I’ve written before in this space about the incredible opportunities that have come my way because of the job I took here seven months ago.
One of the things that draws people to the newspaper industry is the chance to have a front-row seat to history. As journalists, we have a chance to talk to the newsmakers and attend events that matter.
As the managing editor at the Daily Herald, I’ve had the good fortune to meet a great many of the movers and shakers in the city.
For instance, in last week’s column, I wrote that I knew and liked Jim Scarrow and Greg Dionne but hadn’t yet met the city’s third mayoral candidate, Dean Link. After reading the column on Monday, Dean emailed me and we spent an hour chatting on Tuesday.
I never lose sight of the fact that this access is a blessing.
While I was in the industry in Brandon, my job as news desker meant that I was chained to a desk in the basement of the Sun assembling the work of others.
This has obviously been a nice change at the Daily Herald. My busy schedule the weekend before last certainly drove that home.
On Sept. 21, I was double booked but with two events I really enjoy.
The first was the home opener for the Prince Albert Raiders.
As a member of the media, I can’t openly cheer for the team. A working journalist has to keep a professional distance from the people and teams that you cover to maintain some objectivity.
But I love the Western Hockey League and have nothing but good things to say about the Raiders staff that I deal with, including Bruce Vance, Bruno Campese, Steve Young and Evan Poitras.
I was at the game to take pictures for the first period. With new camera gear arriving at the Daily Herald since last season ended, it gave me time to do some experimenting.
I shot a couple hundred frames, was fortunate to get a few decent pictures, drove home and emailed them to our production centre.
Then it was off to event No. 2.
Music is another love of mine; I was fortunate to write about it for more than a decade both as a reviewer and as a reporter. So I was excited about what remained on my dance card that night.
The Mann Art Gallery had invited me to their fundraising event, which featured a performance by Joel Fafard, the talented Juno Award-winning singer and guitarist originally from Saskatchewan.
It gave me a chance to spend some time with Malcolm Jenkins, the Selanders (Mona and Mara) and to visit with Dr. David Stevens, who didn’t recognize me without a bike helmet on. (It didn’t go with the suit.)
I also finally met gallery curator Griffith Aaron Baker, who I had chatted with on the phone a few times.
It’s a beautiful space, and the combination of friendly faces, great music, wonderful food and terrific art made it a wonderful evening.
It was theme repeated the next day. I was pleased to be invited to the home of local artist Jack Jensen, who specializes in cast paper sculpture. He is the husband of Linda Jensen, who many people in the city know as the marketing director for the E.A. Rawlinson Centre and a Daily Herald columnist.
Not long after my wife and I walked into their beautiful home, Valerie Horner strolled into the kitchen. Valerie is a former educator, amazing photographer, fellow member of the Prince Albert Triathlon Club and one of my favourite people.
It was meant to be.
Jack took us through his artistic process, showed us his work and patiently answered my endless questions. Since he works in everything from bronze sculpture to drawing cartoons, he brings many artistic insights from a variety of angles.
On the way back to the car, my wife and I talked about the neat opportunities that continued to be thrust upon us.
There was one more big one still coming for me that weekend.
When the lights went out in Prince Albert during the storm on June 26, we faced some challenges getting a newspaper out without power on June 27.
A friend from CBC Regina called me and I appeared on their afternoon show. The best part about that was an old friend in Regina — who had no idea I was in Prince Albert — heard the broadcast and gave me a call to welcome me to Saskatchewan.
A few emails followed, and soon I had an offer to attend a Roughriders game with him. I last saw a game there in 2003; I know it was a long time ago because the Blue Bombers won.
I think my buddy may have been joking when he offered this lifelong Bombers fan a Roughriders jersey to wear to the game, but I pulled off my golf shirt and threw it on. (It also allowed me to pay off a bet made with my co-worker Darlene prior to the 55-0 Labour Day massacre.)
If you’re going to see a CFL game, clearly it needs to be at Taylor Field. I’ve seen games in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Regina and the atmosphere is easily the best in Saskatchewan.
The game was close, the home side won and I had a great visit with my friend Greg. I can’t say I would ever eat another elephant’s ear at the game — the pastry treat is far too much of a mediocre thing — but the game was a great experience.
We then closed the evening with pizza at one of Regina’s legendary chains. (Not to swell any heads in Prince Albert, but I’ve eaten better pizza here in the city at several different restaurants.)
It was a long drive home on the Sunday evening on the now familiar Highway 6 with the Santa statue at Watson and the cruise through Melfort.
The weekend started with hockey, veered over into the arts world and ended with football.
I wouldn’t change a bit of it.