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In Memoriam: Amber Harkins

You may not recall her name, but if you’re reading this magazine, you’re familiar with Amber Harkins and her work.

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A letter from the Publisher

You may not recall her name, but if you’re reading this magazine, you’re familiar with Amber Harkins and her work. For seven years, Amber worked on East Coast Living, joining the magazine in its earliest days. As editor and creative director, she shaped its tone, its look, its style and its warmth. 

Amber Harkins 1972–2012

We lost Amber to cancer on February 26. She was just 40. It’s cruel to lose anyone so young; Amber had such spirit and creative energy—it’s a darker world without her in it. A few years ago, Amber left our team to pursue other adventures. Many of the team from the old days stayed friends with her; she became one of my best friends. We passed countless hours working on magazines together, talking and joking, travelling and having countless adventures. I’ll miss her dearly, especially her energy, her compassion for others and her witty sense of humor. She started off as a colleague but left as a friend.

Yet as we work on this issue, we feel that something of her is still here with us in East Coast Living. Amber worked on countless titles and projects over the years, but East Coast Living was always her baby. An artistic soul, Amber had a unique way of looking at the world, and seeing the beauty in everything—whether it was a work of art, or a passing glimpse of an elderly couple holding hands. So much of what the magazine is now—its focus on the best things about life in Atlantic Canada, its sense of whimsy, its artful grace—is the direct result of her painstaking work to grow and shape it in its infancy.

And while Amber would hate having the attention on her, it’s fitting that I’m writing this for this particular issue. East Coast Living’s spring issues were always Amber’s favourite to work on. She loved the notion of Atlantic Canada shaking off the frost, emerging from a winter slumber and rediscovering its glory. Bright colours, lush photos of blooming flowers, heartwarming stories of reunions and restored homes—life, vitality and renewal were the themes she embraced in this magazine.

After Amber’s tenure as editor, East Coast Living continued to grow and evolve. It isn’t the same magazine now that it was then, and it won’t be the same magazine it is now in a few years. Change is a part of life—sometimes, as our team is experiencing now—a very hard part. But while many things change and evolve, that spirit, that special quality, that Amber imbued in East Coast Living, and in the lives of her friends and family, will continue and inspire us.

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