2008 Alumnae Achievement Award Recipient: Annabel (Gerald) Slaight '58
The Right Stuff
Annabel (Gerald) Slaight '58 did not do well in school. The irony is not lost on the co-founder of Owl Magazines, Books and TV. She laughs as she recalls the teenage version of herself: "I didn't get to be a winner of the Alumnae Achievement Award from what I managed to do in Grade 12. 'E' for failure in math, can you believe it?"
Despite her own dismal grades, Annabel gives Crofton House School top marks. She says, "While I did so badly in terms of marks, I learned so much."
Her publishing career began at CHS with a small newspaper that was written, illustrated, and distributed by Annabel and her friends. The Croftonian Crumbs, complete with its own gossip column called Lucifer's Lips, was the first of many publications that Annabel would establish.
After attending the Faculty of Education at UBC (and not receiving very good marks there either) and then moving to Toronto to start a career in journalism, Annabel identified a void in the publishing industry. She saw the need for a magazine that could give Canadian kids a sense of their country: "Something that they could feel belongs to them," she explains. Soon after, Annabel co-founded OWL, followed by Chickadee, Chirp and Treehouse Family Magazines. Her ambitions led her then to establish Owl Books and Owl/TV, reaching a whole new generation of Canadian kids.
Contributing to the wellness of the Canadian identity is only one of Annabel's great achievements. She is also chair of the Shaw Rocket Fund, which provides financing for children's television programming, and was a winner of the Canadian Film and Television's Lifetime Achievement Award and a recipient of the Order of Ontario.
Annabel now adds calendar girl to her list of credits. She co-founded the Ladies of the Lake who, in 2006, created a calendar to raise money and awareness for Lake Simcoe, where she now lives. Featuring "cheeky, but not cheesy" photographs of nude women along the shores of the lake, the calendar raised $250,000 for the preservation of the lake. A 2009 calendar is in the works.
She says, "Through(out) my life, starting in school and beyond, I haven't wanted to be a star. I don't think of myself as a leader. I think of myself as someone who can help other people do the best that they can do. And as a result I have always managed to be surrounded by people who have fun, enjoy doing the best they can do, and we've really accomplished some stuff."
At least two generations of Canadian kids can attest, and now Lake Simcoe to boot, Annabel Slaight has most definitely accomplished "some stuff".