Going through my desk this week, I discovered two pica poles and a proportion wheel underneath the numerous notepads which have accumulated over the years.
No need to explain what a pica pole or a proportion wheel is, other than to say they were tools used while producing the pages of what was then The Surrey-North Delta Leader in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
It was a lot different in the world of journalism back then. Producing pages for print took a lot more time and effort. Photographers had to develop film, then make a “screen-print” halftone of their photo. Copy was printed in long wax strips, then pasted onto the pages, beside the ads which were prepared separately. Production staff would then run a roller over the pages to make sure everything stayed in place before the page was sent to camera.
Or at least, that’s the way I remember it.
Today, using InDesign and Photoshop programs on a computer, I can now build a page in minutes. Or at least, I did.
After 88 years, 28 of which I was employed here as a journalist, The Surrey Leader is shutting down, yet another casualty in a changing world where print and broadcast journalism appear to be losing their struggle to survive. So for the past few days, there was no looking forward, just looking back at almost three decades working for the longest-running publication in the history of this city.
And working mainly as a sports reporter, there is a lot to look back on.
There are annual events, such as the Surrey RCMP Classic (the unofficial high school boys basketball championship), the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Goodwill Classic (the girls all-Surrey high school basketball tournament), and the Canadian Open women’s softball tournament at Softball City, which were a pleasure to cover each season.
In the province’s largest school district, local teams and individuals often did well at provincial high school championships in football, track and field, basketball, volleyball and soccer. Every year, there were great stories to be told.
And there were the road trips.
I drove to Hoquiam, Washington in May of 1995 to watch the first-ever game played by the Surrey Glaciers, an independent professional team in the Western Baseball League. The Glaciers called the Stetson Bowl home for one season before folding, running out of money well before the season ended.
A year later, I was off to the state of Washington again with photographer Evan Seal for a feature on Mitch Berger, who won a B.C. high school basketball championship with the North Delta Huskies in 1990. Berger was in the National Football League as a punter with the Minnesota Vikings, and was playing the Seattle Seahawks at the Kingdome in November 1996.
At the Northview Golf and Country Club in 1999, I covered the Air Canada Championship, where Mike Weir became the first Canadian in 45 years to win a PGA Tour event in Canada.
I was in Penticton for the Young Stars tournament in 2013. It’s an annual event at which NHL teams send their young minor league prospects and recent draft picks for a series of preseason games. Interviews with Tyler Wotherspoon, Laurent Brossoit, Jujhar Khaira and Nic Petan turned into features stories for The Leader. All four players have played in the NHL this season.
While in Montreal so my wife Alanna could visit her newborn grandson, I took in the national U18 girls softball championships taking place a 20-minute drive away in Ile Perrot. It turned into a great story for Black Press papers, as the Delta Heat defeated the White Rock Renegades in the championship game. The Surrey Storm placed third. And The Leader was there – in Quebec – for the stories.
Nine years after Andrew Hammond’s name appeared on the pages of The Leader as a goaltender with the Surrey Eagles of the BC Hockey League, I found myself in Ottawa, where he was playing goal for the National Hockey League’s Senators. I was told he didn’t know who I was, but agreed to an interview after practice at the Canadian Tire Centre because – as the Senators’ media relations rep told me – he remembered The Surrey Leader.
I’m fortunate in one way. I will be moving over to the Surrey Now next week, and hopefully will be able to continue doing what I’ve been fortunate to be doing for the past 28 years.
I’m not so lucky to be the only one at The Leader making the move, so my days of working with a great group of people – outstanding journalists and quality individuals I call friends – are over. They are the main reason why it never seemed like work, just a comfortable place to be during the day while doing what we all loved doing, and doing it well.
We all know nothing lasts forever and today’s final issue of The Surrey Leader is just another example. But I am so thankful for the past 28 years.
To the people I’ve worked with – past and present – and the athletes, coaches, managers and officials I’ve written about: Thank you.