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Jim Cumming - From the Publisher's Pen

Jim is the publisher of the Fort Frances Times Ltd. He writes a weekly column and can be contacted at jcumming@fortfrances.com

Tough decisions had to be made

Newspapers across Canada and the United States are evaluating their future. The Fort Frances Times, along with the Daily Bulletin, is no different.

In southern Ontario, 40 newspapers ceased publishing in December. Across Canada, almost 75 weekly newspapers closed their doors in 2017.

An additional 100 have gone from publishing two or three days per week to a single weekly.

Across the border, the Falls Daily Journal became the Journal and went from publishing five days a week to just two days per week.

Mourning a mentor

A friend and a mentor passed away this past weekend. As another Master official in Canada said in an e-mail to me, “A whistle has gone silent.”

Jim Brow captured my imagination to what competitive swimming was all about. He was my mentor and he coached me as we travelled across Northwestern Ontario in either buses or vehicles to Kenora, Dryden, Red Lake, Atikokan, and Thunder Bay, as well as to Warroad, Mn.

On longer bus trips to provincial championships, we often shared a seat and enjoyed the youth of the swimmers on the Fort Frances Aquanauts Swim Team (FFAST).

Plenty of pitfalls for cellphones

Have you ever sat in a restaurant or airport and watched people sitting next to each other texting on their phones.

It is something that is becoming more common every day, as new studies confirm.

The latest studies have discovered that a group sitting around a table would much rather text than have a conversation with the others at the table.

Connecting and making the world a smaller place is one of the big benefits of social media. Yet in our gallop to make the world smaller, we would rather isolate ourselves from each other in common discussions.

Prairies far from dull in winter

The GPS said in 659 km, turn left off Trans-Canada Highway. You hardly can go wrong travelling from Regina to Calgary on a bitterly cold day just before Christmas.

Just as everywhere, CBC Radio was describing how cold it was outside. Having left the Fort a day earlier, Marnie and I were crossing the prairies for the first time in winter.

No stockings filled with coal

Who should get a stocking with a single potato or a lump of coal this year?

There was a pervasive belief in the 19th century that if you were poor, it was because you or your ancestors did bad things. God was punishing you.

If you live in the United States, the Republican majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives seem to have a similar belief.

What Christmas is really all about

As I write this column, I realize there is less than two weeks until that jolly old elf makes his way into households around the world.

Each year, we celebrate Christmas in different ways.

For many, the arrival of that celebrated Christmas gentleman will offer little comfort. I listened Monday morning as Cathy Alex reported on the collection of gifts of food, clothing, and toys that will be delivered by several regional airlines from Thunder Bay to northern reserves.

Future begins now

It is now less than a year until new municipal councils are elected and sworn in across Rainy River District.

But before those elections take place, Ontario residents will go to the polls June 7 to elect a new provincial government.

All these races will have consequences for residents of the communities right across the district.

This riding has been thrown wide open by the decision of Sarah Campbell not to seek re-election as the MPP for Kenora-Rainy River.

'Evie' hasn't slowed down yet

Monday evening's recognition of Evelyn Metke as “Citizen of the Year” in Fort Frances recognizes her years of volunteering for the community.

I have known “Evie” from the time I was 14 years old and she had made a decision to take her bronze medallion course.

It seemed unusual that an older woman, who was my mother's age, would be taking her Royal Life Saving Society bronze medallion class with a group of teenagers, but “Evie” believed she should be able to look after her children on Rainy Lake.

She challenged the class at the Point Park during lessons.

Earlier start to Christmas season

When I first began selling advertising at the newspaper in the early 1970s, the Christmas selling season did not begin until the day after Remembrance Day.

On Remembrance Day, the stores all were closed and the staffs attended the service at the cenotaph. In the afternoon, they returned to the stores and decorated for Christmas.

The newspaper would produce a special edition on the Tuesday prior to the Santa Claus parade that coincided with the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend. The merchants went all out to attract customers to their stores on this side of the border.

Climate threat to ecosystems a real concern

Back in 1992, 1,700 scientists from around the world issued a dire warning to humanity. They said humans had pushed the world's ecosystem to a breaking point that would bring about colossal climate change.

The warning noted that air and water pollution, the collapse of world fisheries, and the loss of productive soil would befall human life.

This year, on the 25th anniversary of that warning, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries have followed up assessing the latest response to environmental issues.