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CASE STUDY 2: Watch Magazine | 1994 Images



Expertise: Editing, start-ups, youth media, content development, art direction, design and layout, investigative journalism.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1994 and 1996

Editor-in-Chief: David South

A sample of covers, content and layout from the magazine:

A selection of covers from Watch Magazine in 1994.

A brief description of the covers below:  

"Crackdown!": Youth Gangs Cover

In 1994, with Canada’s economy still in the doldrums, Watch Magazine exploded into Toronto’s high schools. Staffed by talented youth, it shook up the staid publishing scene and proved young people did have something to say. This first issue still remains relevant, with its exploration of youth gangs and violence in the school system.  

Therapy Cover

After its successful launch, Watch Magazine was grabbing readers and getting the attention of advertisers and television. It was time to improve the design and introduce the latest in graphic design software. The results paid off: the magazine looked sharper and quickly ran from its cheeky launch, when we had basically avoided all traditional approaches to a launch (like actually having a designer).

For anoraks out there, this photo shoot with Irish band Therapy took place outside the former Wellesley Hospital emergency department in Toronto. And, yes, that is a genuine restraining 'straitjacket' used by psychiatric hospitals to restrain mental health patients.  

Digable Planets Cover

By this issue, Watch had hit its stride: we were the first to seriously review the ballooning zine culture, get immersed in the rave and late-night party scene, and dig deep into “chopsocky world”: Hong Kong and Asian film fans. But “Hip-Hop Comb-munism”? What were we thinking?

It was also the biggest issue to date.  

Beck Cover

Highly talented Beck gave Watch his eloquent thoughts on the media’s infatuation with Generation X and how it always desperately needs to sell young people more stuff. Watch took on Ontario’s film censors over the GG Allin documentary, Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies, and let students across the city blow off steam on life in the 1990s. 

Bass is Base Cover

By October 1994 the magazine’s investigative powers were in full flow. Two investigations - a sex scandal at an alternative school, and whether the Battle of the Bands contests, a fixture at most high schools, are really worth it - joined a profile of the band Bass is Base and more coverage on the growing rave scene in Toronto. 

Generation Y cover.

Generation Y Cover

Features Editor Miranda Bujas boldly took on the 'loser' label in "Take your loser label and shove it". The 'loser' label was aimed scattershot at all youth by the media at the time. She wrote, "Hype. Hype. Hype. Fact and fiction have intertwined in the media's myth-making machine to spew out a manufactured generation: Generation X. But is X a useful label or a term open to many interpretations, leaving advertisers, academics, and the youth it labels dazed and confused?"  She got people's attention with that feature, and was invited to discuss her views and the mood of 1990s youth on Toronto's City TV (while wearing one of the magazine's popular logo t-shirts: a big publicity boost for the start-up magazine on the make). 

Oasis cover.

Oasis Cover

In 1994, Oasis were still an indie band with a lot of bottle and big mouths. Riding a tsunami of hype from the UK, they washed up in North America to face their biggest challenge: could they become as big as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? Lead singer Liam Gallagher does not disappoint, as he gives me an expletive-laden exposition on everything under the sun.

This was the first published print interview with the band in Canada.

Sloan cover.

Sloan Cover

Canada’s answer to the ‘Madchester’ scene of the early 1990s, Sloan, played the pop game with gusto. In the photo shoot for the feature, it was pants down and prayer hands to an unseen religious icon.

Style Showdown cover.

Style Showdown Cover

As the magazine increased its profits and expanded, it could also afford to build its own dedicated photo studio and style elaborate photo shoots for its growing fashion section. The magazine was now full colour and had to up its game in the quality of the fashion shoots. 

Investigative Journalism and Features 

A snapshot of the many investigative features in Watch Magazine.

Music Interviews and Profiles

Watch Magazine quickly became the credible go-to source for original interviews with bands and artists. As an example, British pop success Oasis gave their first interview in Canada to Watch. Other bands would drop by and hang out at Watch's groovy Toronto 'Crib', catching its youth vibe.

Fashion Section

As Watch Magazine became commercially successful, it could afford to up its game with full-colour fashion shoots, usually featuring Toronto's young designers.

Supplements and Special Features

As Watch Magazine grew, it included many firsts, from Toronto's first snowboard supplement, to honest information on drugs, to the first reports on the burgeoning Internet cafe scene. As writers Amanda Cox and Maureen Rice wrote, "The powers-that-be think we should cocoon in our houses and rent videos, play with the Internet and order in food - most people disagree." All these years later, the story still resonates.

Masthead and Team Photos

Watch Magazine's talented team of contributors defied youth stereotypes: their verve, enthusiasm and hard work made the magazine a success.

In 2013, the Watch Magazine feature "Peace, Order and Good Pot" by Bill White was included in the book Recollections of a Neighbourhood: Huron-Sussex, from UTS to Stop Spadina published by Words Indeed. 

In 2017, the Watch Magazine feature "Peace, Order and Good Pot" by Bill White was included in the book Busted: An Illustrated History of Drug Prohibition in Canada by Susan Boyd published by Fernwood Publishing.


1994: Hired to re-launch and expand Watch Magazine in Toronto.

1996: Hired to re-develop editorial content for Watch Magazine’s national launch.  


“As one of those high school kids and the guy who wrote (most of) this article, I'd like to say thanks to David [South] for all his hard work on Watch magazine! I learned a lot from him and it was a great experience.” William White

Watch Magazine Editor-in-Chief David South photographed at Toronto's Beaches neighbourhood in 1994. Watch Magazine was Toronto's first youth culture media start-up and led the way on Toronto's revival after the economic crisis of the early 1990s. Photo: Margaret South.

Note: Complete issues of the magazine's first year await professional digital scanning. This could be of interest to a library, scholar or university interested in archiving this authentic artifact of 1990s youth culture. Please send an email if you would like to get in touch or share a thoughtmailto: 


© David South Consulting 2017