Up Here magazine, left, and sibling publication Up Here Business are produced in Yellowknife. Up Here was named magazine of the year Friday at the National Magazine Awards. ((CBC))

Up Here magazine has scored Canada's top magazine honour, thanks in part to its status as an "underdog" publication that covers the North from the North, according to its editor.

The Yellowknife-based magazine was named magazine of the year at Canada's annual National Magazine Awards, beating out national publications Maisonneuve and Report on Business.

Editor Aaron Spitzer, publisher Marion Lavigne and other magazine staffers accepted the honour at a ceremony Friday night in Toronto.

"It was incredible to be there and even more incredible to be recognized there," Spitzer told CBC News in an interview Monday.

Up Here, which has highlighted northern culture, lifestyle, arts and travel for the past 26 years, was also nominated in five other National Magazine Award categories this year.

'Real personality' lauded


Editor Aaron Spitzer hopes the award will boost the magazine's circulation and advertising revenue. ((CBC))

The four judges for this year's National Magazine Awards lauded Up Here as having "real personality" and a "strong editorial hand."

"The degree of difficulty in finding the human and other resources to publish, print and distribute from the North only adds to the measure of the accomplishment here," the judging panel stated in a news release.

Based in the N.W.T. capital, with writers in all three of Canada's territories, Up Here is published eight times a year by Up Here Publishing Ltd.

"Unlike Maisonneuve and Report on Business and some of the past winners which win all sorts of awards and have higher circulations and are located in Toronto … we figured we were underdogs," Spitzer said.

"On the other hand, we've always sort of been critical darlings of the insiders in the business, because it's kind of crazy that for a quarter-century we've managed to run a magazine — a quality magazine — out of Yellowknife."

Lost airline contract

The award comes after Canadian North announced that it will no longer carry Up Here as its in-flight magazine, ending a 14-year partnership.

The northern airline says its marketing department will produce its own magazine instead.

Spitzer said Canadian North's business accounted for one-sixth of Up Here's distribution, and that attracted advertisers.

"We're going to be able to parlay that award hopefully into increased circulation," he said.

"Anything that we might have lost through losing that contract, hopefully we'll gain back plus more from having won this award."

Up Here's circulation is about 30,000 across Canada. Spitzer said only about one-third of the magazine's copies are sold in the North; the rest go to bookstores, newsstands and subscribers in the "south."

"So we call ourselves a regional magazine with a national readership," he said.