Remembering Laura Moffatt, 1974-2023

Publishing operations manager Laura Lyn Moffatt (1974-2023) with editor Elsa Lam’s infant son.

As our team puts together this month’s issue of Canadian Architect, our hearts are heavy with the loss of a beloved colleague. Publishing operations manager Laura Lyn Moffatt (1974-2023) passed away in late April, after a brief and valiant fight with an aggressive form of cancer.

Laura was born and raised east of Toronto. Her first job out of high school was on the factory floor of General Motors. It was a predominantly male environment, and Laura was taken under the wing of several of the men around—fathers themselves, who perhaps saw their own daughters in Laura and felt similarly protective of her. The experience gave Laura a strong work ethic and commitment to collegiality that continued throughout her career.

After completing a degree at Durham College, Laura took on a contract position with Southam’s magazine group. Her role was to train publishers on a new customer relationship management software. Many of her trainees were reluctant technological adopters, and leading them through the software required patient explanation, often over multiple sessions.

Laura’s diligence and abilities to take on an increasing number of roles and responsibilities soon landed her a full-time job at Southam, and she continued in the business-to-business magazine division after it became a separate company, Business Information Group. When that company in turn was dismantled, she was hired by Alex Papanou, who continued on as the owner of Canadian Architect, Canadian Interiors, and Building magazines.

Over the past near-decade that I’ve had the pleasure of working with Laura, she has deftly managed all facets of the busy production of three magazines. From coordination with the printer and overseeing the websites, to deploying newsletters and e-blast campaigns, to processing credit card payments and downloading award entries, Laura was involved in everything. She was the person who the others in the company e-mailed multiple times a day with questions and requests of all kinds. When a deadline was slipping, she’d be the one to remind us—or, at other times, to perform the behind-the-scenes coordination needed with the printer, advertisers, and web to nudge production back by a day or two.

All of this would be done with the utmost professionalism and an unfailing attention to detail. Although I never saw Laura get angry, she would certainly get frustrated if others didn’t do their part—her personal standards were high for working hard and getting things done, and she had little tolerance for others slacking off. But even then, the team’s success was foremost in her concerns, and she wouldn’t hesitate to drop everything to help a colleague who was in genuine need.

While I wasn’t well acquainted with Laura outside of work, I do know that she was an expert quilter. She organized a surprise office baby shower for me when I was pregnant with my son, and I was presented with a beautifully handmade baby blanket. I remember her telling me afterwards how difficult it was to find gender-neutral baby fabrics—my partner and I had decided not to tell if we were having a boy or a girl. But she persisted, and found a fabric with animals on a lime-green background, which became the centrepiece for a composition in purple, green, and yellow, with orange fleece backing.

Laura’s fatal illness came about swiftly. She wasn’t feeling well in December—maybe COVID, she thought—and missed the company’s holiday luncheon. In January, she was diagnosed with stage two cancer. Following a seemingly successful surgery and rehabilitation, the cancer returned and spread; several rounds of chemotherapy failed to eradicate it before Laura succumbed.

Laura passed far too young, and will be sorely missed by her colleagues and family—for all that she did, but most of all, for the kind, generous, and determined person that she was.