Ottawa At Home Magazine celebrates 20th anniversary with final issue

Publisher, editor in chief Mary Taggart to focus on her writing career

Mary Taggart, (centre) publisher and editor in chief of Ottawa At Home Magazine, enjoys a laugh with Tanya Connolly-Holmes (left), creative director at Great River Media, and food columnist Paula Roy at a party held Tuesday, June 4, 2024, at the Fairmont Château Laurier's La Terrasse to celebrate the 20th anniversary and final issue of the local home, lifestyle and food publication. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Mary Taggart, (centre) publisher and editor in chief of Ottawa At Home Magazine, enjoys a laugh with Tanya Connolly-Holmes (left), creative director at Great River Media, and food columnist Paula Roy at a party held Tuesday, June 4, 2024, at the Fairmont Château Laurier's La Terrasse to celebrate the 20th anniversary and final issue of the local home, lifestyle and food publication. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Editor's Note

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Mary Taggart, publisher and editor in chief of Ottawa At Home, had much to celebrate on Tuesday at a party she hosted to mark 20 years of a magazine that’s amplified the heartbeat of homes across Ottawa while also capturing the pulse of our city.

Under her leadership, the publication has evolved beyond its initial focus on housing decor into a leading lifestyle magazine full of stories about interesting people and places.

The cinq à sept was held at a venue that offers views to die for: the Fairmont Château Laurier’s La Terrasse. It’s right next to Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal Locks, overlooking the Ottawa River. It has a cooling misting system and ample shade for heat waves like the one this week.

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The Nick Gummeson jazz trio performed during the 20th anniversary reception that Ottawa At Home magazine hosted at the Fairmont Château Laurier’s outdoor patio restaurant, La Terrasse, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The latest issue of Ottawa At Home is also the last. Taggart decided to end the publication while she still felt good about it. “It just felt like the right time,” she said while acknowledging the precariousness of the industry.

“I love the magazine so much,” she said of her labour of love that she and Jennifer Tackaberry, her vice president of sales and marketing, have poured their hearts into. 

Taggart made it clear that she’s “very excited” about her next career chapter. “I’m moving on,” she said enthusiastically of her passion for fiction writing. She told everyone that the next bash she throws will be to celebrate her first novel. She then promised to invite them all (with the expectation they purchase copies, of course).

Mary Taggart, publisher and editor in chief of Ottawa At Home magazine, with her vice president of sales and marketing, Jennifer Tackaberry, at a party held Tuesday, June 4, 2024, at the Fairmont Château Laurier’s La Terrasse to celebrate the 20th anniversary and final issue of the local home, lifestyle and food publication. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Mary Taggart, editor in chief and publisher of Ottawa At Home magazine, addresses guests during a special party at Fairmont Château Laurier’s La Terrasse on Tuesday, June 4, 2024, to celebrate the 20th anniversary and final issue of her decor, lifestyle and food magazine. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ottawa At Home hosted an event at the Fairmont Château Laurier’s La Terrasse on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 to celebrate its 20th anniversary and final issue of the local home, lifestyle and food publication. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ottawa At Home publisher and editor in chief Mary Taggart gathers for a group photo with some of the writers, photographers and other individuals involved with the 20-year-old magazine over the years during an anniversary party held Tuesday, June 4, 2024, at the Fairmont Château Laurier’s outdoor patio restaurant, La Terrasse. Photo by Caroline Phillips

At the podium, Taggart spoke off the cuff and from the heart, stopping at one point to scoop her wandering little granddaughter Birdie into her arms, with barely any interruption. 

For those who don’t know Taggart, she’s a magnetic woman. Who knew there was another Mary in this world who could turn the world on with her smile, all 1000 watts of it.

She specifically thanked her husband Chris Taggart, president of Tamarack Homes and Tartan Homes, for his steadfast support. “God bless him, this man,” she said of her childhood sweetheart. The mother of four grown children and grandmother of five (with another on the way) expressed gratitude to son Danial Taggart and daughter Olivia Taggart. They were both a big help to her with Ottawa At Home, despite having careers and young children of their own.

Mary Taggart, publisher and editor in chief of Ottawa At Home magazine, at a 20th anniversary magazine party with son Danial Taggart (CFO at Taggart Group of Companies), daughter Olivia Taggart (development officer at The Ottawa Hospital Foundation), and husband Chris Taggart (president of Tamarack Homes and Tartan Homes), all of whom have been of great support to the magazine’s success under Taggart’s leadership. Photo by Caroline Phillips

She paid tribute to her parents, David and Mary Lindsay, and to her late father-in-law Harold Taggart, founder of what is now Taggart Group of Companies. She learned a lot from the way he lived his life. At his funeral many years ago, the topic of conversation wasn’t about his business success, she said, but about what a great guy he was, and how much he loved his family. “And I thought to myself, at the end of the day that’s all that really matters.”

It was lovely to watch the warm hug shared between Taggart and her friend and former boss Mayor Mark Sutcliffe. Prior to politics, Sutfliffe had a very diverse career that included being business partners with OBJ publisher Michael Curran at Great River Media. It owned Ottawa At Home when they first hired Taggart as editor in 2009. 

Taggart had applied after her good friend Korey Kealey had seen the posting and encouraged her to go for it.

Mary Taggart’s connection to Ottawa At Home magazine began after her good friend Korey Kealey (realtor with the Kealey Group at RE/MAX) encouraged her to apply for the vacant position of editor. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Even though Taggart lacked a formal background in journalism, Curran and his associate, Terry Tyo, were very impressed by her during the job interview, and felt she could take the publication to the next level. “I think Terry and I just looked at her and got a sense of who she was and, effectively, the power of her personality and intellect,” Curran told OBJ.social.

Joked Sutcliffe at the podium: “It was very easy being Mary’s boss because, let’s face it, she was really our boss. I think you all understand what I’m talking about. We worked for Mary when it came to Ottawa At Home magazine because she had a passion and vision for it.”

Taggart did an “amazing” job, Sutcliffe continued. “At a certain point, we all decided she should just take it and run with it, and that you didn’t need us anymore.”

Taggart purchased the magazine from Great River Media in late 2015. “The success continued from there,” said Sutcliffe, while also recognizing what wonderful leaders Taggart and Chris have been in the broader community.

Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe presents Ottawa At Home magazine publisher and editor in chief Mary Taggart a framed letter of congratulations on the 20th anniversary of her local home, lifestyle and food publication, during a party held at the Fairmont Château Laurier’s La Terrasse on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe gives Mary Taggart, publisher and editor in chief of Ottawa At Home magazine, a big hug at the 20th anniversary of the local home, lifestyle and food magazine, which has just put out its last issue. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Taggart spoke of how proud she is of Ottawa At Home for showcasing “the heartbeat of the home and the heart of the city”. Readers have routinely recognized at least one person featured in each issue, she added. “It didn’t matter if they lived in the far west end or the far east end, or on the Gatineau side; somebody could always find somebody in the publication that they knew. Because that’s who we are: we’re a city where everybody knows each other.”

Jennifer Tackaberry publicly thanked Taggart for her “outstanding leadership, inspiration and joyful spirit”. She recognized her boss’s vision and dedication for being key to the magazine’s success. “Thank you for allowing me to be part of your journey. It’s truly been a privilege to work with you.”

Magazine contributors included broadcaster, writer, emcee and podcast host Catherine Clark, who’s been profiling community builders for Ottawa At Home for the past 15 years. “Mary was a terrific publisher who gave writers a lot of leeway,” Clark, president of Catherine Clark Communications, told OBJ.socal while expressing her gratitude. “I’ll miss the magazine a lot.”

Taggart is also credited for giving Ottawa wardrobe consultant Mary Ciancibello her first shot in the media, hiring her to write about style-related topics. She’s always been “super supportive and encouraging,” said Ciancibello, who coincidentally shares the same first name as her mentor. 

“There are a lot of Marys,” she pointed out before adding: “But not a lot of Mary Taggarts. Individuals like her are rare.”

From left, Fairmont Château Laurier general manager Geneviève Dumas and former hotel team member Deneen Perrin, director of public affairs, government relations and stakeholder engagement for the Royal Canadian Mint, at the 20th anniversary party for Ottawa At Home magazine, held at the hotel’s outdoor patio restaurant, La Terrasse. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, Erin Clatney (director of Parlour restaurant and event space, and of DISH Catering), Natasha Canniff (operations and studio director at 2H Interior), Danielle Hannah (designer/partner at 2H Interior) and Charlotte DePonte (sales and event director at Parlour and DISH) at the 20th anniversary party for Ottawa At Home magazine, held at the the Fairmont Château Laurier’s outdoor patio restaurant, La Terrasse. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Janet Wilson (left), a former newspaper style editor, enjoys a laugh with Claire Greenberg at the 20th anniversary party for Ottawa At Home magazine, held at the hotel’s outdoor patio restaurant, La Terrasse. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, Catherine McLaughlin, events and activations manager at Fairmont Château Laurier, with Krista Kealey, vice president of communications and public affairs at the Ottawa International Airport, and Lori Wagner, director of sales and marketing at the Fairmont Château Laurier, at the 20th anniversary party for Ottawa At Home magazine, held at the hotel’s outdoor patio restaurant, La Terrasse. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Catherine Clark, long-time contributor to Ottawa At Home magazine and president of Catherine Clark Communications, and her husband, Chad Schella, associate vice president of government relations for CIBC, at the Fairmont Château Laurier for the 20th anniversary party for Ottawa At Home magazine, held at the hotel’s outdoor patio restaurant, La Terrasse. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, Lianne Laing, president of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation, Julie Findlay, Mom in the Know blogger, and Lindsay Firestone, director of community engagement and development the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation, at the 20th anniversary reception that Ottawa At Home magazine hosted at the Fairmont Château Laurier’s outdoor patio restaurant, La Terrasse, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, Ottawa wardrobe consultant Mary Ciancibello and  photographer Christina MacPherson of Tia Photography at the 20th anniversary reception that Ottawa At Home magazine hosted at the Fairmont Château Laurier’s outdoor patio restaurant, La Terrasse, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ottawa At Home hosted an event at the Fairmont Château Laurier’s La Terrasse on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 to celebrate its 20th anniversary and final issue of the local home, lifestyle and food publication. Photo by Caroline Phillips
From left, David Gourlay, CEO of Shepherds of Good Hope Foundation, former Ottawa mayor Jim Watson and OBJ publisher Michael Curran at the 20th anniversary reception that Ottawa At Home magazine hosted at the Fairmont Château Laurier’s outdoor patio restaurant, La Terrasse, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ottawa At Home hosted an event at the Fairmont Château Laurier’s La Terrasse on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 to celebrate its 20th anniversary and final issue of the local home, lifestyle and food publication. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Ottawa At Home hosted an event at the Fairmont Château Laurier’s La Terrasse on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 to celebrate its 20th anniversary and final issue of the local home, lifestyle and food publication. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Fiorella Di Nardo-Nocita of Salon Fiorella with her three-year-old daughter Apélonia Nocita at the 20th anniversary reception that Ottawa At Home magazine hosted at the Fairmont Château Laurier’s outdoor patio restaurant, La Terrasse, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Jennifer Tackaberry, vice president of sales and marketing at Ottawa At Home magazine, delivered a heartfelt thank you to her boss, publisher and editor and chief Mary Taggart, at the magazine’s 20th anniversary, held Tuesday, June 4, 2024. Photo by Caroline Phillips

caroline@obj.ca

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