What Reader’s Digest Canada Has Meant to Me

To mark our 75th anniversary, we invited Canadians to share their fondest memories of Reader's Digest.

Readers Digest Canada 75th AnniversaryIllustration: Drew Shannon

My grandpa sold magazines, and beginning when I was four, my parents left them out for me to discover. I learned to sound out words from Reader’s Digest. A sense of humour was a big deal in my household growing up, so my favourite sections were Laughter, the Best Medicine and Life’s Like That. Now I’m in my early seventies and the real-life stories are still very inspiring for me. Because all those people shared their stories over the years with your readers, it led me to realize that every day is an adventure. I didn’t climb mountains or bungee jump, but the many experiences my husband and two sons had were difficult and scary enough to prompt me to write my life story this year. Thank you to Reader’s Digest for raising me and pointing me in a positive direction. — Jean Morby

In 1992, during my first year of college, I was overwhelmed and called my grandma to tell her how I missed being able to read what I wanted to for enjoyment. A few weeks later I received a brown envelope in the mail with a copy of Reader’s Digest and a five-dollar bill. There was a note included that said, “Take a break, grab a tea and enjoy the jokes, quips and stories. You got this, my girl.” She gifted me a year’s subscription that Christmas, too. She passed away last year and every time I see the magazine at the library or in a bookstore, I remember her and the gift of time she gave me. — Miranda O’Krane

Reader's Digest Canada - April 1959 issueReader's Digest Canada

When I got married in 1956, I moved from Quebec City to North Bay, Ontario, with my new husband, an officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force. My mother paid for my first subscription, the French-language edition, because she was worried that I would forget how to speak the language. I’m now 91 years old. We have travelled across Canada from east to west and every year I faithfully renew my subscription. I switched to English for a few years, and even bought the Spanish version from a special bookstore when we were learning different languages. I carry this little book everywhere I go—it’s good company. — Suzanne Drolet

Growing up, my parents kept a stack of magazines on the corner of our kitchen counter and there was always a copy or two of Reader’s Digest nestled in there. I loved all the sections of the magazine. My favourite departments were the true survival stories and the vocabulary challenges. To this day, the term “musquirt” (the yellow liquid that shoots out of the container of mustard should you dare not shake it first) makes me laugh, and I’ve passed the term onto my three boys. I now have my own house with my own magazines. Some are stacked on the footrest and others, given the times, are stored on my iPad. Your magazine will always be in the pile. — Michelle MacDonald 

Reader's Digest Canada - January 1969 issueReader's Digest Canada

I was nine years old in 1967, sitting in the lobby of the hospital while my dad was dying of cancer. I was instantly taken away from my sorrow while I read every issue of Reader’s Digest I found lying about. With all sincerity, I will be forever grateful for those Reader’s Digests, which gave me something else to focus on. — Rita Taylor 

I started reading Reader’s Digest while in waiting rooms and sometimes was annoyed when I was called in the middle of a great story. The articles are the perfect length. The puzzles and word games keep my brain active, which is much needed as I’m now in my fifties. — Shawn Hammond 

Reader’s Digest kicked off my successful career in business. At nine years old, I canvassed my neighbourhood selling subscriptions. I even had a rubber stamp made with my name and address to make things look more professional. Later, I went on to have a career in business and became a professor at Seneca College in the international business
department. — Jeff Gazen

Each night I read to my husband from Reader’s Digest. He is now in the late stages of Parkinson’s disease and has lost the ability to read and retain longer passages. This is a blow for a voracious reader who could read a few books in a week. Every night we open the issue and enjoy shared moments of reading, reflection and discussion. Sometimes I’ll read a short “Good News” story. Occasionally he requests a longer, real-life piece. At other times we just read the jokes. It gives us a calm evening in these difficult times. — Colleen Ireland

Triumph Of Janis Babson - Readers Digest CanadaReader's Digest Canada

“The Triumph of Janis Babson,” published in the June 1963 issue of Reader’s Digest, made a lasting impression on me. It was about a young girl who had leukemia and wished to donate her eyes to the Eye Bank of Canada. My driver’s license reflects my own wish to pledge my eyes to science, as a direct result of Janis’s story. — Kathy Stoddart

Reader’s Digest was my father’s birthday gift to me each year. We were a middle-class family with a carefully planned budget, but we always had room for the magazine. When I became a high school teacher, I would bring an issue to my English literature class and share stories with the students. Over the years, I found the students catching on to the lighter side of life, incorporating these ideas, thoughts and humour in their writing. — Mala Thapar

My subscription to Reader’s Digest began in the 1970s and I’ve kept every issue since then. I even became a scuba diver after being inspired by articles that grew my curiosity and love of the ocean. — Charleen Hall

My mother Liza was a Holocaust survivor, and English was her fourth language, after Romanian, Yiddish and German. She lived in a displaced persons camp in Austria after the Second World War, where she often served as an interpreter between the American soldiers and the Austrian locals. She and my father came to Canada in 1948, and I was born in 1952. From a very early age, I remember seeing copies of Reader’s Digest around the house, which she read to improve her English. When I was assigned to do a project for school, she often helped me come up with ideas using the magazine. My mother is gone, but Reader’s Digest still arrives in my mailbox every month, and I think she’d be happy to know that. — Gilda Spitz

Reader's Digest Canada - December 1999 issueReader's Digest Canada

In the April 1977 issue of Reader’s Digest, I read the article, “How Will You Know Unless I Tell You,” about receiving kind words from people you wouldn’t expect and how much it means to the receiver. I kept and thought about it a lot. It inspired me to send my favourite uncle, Orval Wilson, a Father’s Day card that year, to thank him for all the things he had done for me over my life. He died shortly afterwards from brain cancer, but my aunt said it meant a lot to him to know how much I loved him. — Andrea Ireland

For my birthday, my father gifted me a lifetime subscription to Reader’s Digest. I am now 92 years old and I’ve never missed a delivery, from Montreal to Dartmouth. — Virginia Cameron

Reader’s Digest was the first magazine I can remember coming in the mail. As a young girl, I loved reading the quotes, the jokes and the funny stories. I am so, so glad that the magazine gets to celebrate 75 years. I hope it’s around for many more so my grandchildren can experience the joy of reading it, too. — Ruth Boudreau

I started reading Reader’s Digest as a teenager, as my mother was a lifetime subscriber. Once she finished an issue, I would devour it. The magazine has continually educated me, made me laugh and had me question things. There is nothing as satisfying as curling up on a couch or bed with it in hand. — Andrea Feese

Tina Turner sums up my thoughts with the title of her song, “The Best”—that’s precisely what Reader’s Digest is. — Laura Gendron-McDougall

Next, take a look back at one of the most popular Reader’s Digest stories of all time, “Treasure Hunt: The Mystery of Oak Island.”

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada