First off, allow me to apologize for plagiarizing the headline for this column. Some of you will undoubtedly recognize it as the title for the last two-part episode of Star Trek TNG when that wonderful series signed off for good nearly 15 years ago, so perhaps it is appropriate here.
This Friday will be my last day here at the Fort Frances Times. It is with great optimism, and some regrets, that I will be leaving Borderland and returning to southern Ontario to take a job with the Woolwich Observer in Elmira.
It is a weekly community newspaper with a circulation of over 12,000 and an excellent reputation with a number of awards to its credit.
I hope to be able to make some small contribution to it and the community it serves as I have tried to do here.
It was a decision reached after considerable reflection and soul searching. The time spent here has been the most rewarding of my career and my perspective on Canada in general, and Ontario in particular, has been permanently altered by the experience.
However, the opportunity to live and work in a community close to my home town of Cambridge had to be seized.
Elmira is located about 20 minutes north of my parents’ home in Waterloo and less than 45 minutes from Cambridge, where many of my relatives still reside. I have only been home twice since I first came here in early January of 2003 and in spite of the wonderful activities to be found here, I sometimes found myself wishing I was back there.
I’m definitely going to miss this place (although I’ll probably get over it some time in January when it’s 40 below up here.) I’ve met some wonderful people and formed some friendships, which will hopefully withstand the test of distance and time. But the most important thing I will take with me is a different way of looking at things.
The vastness of space and the distances from everywhere else in the world has made the people here unique in many ways. I have found you folks tend to be more self-sufficient and less reliant on the largesse of a government that is so far away in Toronto.
I understand your frustration with those in the south who exercise so much control of your lives without understanding the realities of life here and I want you to know you will always have in me a passionate advocate for your issues, whether it be in the newsroom, in a bar, or in debate with family and friends.
But I am going to miss a few things. After our disastrous showing in the Emo Walleye Classic this year, I was hoping to redeem myself next year.
Since my partner has decided not to go into it next year, it will free up our spot in the tournament for someone else. I hope the number 45 brings good luck to somebody.
But most of all, the thing I think I will miss the most is the warm, casual relationship we share with our neighbours across the river.
Sure, Immigration officials on both sides of the border can sometimes be a pain, but the people in our sister city share many of the same issues and values we do and it has forged a bond that an arbitrary line on a map cannot break. The fact that so many of us have family on the other side is proof of that.
I suspect no such special relationship exists anywhere else along the world’s longest undefended border and it is an example to the citizens in the rest of both countries as well as the politicians who far too often make life much more complicated than it need be.
I’ll be staying in touch with some of you by e-mail and I’ll certainly be reading the Fort Frances Times online. Don’t be surprised if you see an occasional Letter to the Editor under my byline either.
Most of all, I want to thank the many people who made my job here so much easier and rewarding than it might have been otherwise.
I’ve had my occasional differences with some of you, but to the best of my knowledge, there is no lingering resentment. Life is too short to carry grudges, which only seem to get heavier with time.
It would be impractical to list all the people who have had the most positive influence on me, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Jim Cumming and Mike Behan, who made it possible for me to stretch my wings and hone my craft. Things weren’t always smooth, but they were always fair and challenged me to do more and be more than I might have otherwise. As I said to Jim yesterday, this is the best job I ever had and it’s good to be able to go out on top.
I’m also going miss working with a wonderful bunch of lunatics here in the newsroom. We may appear on the outside to be serious and professional (and we are), but if you were aware of some the antics that go on here , especially on Tuesday nights when we’re putting together the Times and we’re all so tired everything is hilarious, you would probably never take us seriously again.
I’ve always been amazed at how the front desk staff is able to deal with the public in a cheery manner, regardless of whatever personal issues with which they may be dealing. Again, they’re professionals.
The rest of you are too numerous to list here, but I’m sure you know who you are. I’ll be seeing some of you before I head south, probably one week from today.
So, take care, farewell and whatever you do, don’t change what you do and how you think. It’s what makes this place special.
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end so I’ll sign off here and wish you all the best in future.