Memories of Christmases past and thanks to those most present

For nearly 45 years, The Expositor has used this space at this time of the year to acknowledge changes in our Island community during the past year but, most importantly, to thank all of the people whose continued efforts make the paper the interesting package that we strive to deliver to our readers, week after week.

When the McCutcheon family moved back to Manitoulin in the fall of 1974 to take up duties as publishers-in-residence of The Expositor (this had been accomplished at a distance for the previous few years with the assistance of wonderfully dedicated staff) the late Mrs. Etta (Henrietta) Boyter, who served as office manager at that time, reminded Rick McCutcheon of his duty to publically thank everyone who had helped with the paper in any way during the year just past.

So, full disclosure, that has been me, Rick, who has tried to do justice annually to the myriad of people who make this paper truly a community effort.

Dropping into the first person for a moment, this is the 44th such epistle that I’ll have penned, by my reckoning.

Time flits by and, in the same context, earlier this year, I passed the half-century mark of toiling in the newspaper industry, beginning on Manitoulin Island in 1967 and, except for a short stint away as previously noted, all of this time has been spent here, all of it in this interesting industry.

In the spring, the provincial community newspaper association acknowledged this, as they do, and there was a picture in the paper the next week of me in this context and so word was out and people said the nicest things.

The paper’s staff and friends threw a great surprise party the following weekend and I was even made an Honorary Haweater by the Grand Haw himself. That alone was worthy of a 50-year wait!

But times change and, at the end of the summer, my daughter Alicia assumed the role of publisher and I’m doing “other duties as assigned.”

This is personal, housekeeping stuff but our business is by its nature a public one so it makes sense that while our stock in trade is telling other people’s stories, sometimes we have to reciprocate and tell our own as well.

Thinking about the previous 43 Christmas thank-you editorials that I’ve written and which have been published in this same space, the number and high quality of the talented people who have chosen to associate themselves with this paper, whether for a short time or a long time, is nothing short of epic in terms of their intelligence, dedication, perseverance and sheer determination that this paper should always be as good as it can possibly be as it records Manitoulin Island history, entertains, provides a space for business messages to be delivered and also acts as a  forum for debate and the exchange of ideas.

As I noted, I came to Manitoulin Island a half-century ago and entered the newspaper business at that time.

The newspaper business is one that gives people fortunate enough to ply this trade on Manitoulin a unique vantage point from which to appreciate the amazingly interesting people who make up our small communities and the hybrid community vigor that derives from Manitoulin being the home to two distinct cultures.

The paper’s tourism website offers this defining phrase as a snapshot of Manitoulin: Ontario’s Island Retreat.

Manitoulin Island is a unique feature in this province, over and above being the world’s largest freshwater island. By European settlement and culture, it has not a great deal in common with the rest of Northern Ontario. Its underpinnings are limestone, not granite, and farming, not resource extraction, is the charter industry here.

Being privileged to be able to be part of a healthy newspaper operation here has given me the chance to get at least a glimpse of how things have evolved, and continue to do so, in ways remarkably different from any other region of Ontario. Most importantly, Manitoulin continues to be a place where clever, resourceful people want to come to live precisely because of all that is special here.

So, thank you for allowing me the privilege of doing this job among you for 50 years (and counting).

Some of the talented people also have helped us this past year (and most of them for many years) include our community correspondents. There aren’t as many of them penning country news as these once were, but those that do so are excellent. Thank you to Ingrid Blay and Cheryl Sheppard who have taken on the Providence Bay News and produce timely notes very much in a tradition that reaches back to the first issue of The Expositor in 1879 that featured community news from Prov. The veteran country correspondent is, of course, Pat Hall of Tehkummah Talk and Times who reports faithfully every week and even did so this fall when “Mum,” her nearly 101-year-old mother and her best friend, passed away. Once again, our condolences, Pat.

The published achievements of Manitoulin’s athletes, mostly young people, is also important “Community Correspondence” work and for this we thank Andre Leblanc who, through his amazing network of sources, does not leave anyone out of his page 7 column, Ice Chips and Canoe Quips. Thank you Andre for your hard work and attention to detail.

If you didn’t already know it, this past spring, summer and fall marked 25 years that Rose Diebolt and her husband John have been preparing delicious food and supporting the Island agricultural community in the operation of Garden’s Gate Restaurant.  For most of this time, Rose has also painstakingly tested and prepared the recipes

that appear under her name in the column, Rose’s Recipes. Rose is


always seasonal and as much as possible encourages people, through her recipes to use ingredients that are, just at that time, available fresh. When you visit her Tehkummah restaurant again next spring and summer and walk through the gardens that surround it, you’ll appreciate her motivation.

Earlier, we referenced the interesting people who live here, and have done so throughout their lives and those who have chosen to make their lives here. Petra Wall’s monthly feature column, “Now and Then” drives this observation home with her detailed interviews with (usually) older people who give us perspective on lives lived on Manitoulin and the accompanying challenges and triumphs. It is a series of wonderful snapshots and we are so pleased that Petra, almost 15 years ago, approached us with the project. Thank you Petra. There is a great example this week, the interesting lives of Mort and Cathie Runnalls on page 5.

Brian Bell, Manitoulin’s Ag Rep (now officially known as the district’s Agricultural Development Officer) misses hardly a week with his informative column. It is news directed to the agricultural sector, yes, but it is more widely read than that because people have an abiding interest in anything that affects where their food comes from. Well done, Brian.

As always, we will acknowledge and thank the community librarians (Debbie Robinson in Manitowaning and Claire Cline in Mindemoya and Providence Bay) who send us book reviews through their respective columns Assiginack Library News and News from the Mindemoya Book Mice. These literary features are important to encourage people to keep on reading. Thanks to Marian Barnett too, for keeping us posted on the Northeast Town Public Library happenings.

At the very beginning of this Canada 150 anniversary year, we asked Manitoulin historian Shelley J. Pearen if she could put together a feature that would give an idea of Manitoulin Island society in 1867, 150 years ago. Did we mention that, as good an idea this may have been, it popped into someone’s (Rick’s) head three days before the first paper of this year had to be produced?

As always, Shelley came through and, not only that but she went on to produce a series of stories of life on Manitoulin at that time. Thanks, so much Shelley.

Margo Little and the Manitoulin Writers’ Circle also helped celebrate Canada 150 as Circle members took turns producing stories that told something about Canada, from his or her own lifetime. The last one has been saved and will appear in this paper. Thanks very much for producing these topical stories.

Another friend, Sandy McGillivray (also a Manitoulin historian) is also always helpful in answering historical questions and accessing the answer from his personal archives.

Sandi Kuntsi is in her last year at Manitoulin Secondary School and has had responsibilities for the “Kids in the Halls” school news column for her entire high school career. This year, she is also producing the MSS Mustangs “Player Profile” sketches. She is a busy young woman and she will be a tough act to follow. Thanks Sandi.

We have an important addition to our community of freelance writers this year as Gisele Aiabens has taken on this important job in her home community of Wiikwemkoong. She is a talented writer and excellent photographer. Welcome Gisele.

Ms. Aiabens joins veteran freelancers Betty Bardswich in Mindemoya and Sharon Jackson in Kagawong. You all do a first-rate job.

The Ontario Provincial Police has a new Community Services Officer, Constable Marie Ford, who is enthusiastic about her job and with whom we are delighted to work as we are with her counterparts at the UCCM Anishnaabe Police Services and the Wikwemikong Tribal Police.

Thanks, as always, to the Island post offices, their staff and their rural route contractors for doing such a diligent job in helping us “get the news out.” You are part of the team.

It looks like we’re going to be enjoying a white Christmas this year. Sledding has already been reported and there is every likelihood that the important Manitoulin Snowdusters snowmobile trail network will be open between Christmas and New Years (but not on the lakes!)

It is our hope that there is something for everyone this Christmas and that we can look forward to a safe and happy holiday time. Best wishes for 2018 and thank you to our readers and to our advertising community!


Rick and Julia McCutcheon

Alicia McCutcheon

Kerrene Tilson

Marilyn Harasym

Dave Patterson

Tammy Albers

Robin Burridge

Michael Erskine

Debbie Bailey

Kendra Edwards

Rosemary Debassige

Kate Thompson

Steve Richards

Darren Bailey


And from the Western Manitoulin Office

Tom Sasvari