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April 8, 2005

Happy Birthday Community Voices

Five years ago on April 7, 2000 the Nugget launched its new regional newspaper in the huge area around North Bay.From Temagami and Temiskaming to Sturgeon Falls to Sundridge to Mattawa, 18,500 mailboxes and some 50,000 people began to receive a free copy of Community Voices with its red banner every Friday.  The voices in the Voices would come from whoever had something to say about their community or their interests.  Now 260 editions later the paper has become popular throughout the area. 

Rosalie Little was the editor for the first couple of years, followed by current editor Dawn Clarke.  As one of those original writers I marvel at the skill these ladies have to take numerous parts of a puzzle, articles, ads, etc., and put them together on a tight schedule to give us a nicely readable paper.  Congratulations to the Nugget and the numerous contributors who write to a tight schedule, to help put the paper together every week. 

Front Page of first issue of Community Voices

The first edition with the cover shown here featured the work of Chef Daniel Esposito from Canadore College who continued to contribute for a couple of years.  Many contributors have come and gone for various reasons and have been replaced by other interesting writers.  I was one of the originals as was Fran Morris from Redbridge and Deborah Kurtzer-Johnston from Sundridge who continue to write when we can and when our work fits in depending on the size of the paper that week and the amount of material submitted.  Over the 5 years I have had 213 Heritage Perspectives articles published plus 10 occasional Art Scene articles over the last 18 months.  My Heritage Perspectives column usually has one to several photographs each time and I estimate that close to 500 have been used. 

The hardest column I have written was the first one and it has become easier and more pleasurable ever since.  I always choose my own topic and I seldom get edited except occasionally on the title of the article when the editor’s eye is sharper than mine.  The material has to be in a week prior to publication so timing is often a factor especially if you are writing something like this article with a time factor involved. 

I could not do my column without a little help from my friends and people interested in history.  I would not do the column if it were not for the computer which I use for research and shuffling copy.  I write the column out in long hand and deliver it a kilometer away to my neighbour and history buff Bernadette Kerr who types it and emails it to me for editing.  She is one of the few people who can read my handwriting.  When it is finished she sends a copy to the Nugget and a copy to my son in Toronto who puts it online after publication on my website (www.pastforward.ca) where all previous articles are available.  I choose suitable photos, scan them and send them to my son who enhances them if necessary and sends them to the Nugget.  It works like clockwork most of the time. 

I appreciate the feedback I get on my columns and apologize for not having the time to respond to every request.  I also appreciate the support of the many receptive people without whom I could not carryout the research necessary for some columns. 

The First Edition 

The first edition scared me a bit when I found a number of history references which turned out to be just a coincidence.  The venerable Gord McCulloch wrote one of his Pine Cone columns, Deborah Kurtzer-Johnson told how Sundridge got its name, Tammy Odrowski told how Trout Creek got its name and Cindy Cameron had an article on Mattawa’s Iron Man John Argo.  I was impressed with the quality of the writing and in particular the work of the witty and perceptive Fran Morris who noted that she was “not crazy; just eccentric and perfectly harmless” – and has continued to entertain ever since.  Laurel Campbell’s article on the Powassan Maple Syrup Festival with photos of Dave Mathews’ operation is as interesting today as it was five years ago. 

With several new writers and several continuing contributors the future looks good for the paper and we look forward to hearing voices from the far reaches of North Bay.  I have a couple of other projects on the go but hope to continue giving my heritage perspective on things when I can in the future. 

Happy birthday and congratulations to Community Voices for making a little history.

Heritage Perspective Home Page

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