My first day at the Moose Jaw Times-Herald was October 31, 1994.
New co-workers wore costumes. One of them, dressed in black and donning a witch’s hat, told me not to worry about remembering their names.
Everyone would look different the next day.
I’ve thought a lot about that day and all the other days I spent at the Times-Herald as a reporter since I learned in November that the newspaper, which published its last edition this month after 128 years, was closing.
I drove to a farm south of Moose Jaw for one of my first assignments, a story about two brothers who were members of the Moose Jaw 4-H Beef Club and raised beef calves. One brother looked after a red Angus; the other brother’s project was a white Charolais.
My questions gave me away. I knew nothing about farm life. To their credit, the brothers and their parents were patient with me and provided thoughtful answers that helped me understand what it was they did.
After the story I wrote appeared in the newspaper, the boys’ parents told a fellow Times-Herald reporter, a man knowledgeable about all things rural, that they were pleasantly surprised with what I produced. They had been worried about how the piece would unfold.
I was glad to hear it.
I loved the daily challenge of learning new things and sharing what I learned with readers.
I moved to Moose Jaw after spending almost four months at the Prince Albert Daily Herald. The managing editor of the Daily Herald recommended me to his counterpart at the Times-Herald after he learned about an opening in the newsroom.
I graduated from Toronto’s Ryerson University with a journalism degree that spring. Eager to find work in my field and hone my reporting and writing skills, this Ontarian said yes to the far-from-home opportunities Saskatchewan offered.
The Times-Herald gave me a chance to tell stories.
Stories that mattered to the community.
Stories that made a difference to the people of Moose Jaw.
Stories that informed, educated, entertained and inspired.
Stories about people I haven’t forgotten.
Like the mother of the eight-year-old girl who fell into the Moose Jaw River while playing with one of her brothers and a friend. The girl’s body was discovered 18 days later. She had drowned. The girl’s mother shared stories of her beloved daughter with me at the family’s house. The next day, we visited the spot where the girl’s body was found. Kind, caring Moose Jaw residents had covered the spot with artificial flowers. The grieving mother liked going there and seeing the flowers. They gave her comfort during a devastating time.
Like the family that shared the story of the teenage daughter and sister who committed suicide. The girl’s parents, her sister and her brother welcomed me into their home, where we looked through photo albums filled with pictures of a young woman whose beautiful smile masked the struggles she faced, struggles that became too much for her to handle.
My Times-Herald newsroom colleagues and I put in long hours. We loved the work and did our best for the stories we covered.
The pay was low, but the experiences we had and the friendships we made were invaluable.
We took breaks from work long enough to get coffee at a nearby coffee shop. Always to go, because back at the newsroom, stories waited to be completed. Deadlines loomed.
When we weren’t working, we told tales and shared jokes over drinks at our favourite watering holes.
We played slo-pitch under prairie skies in the spring and summer, cheered on the Moose Jaw Warriors during hockey season and rooted for the Moose Jaw Diamond Dogs in baseball season.
Because of the Times-Herald, I met my husband. A sportswriter, he was in Moose Jaw covering a hockey game for another newspaper; I was at the game with a co-worker he knew.
I never went back to the Times-Herald since I left the building in 1999, after four and a half years, and now I never will.
Thanks for everything, Times-Herald.
Rest in peace.