Thank you to a communityBy Jenn Watt
Published October 3, 2017
Ten years ago this week, I reported for duty as a reporter at the Minden Times. I had recently arrived at my basement apartment on Highway 35 on a cold October evening, leaving behind what seemed to be an overly chaotic life in Toronto.
I grew up in a small town, but thought I might like living in “the big city,” only to find after university that all I really wanted was to be back in the countryside again.
My first city job was as a copy editor in downtown Toronto, where I took a bus to the subway to a streetcar every day to get to work. I whiffed strangers’ armpits as we bounced along Spadina in the summer heat and sat at a cubicle all day where I failed to make the connections to the stories I was craving. I realized I hadn’t seen stars in years and hadn’t experienced total quiet since the last time I visited my dad’s house in southern Ontario.
Driving to Haliburton for my job interview was like a vision. Pushing through the grinding traffic of the 401, it wasn’t until I reached Highway 115 near Peterborough that I felt my shoulders relax. The grey of the highway gave way to the green of the fields and then to the foliage of the forests.
When I nervously mounted the steps to the verandah of the Echo building I thought to myself, this is exactly what I want. Please let me get this job.
As luck would have it, I did.
Within my first few weeks, I reported on a stolen ATV, a new loom for Hyland Crest long-term care centre, wrote a profile on Algonquin Highlands’ new water trails staff and travelled to Lindsay to cover the provincial election (I somehow managed to get into the shot the Lindsay Post ended up using of Rick Johnson congratulating Laurie Scott on her victory).
Within my first few months, I would get my Toyota Echo stuck in my driveway frequently thanks to a daily deluge of snow, learn how to use coin laundry and make friends with the attendants at the landfill (after they kindly pointed out I had missorted my recyclables and could I please shove my hand into the garbage bag and pull out those pop cans?).
When I first started, I would tell people that my intention was to “stick around” for five years, which I deemed was the appropriate amount of time to learn about a community. Now, 10 years later (with a few changes in job description), I find there is still much more to learn.
I still wonder at local mysteries I’ve yet to report on. What are the Harburn Wells? Where is this Toronto streetcar on Kennaway Road and why is it there? Will Mike Myers ever come back for one more coffee at the Kosy?
Being a journalist is a great job. You get to be curious, ask questions, explore topics and learn new things every day. You get to experience things first-hand that your audience doesn’t have the time to experience during their busy lives. You get to meet interesting people, hear incredible stories and be a witness to local history.
As this week is our Thanksgiving issue, I feel it’s especially appropriate to give thanks to this community for the opportunity to be here, telling these stories for the last 10 years.
It’s an honour to be able to report on this community for this community.