Laking House and Haliburton Echo return to shared ownership
By Jenn Watt
Published Nov. 28, 2017
Len Pizzey was coming back to town after some time off when he spotted a for-sale sign on the lawn of the Laking House on Highland Street in Haliburton more than two decades ago.
The building was a private residence for many years and had been converted into a commercial space by Keith Jackson, for his real estate company.
Overlooking Head Lake at the centre of the village, the house seemed like a good fit for a newspaper operation, said Pizzey, who at the time was publisher of the Haliburton County Echo.
“I asked the staff if they thought it was a good idea that I buy the house and we move the newspaper office there,” said Pizzey. “Everybody was really enthusiastic about that.”
At the time, the Echo was produced from the space beneath the CIBC at the corner of York Street and Maple Avenue – what is now Outdoors Plus.
Although it was clear the Laking House wouldn’t be big enough for the staff of the newspaper, the homey feel of the building and its location offered possibilities.
Almost immediately, work commenced on expanding the office, with graphic designer Sandi Luck drawing up plans to create a production room and second basement as well as two additional office spaces upstairs. The work was done by local contractor GJ Burtch Construction, which maintained the look of the building, including extending the verandah.
Pizzey said the new building was good for morale and helped create a team atmosphere. “At some times of the year some people spent as much time in the office working to produce special publications and deal with the rush of summer business as they spent at home,” he said. “It had the feeling of being like another home. It made a huge difference to people’s enjoyment of coming to work and to people’s ability to work together.”
When Pizzey sold the Echo in 2004, he kept the building, leasing it to the new owners.
Now, 13 years later, the house and the business come under the same ownership. White Pine Media, which has owned the Echo since 2014, purchased the Laking House last week.
“It was the most logical thing and the best future for the house in my view was that the Echo and the house become a merged entity. Now the newspaper owns its home,” he said.
Echo publisher David Zilstra, a member of the White Pine Media ownership group, said buying the building solidifies the place of the paper in the village.
“We’re pleased to have this come full circle under the ownership of White Pine Media,” he said. “We’re going to continue on with the proud legacy of the Echo in the community.”
The sale coincides with the building’s 100th anniversary.