This spring, when the hammer fell for newspapers, it impacted local people like Dolores Caldwell, of the Reston Recorder, and the staff of Souris, Melita and Deloraine. The COVID-19 pandemic brought economies everywhere to a dead stall. The downturn and uncertainty were enough to close about a dozen local papers in Manitoba.
For Caldwell and other staff of the Corner Pocket publications it meant a sudden end to work that they had put heart and soul into; daily work among their communities.
For months, there was the uncertainty, thinking these papers might come back to life. Staff of a newspaper feel the upset and disappointment within their community when newspapers are no longer delivered.
Caldwell, and those who have gone before her, have provided community connections for Reston, Pipestone and Sinclair communities. We have invited Dolores to have the last word and she has graciously agreed:
The Reston Recorder was established in 1905 and was the only news source for many generations of people living in the Reston and surrounding area.
I started working for the Recorder 19 years ago as a part time photographer/reporter and then, the manager for the past 15. It was the perfect fit for someone with a young family. I never missed a school function or community event and got paid to attend.
My favourite task at the Recorder was writing “Days Gone By”. I can remember reading where a young mom died during childbirth and then the father fell off the barn and was killed. Word was sent out by train to find family members. There was a town meeting scheduled to see who would take this young family and I don’t know if I expected Charles Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie to step forward and say, “I’ll take those children” but I read every issue for the next year trying to find out what happened to the family. I was even a little mad at Frank Manning for not following up on the story. It seems strange to say but you get hooked - like binge watching Netflix.
I valued the friendships made with the other employees of Corner Pocket. I consider Judy Wells, Darci Semeschuk, Karen Branston and Cindy Wilkinson part of my Corner Pocket family and have cherished memories of working with Kathy Adams and Donna Anderson at the Reston Recorder as well.
Fletch Manning was an important part of my work family as well. She and Rusty sold the paper to Bruce Schwanke and I started working for Bruce in 2001. Fletch, always in a rush, would bound into the Recorder with a story idea or some butter tarts. She treated me like one of her kids, told me when I made a mistake but encouraged me as well.
One time I was really worried about finding something worth reading for the paper and she told me the story of how Rusty was fretting about putting the paper to bed (that’s what she called the process the night before the paper went to print). Rusty, too, had nothing to put in the paper but during the night there was a bad car accident and some kids were killed. He told Fletch that he would never again complain that there was nothing to read in the paper. I never forgot that lesson; an empty paper sometimes is a sign of calm in the community or the world itself.
I have never proclaimed to have exceptional grammar skills and still struggle when placing a comma or a semi-colon; but the one aspect of my writing I am proud of is the spelling of people’s names. Perhaps it is because no one ever spells mine correctly. I believe it shows respect and everyone deserves respect.
The area once covered by Deloraine Times, Melita New Era and Souris Plaindealer went with the Boissevain Recorder and I am happy that the Virden Empire-Advance has decided to cover Reston/Sinclair and Pipestone areas. Sherry Kendrick has agreed to cover local events and everyone’s subscription has now been transferred to the Empire-Advance.
I am grateful to the RM of Pipestone for giving room in their building to store the back issues of the Recorder. They will be available for viewing during office hours for years to come for historians or people compiling family trees.
The last couple of years I enjoyed writing a monthly column called Senior Spotlight. I learned many interesting things about the people in our community. I feel everyone has a story to tell - some good, some bad but always interesting.
I think of my own story now: working at the Recorder was a large part of my life, one that I was proud of - but it has come to an end. I tell myself it was only a matter of time. I have lived at Reston for 29 years, and looking back, our small town once had a butcher shop, bakeshop, grain elevators, a clothing store, two schools, etc. that have all closed. I wrote stories on their closures and now it is someone else’s turn to write the ending of the Recorder.
It was harder and harder to sell advertising and subscriptions were at an all time low. Social media was the downfall of all the papers. It is too easy to get all your information at the click of a button.
For me, I have decided to take a casual position at the Reston & District Library. For those that may not know me, Kevin and I have been married for 28 years. We have two grown daughters, Amber and Meghan, husband Tyler and boyfriend Morgan, plus two grandchildren Jami and Ryke as well as nieces and nephews whom I adore.