Welcome to the women’s issue. Or is it the woman’s issue? One thing it is not is the womens’ issue. That’s because even though there is an exception to punctuation rules which says the apostrophe is supposed to come after the final s of a pluralized possessive noun, “women” is an exception to that exception, because it is a plural that doesn’t end in an s. There is no such thing as a group of womens, despite public places being filled with washrooms for them.

This is how an editor makes a living. Most people just pick up a magazine and leaf through, looking for a good place to begin reading—the tip on where to hang a food pack comes to mind. Editors have to think about not hanging modifiers. How low can a preposition dangle before a bear can reach it anyway?

Careful readers of this magazine might be skeptical about claims of grammatical vigilance. I encourage sticklers (and I use that term with respect) to write and point out all the errors of usage and style in this issue. It would be a great way to welcome the new editor and instill a sense of high standards. You see, for this issue I’ve been concerned not just with apostrophes, but also with periods, the things that come at the end of a sentence. Or fragment. Or job. 

With two new small but squirming items to carry over the portage now I’ve decided to shake up my life a little. After five years of editing Canoeroots I’ll be leaving it to a new editor to steer through the February issue and beyond. 

Five years doesn’t sound like much perhaps. After all, it’s only twice as long as one of the canoe trips featured in this issue. But it was long enough to change at least one paddler’s perspective on the sport. When I started at Canoeroots I considered canoeing and isolation to be a natural fit. A canoe was something to take you away from other people. Now I know canoes are even better at bringing people together. The canoeing community is strong when it is connected. As the article on the weakening of the Navigable Waters Protection Act shows, that is important if the values we share and the wild spaces we enjoy will have any supporters.

So by all means, write and tally up all the sentences in this issue that start with a But or an And. Whatever you write, it is a pleasure to know that there are people at the other end of the presses who love canoeing like we do. And now that no one remembers how small the print size was in the Spring 2006 issue, reader emails are our favourite kind. Until I become editor of Friendly and Interesting People Monthly, I won’t expect to be in regular contact with such a great group of readers and enthusiasts.

Finally, I should thank publisher Scott MacGregor and, of course, Bill Gates. To MacGregor for starting Canoeroots and making my job possible; and to Gates, for refusing to add a Canadian dictionary to Microsoft Word’s spell check and making my job necessary. 

This article was originally published in the 2009 Summer/Fall issue of CanoerootsThis article first appeared in the Summer/Fall 2009 issue of Canoeroots Magazine.



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