My KDN Story

Jan11

 

Today was the last day that the Kamloops Daily News (KDN) published. After over 80 years of serving Kamloops, it was announced on January 3 that it would be closing within 60 days. Five days later, it came to an end.

I know this post will most likely be irrelevant to most of my readers, especially since the majority of you I’m assuming don’t even live in Canada, let alone B.C., but the closure of the Daily News has hit everyone in the community, including myself, hard.

I grew up with the Daily News. Living in a small town just outside of Kamloops, I looked forward to the comics in the paper, especially the colour ones on the weekend. When I was in Grade 1 or 2, I drew a weather drawing and it was featured on page 2 with the forecast for the day. As I got older and thought about a career after high school, journalism had gained my interest after enjoying the tedious task of piecing together our school’s annual yearbook. I thought it would be amazing one day to be the editor-in-chief at the Daily News. While it wasn’t my first career choice, journalism landed its place in my life after I quickly learned that writing was a better fit for me than crunching numbers. Follow your heart, they say …

I enrolled in J-School. Those first interviews and articles we were assigned to conduct were the most terrifying thing I had done in my life up to that point. Naturally introverted, reporting pushed me to open up and make myself a little vulnerable. My husband still wonders how I can be sometimes be so quiet around the house and not say much, but turn on my “reporter, get sh!t done” voice when I need to.

I landed a job at the university newspaper. I graduated. I scored a job at a great little neighbourhood newspaper. And finally, an ad came up in the Daily News for a job in their traffic (ad placement) department. I applied. I got an interview with the advertising manager. It turned out that they had already found a person for the job, but they wanted to offer me a position in their classifieds department. The manager knew that I held a journalism degree and mentioned that the job wasn’t really in my field of studies, but because I dreamt of working at the Daily, I was hired. A little more than a week later, I was a sweaty ball of nerves starting my new job at my dream employer. Heaven.

A couple months after I had started, the special sections editor had returned from her maternity leave and the advertising manager asked if I’d be interested in doing some freelance writing for her. I sent her some writing samples from my work at the university paper, and not long after that I was writing Q&A stories and began my side-job of as a freelance journalist.

In 2011, right as I was coming off my time off from getting married, there was a job opening in the editorial department for an editorial assistant. The woman who currently held that position was moving to join her husband, who lost his job when the press shut down, in the Lower Mainland. I scraped together a cover letter and resume and emailed it across the office to the editor, Mel Rothenburger. I will admit that even though I had been at the Daily for over a year, he still intimidated me. I believe it was only about two days later when he came casually strolling towards my desk in the classifieds department and asked to see me in his office. I guess my coworkers in classifieds knew that he wanted to talk to me, but I was clueless and I instantly started to freak out.

I don’t remember much about that interview, except for when Mel asked me why he should hire me for the job. I told him that I wanted to be editor-in-chief one day. The next day, I was offered the job.

Moving into the newsroom was it for me. From there, I figured I’d be able to build my career and make a name for myself in Kamloops. To me, it was more than just answering the phone (though no one could complete with my fast phone-answering skills) and filing letters to the editor (which always made me laugh or groan). It was a step in the right direction. Every so often I was asked to do some call backs for press releases and put together quick news briefs when the reporters were slammed with work. I even landed a byline on the front of the sports section when the sports desk was short-staffed and no one could attend a news conference the next morning.

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When I became pregnant with Isla, there was no question about whether or not I’d return to work after my maternity leave was up. Sadly, last April when I was confirming the days and hours I’d be returning to for daycare organization, I was asked to come to the office to speak with the publisher, Tim. He had to unfortunately tell me that the head office has decided that due to economical reasons, they would be eliminating my job position after my return. (Since they can’t eliminate it while I’m on leave.) Even more unfortunately, since I was only a part-time employee, they didn’t have to find a new “home” for me within the company. I was devastated and I’m pretty sure I made Tim feel pretty awkward when I couldn’t hold the tears back and started sobbing like a baby in his office. (Sorry about that, Tim!) After I went home and collected my thoughts, I took the turn of events as a blessing in disguise since I could now stay home and raise my daughter. I visited the office as much as I could and was always welcomed with a smile. (and if Isla was with me – a crowd)

Unfortunately, with the Daily News now closing permanently, there are 55 people now out of a job. Many of them have children, some of them the sole income earner of their household. I cannot even imagine what must have gone through their minds during Monday’s announcement. Even more so during Thursday’s announcement that Saturday (today) would be the last paper ever published.

I know I was only actually at the Daily News for two years before going on maternity leave, but I feel I owe it so much. I worked with some amazing individuals whom I like to consider friends. I gained an appreciation for the art of journalism, for contrary to what many non-journos may believe, it’s more than just asking people questions and writing down answers. I became more knowledgeable of the city I live in.

Reading the last paper today brought tears to my eyes. I’m going to miss seeing the Daily News in the news stands and reading it daily. I’m going to miss seeing those names in the bylines of the people I worked with and learned from. I hope that they are able to somehow go on bringing remarkable stories to the public, because they are truly talented and deserve to share their gift.

Thank you so much, Kamloops Daily News, for making my life so much better. I’ll miss you.

 

 

Exploring Kamloops: The Old Tranquille Farm

This past weekend Kyle and I took advantage of the beautiful weather to go take a guided tour of Tranquille Farm Fresh. Today, it’s a little farm that grows and sells local produce and meat with the hopes that it becomes a self-sustaining community. However, it wasn’t always sunshine and happiness.

Back in the early 1900’s it was a tuberculosis (TB) sanatorium, and that’s what it’s notoriously known as to most in the area. (Before that it was a ranch, which was bought-out by the provincial government to create the TB facility.) Between 1908 and 1912, several buildings were built, and until the late 1950’s it was used to help treat and essentially prevent the spread of TB. In the 1970’s, the site was also home to a mental facility for mentally challenged and disturbed children but was closed in the 1980’s.

Really, the site has a LOT of history, and is even rumoured to be haunted. I can see why – There were a lot of questionable treatments of patients during their stay. We were unable to actually enter any of the buildings due to asbestos and them not being structurally-sound, but it was definitely eery just looking inside from the grounds. The owners/operators of the site today hope to one day get the permits to be able to take people in some of the buildings and the tunnels that connect the buildings.

Unfortunately, a lot of the buildings have also been damaged and broken into by vandals and thieves before Tranquille Farm Fresh was established. The thieves were actually looking for copper wiring since copper is valuable, and the vandals are most likely drunken kids looking for a good scare. Regardless, I’m glad that someone has been able to step in and help preserve some of Kamloops’ history, despite its dark history.

Here’s some photos I took while we were on our tour:

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The old farmhands’ house. Those who worked at the facility were encouraged to live there as well.

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This building (along with the rest) are all boarded up due to asbestos.

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The main building. It was also used as the women’s living quarters after the Greaves Building was built in the 1920’s.

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The Greaves Building (a secondary building) for the TB patients.

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The front of the Greaves Building, which faces Kamloops Lake

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The doctor’s house – Where he lived while treating patients at the facility.

You may notice that there are a few “modern” touches on some of the buildings, such as swamp coolers and aluminum windows, and that’s because the site was purchased in the early 1990’s by an Italian man with the hopes to turn it into a resort, but those efforts failed.

If they ever open up the tunnels for public tours, Kyle definitely wants to go back. He had always wanted to tour the site and jumped at the opportunity to when I mentioned it. I don’t know if I’ll put my “big girl” panties on and do the tunnel tour if it becomes available, but we’ll see. (Ghosts and hauntings really freak me out!)

If you’re at all interested in the history of the area and don’t mind being a little creeped out, definitely book yourself a tour! And if you go in the summer, do the morning one, or else bring a lot of sunscreen and water! It is a wagon tour, but there isn’t a lot of shade and there are a few stops during it.

Have you ever been to a “haunted” house? Do they give you the goosebumps?

{Petting} Zoo Afternoon

Earlier this week on Tuesday, a friend and I decided to cruise on down (or up, I guess) to the Westsyde Petting Zoo here in Kamloops. (Also known as the Little Farmers Petting Zoo!) Neither of us had ever been before, so in an effort to trump boredom with our husbands were away at work, we decided to give it a go!

The “zoo” is located at the Westsyde Centennial Park right by the entrance. Really, you can’t miss it! The animals are more or less unattended, so you can’t actually go in the pens and pet them, but there are a variety of $1 and $0.25 machines around their enclosures with pellets and seed that you can feed to them. (The zoo is run by volunteers, and the food machines are how it gains income.)

There’s a HUGE number of goats at the farm, and while we were there we were able to see a few cute little baby goats, as well as a couple of VERY pregnant momma goats! There are also a couple of emu’s (which reminded me of velociraptors) and tons of different exotic birds, including peacocks, “fancy” chickens, pheasants, turkeys, and geese. While it wasn’t out-of-this-world amazing, it was still fun to see all the cool birds. Will I go back? Most likely when Isla is older. I can always pack a picnic lunch and make a better day out of it for sure!

Now for some pictures: (If you’re using a reader, click through to my actual page for a better view)

If you’re looking to have a fun afternoon at a relatively low cost, definitely check out the Westsyde Petting Zoo!