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Paul Jones and Rona Maynard in the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse at UC
Paul Jones and Rona Maynard. Photo by Susan King

Paul Jones & Rona Maynard

English majors met each other on stage

They met performing in Chekhov’s The Seagull at the UC Playhouse. Rona Maynard (BA 1972 UC), now editor of Chatelaine, played the melancholy Masha, while Paul Jones (BA 1972 UC), now publisher of Maclean’s, played her father and “comic relief.”

“My first lines were, ‘I’m in mourning for my life. I am unhappy,'” says Maynard.

“I thought they had pretty well typecast Rona, and I wasn’t terribly interested in her,” says Jones.

“I didn’t take much notice of him one way or another,” says Maynard. “I had sworn off men at that stage, really as a consequence of being in mourning for my life.”

A cast party at Maynard’s campus co-op changed the fate of the two English majors. “I still wasn’t interested in him,” says Maynard, “but he showed up at my door the next evening. He later told me the reason he set his sights on me was that he and I were the most intelligent people in the room.. I thought he was a person of strong character, completely trustworthy and principled. I had never dated anyone who was an intellectual match for me. I needed a sparring partner, I guess, and hadn’t found one.”

The couple appeared in another show, Sartre’s No Exit, with Arlene Perly (BA 1971 UC, MA 1972), who later married Bob Rae. Maynard and Jones married in October 1970 on Maynard’s 21st birthday. They had a son, Ben, while both were in fourth year.

While at U of T, Maynard faced her parents’ divorce. Her mother, Fredelle, had established a profile as a feminist magazine journalist, and her father, Max, as a professor and painter. Her sister, Joyce, later became famous for penning an autobiography of her affair with writer J.D. Salinger.

Jones, it seems, struck the right note of comic relief and dependability for the intense Maynard. “I think I brought to her a basically benign view of the world: that the world is what it is and we should be serene about it.”

Their 30-year relationship has seen Maynard and Jones rise to the helms of two of the largest and most successful magazines in Canadian publishing. As a result of their relationship, both say they have a larger and deeper understanding of the magazine business – Maynard of the business side, and Jones of the editorial side.

The couple have taken great pains to avoid leveraging their connection into power or publicity. Indeed, in an industry as incestuous as publishing, it’s remarkable that there have been next to no magazine articles about their union. The one time they found themselves working together, at Maclean’s, where Jones had been posted and Maynard already worked, Maynard quit. Though the two work for the same company, Rogers Communications, they avoid sitting on committees together whenever possible, and Jones says they have never “done lunch.”

“People think that he and I are a little cabal, and we’re not,” says Maynard. “I have a great deal of respect for his independence, and it is returned to me.”

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