The Municipal World (CIHM 8_06700) has the distinction of being the oldest continuously published monthly municipal magazine in the world. It is also one of only a handful of Canadian magazines that has been publishing throughout three centuries. Indeed 120 years after its inception, it is still going strong, and a perusal of some of the fascinating articles found in the 108 issues currently available on Early Canadiana Online (ECO), quickly explains its exceptional longevity.
The Municipal World began under a different title—The Municipal Miscellany. Founded in Jan. 1891 in Arnprior, Ont. by George E. Neilson, The Municipal Miscellany was published for 12 issues before it was sold to K.W. McKay, who moved operations to St. Thomas, Ont., and renamed it The Municipal World.
The magazine is devoted to promoting effective municipal government and is targeted at municipal officials (both elected and appointed), engineers, school trustees, public boards and committees, consultants, etc. The present-day Municipal World is geared towards municipalities across Canada, but the early issues available on ECO (Jan. 1892-Dec. 1900) focus solely on Ontario municipalities.
The Municipal World offers information on all aspects relating to municipal functioning – from guidelines for conducting of council meetings to the development and management of roads, sewage systems, electricity lines, etc. It also reports news from various municipalities, such as council decisions, recent appointments and retirements.
I found several items of interest in the issues I sampled. For instance, an article on p. 3 of the Jan. 1892 issue (reprinted from The Signal), titled “A house of refuge badly needed” protests a “brutal system” in place in Huron County, whereby elderly persons, whose only “crime” is that they are impoverished and have no one to take them in, are committed as criminals to jail. “It has been shown that some six or eight aged poor and infirm have been quartered in the jail, many of them for a term of years ...” I was amazed that this treatment of the elderly existed in what is, after all, relatively recent history. Equally interesting was the fact that the argument for ending this practice was made mainly on economic, rather than humanitarian grounds.
Genealogists, those interested in the history of urban planning and management, as well as local and social historians, will likely find much of interest in The Municipal World.