After 90 years, venerable history magazine The Beaver is getting a new moniker, in part because of the sexual connotation of its name.
The Winnipeg-based publication will be relaunched in the spring as Canada’s History.
The innuendo of the old name was causing problems for the magazine online, said Deborah Morrison, president and CEO of Canada’s National History Society, which publishes The Beaver.
“Because of the sexual connotations that this next generation of Canadians have adopted for the name, ’The Beaver,’ there were some very practical challenges,” she said.
“Every once in awhile we would have readers call and say: ’You know, you’ve got to do something about the name.”’
Some readers, she said, complained that the magazine’s electronic newsletters were landing in their spam folder.
A look at visits to the magazine’s website also indicated the name was confusing to some, added Morrison.
“We noticed monitoring our web traffic that the average visitor time to our website was eight seconds. And I have a feeling that might be because a lot of people going to the site weren’t exactly looking for Canadian history content,” she said.
“In this day and age, in this multimedia universe, being clear about who you are and what it is you’re selling is really important.”
Morrison also said market research strongly indicated that some readers — particularly women and readers under age 45 — were turned off by the title of the magazine, which was created by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a staff newsletter in 1920.
“It was obviously a problem. That’s what the data was,” she said.
“This is a significant change in the 90-year history of an organization. We did extensive research.”
While traditionalists might balk at the reason for the name change, University of Toronto Prof. David Dunne noted that the Internet has forced companies to completely alter the way they market their products.
“The world has changed from one in which manufacturers — or in this case, publishers and advertisers — control brands, to one in which the best they can do is influence the discourse about a brand,” said Dunne, a marketing professor at U of T’s Rotman School of Business.
“You don’t have control but you do have some influence.”
An official news release from The Beaver didn’t mention the sexual connotation as the reason for the name change.
“We want to make it easier for history enthusiasts to find us,” editor-in-chief Mark Reid said in a statement. “Whether it’s through any one of our print publications or online.”
The Beaver, which boasts a subscriber base of 50,000 and an estimated total readership of more than 350,000, will make the change in April.
The magazine features stories, columns and commentaries as well as historic maps and illustrations.