I just checked my recently-acquired copy of the first issue of the Hope Advance, of May 29, 1998. The upstart challenger to the Hope Standard didn’t last long — but the competition caused at least two lasting changes to the Standard: colour photos and a weekly sports story, usually covered by yours truly.
I had been a regular freelance photographer and sometimes-writer for the paper since the mid 1980s but I was happy to take on the weekly sports file when it was offered to me by then-editor, Simone Rolph.
Simone or advertising rep Pattie Desjardins might recall the details on how the Standard and Black Press knew — um… ‘in advance’ — what the owner of new paper had in mind but they were able to beat the rival to the punch, putting out a colour front page and my new sports column, one day before the first issue of the Advance hit the streets.
Once the change had been made — and even after the Advance’s retreat back to Agassiz, then into oblivion — the Standard stayed at the higher level the competition had obliged them to move to.
Though I lived in Hope for 28 years (and have taught school here for over 38), my family and I moved to Chilliwack in 2004 and I thought my days with the Standard were done.
Simone wasn’t going to let me go, though and convinced me to try and make it work into my daily commute. That gave me another 10 years of weekly columns, with the help of others sometimes supplying the photos to go with my story.
Then I retired from my teaching job in 2014 and thought that it might, finally be the end of my newspaper career.
The rise of Facebook and other social media helped me stay connected, even if I didn’t travel to Hope for weeks or months. As well, I could catch Hope people for photos when they were in Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison for their sports.
In a strange turn of events, I’m back teaching at Silver Creek Elementary, the school I first taught at in 1976 — so it seems you’re stuck with me for a while longer. I’m also excited to try my new camera, an Olympus E-M1.2, in the coming year. It’s capable of shooting, get this: 60 full-resolution frames per second. It can even start saving shots before the shutter is fully pressed, so there could be some interesting captures of fast action.
Who knows? My eventual replacement might be Kendrick Bissky, who helped me take a photo of his dad, his brother and a friend at the future site of the C.E. Barry running track. I held the camera and Kendrick touched “Daddy’s nose” on the camera’s touch screen, to activate the shutter.
I think Kendrick’s being involved helped capture some good expressions that made the photo pop. Editor, Emelie Peacock played along with my plan to give Kendrick credit — so, at two years of age, Kendrick could well be the youngest ever to get photo credit in a Black Press publication.
After blessing us with only one year of great service, Emelie is heading back to Yellowknife for a career in radio. She will be missed.
As I look back at the 20 years of sports stories, it’s quite a diverse collection, from sky diving, to Russian Olympic skiers, to motorsports, team sports, equestrian, swimming, canine agility — and individual pursuits, such as the impressive body building challenge that Kris Lebedoff put herself through recently.
Roughly 50 stories a year, times 20 years, makes it about 1000 stories that I’ve penned and photographed in this role. A big thanks goes to the teams, coaches and individuals who have shared their stories with me, so they could be passed on to Hope Standard readers and stamped into the history of this area.
We’ll see you in 2019.
Is there more to this story?