly to provide readers with timely, in-depth stories, accompanied by stunning imagery and videos that help tell the story of Canada’s military and the civilians who support them.

All Defence Team members are encouraged to bookmark and to visit often!

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