TORONTO – The Ontario Community Newspapers Association (OCNA) launched its Hall of Fame Awards earlier this year and received a number of nominations outlining the achievements and initiatives of a wide variety of newspaper pioneers, including The Expositor’s own Rick McCutcheon, publisher emeritus, who was installed into the Hall of Fame last week.
Mr. McCutcheon’s long career and love for the newspaper industry began in 1967, after answering an ad he spotted in the Globe and Mail looking for a reporter at the Gore Bay Recorder on Manitoulin Island. “When asked if he could type, Rick replied ‘yes’ and quickly purchased a typewriter to learn. He was hired and made the move from a farm just north of Toronto, where he was born and raised,” the induction notice states.
In 1968, Mr. McCutcheon took on the editor role for Northern Ontario’s oldest continuously published newspaper in nearby Little Current, The Manitoulin Expositor, established in 1879. By 1970, he had purchased the paper.
In 1982, The Manitoulin Expositor received the Michener Award for public service journalism and was the first community newspaper in the nation to do so.
The Michener Award website states: “The Expositor, covering Manitoulin Island on the north shore of Lake Huron, had been concerned for 10 years about a suicide rate it estimated in 1981 was running at about 20 people per thousand or twice the national rate. A constant stream of information and opinion and finally, the concerted action it stirred up in the community, led to a 24-hour telephone link to a Sudbury Telecare system that resulted in the saving of two lives in the first few weeks.”
Mr. McCutcheon has been recognized by the OCNA when he was bestowed with the J. Earl Morrison Award for his years of service to the industry in 1983. In 2017 he was honoured with a Gold Quill Award during the OCNA’s annual BNC Awards Gala for dedicating more than 50 years and making substantial contributions to the newspaper industry.
Mr. McCutcheon was a member of the Little Current Volunteer Fire Department in the 1970s and for many years has been a member of the Little Current Business Improvement Area, serving in roles as chair, secretary and treasurer. From 1976 to 2013, he served on the Manitoulin Tourism Association.
Education has also figured largely in Mr. McCutcheon’s career, serving as a board member of the former Manitoulin Board of Education and as a board member and board chair of Cambrian College.
Mr. McCutcheon is credited with advancing tourism on Manitoulin Island through various newspaper initiatives, special editions and Manitoulin Publishing’s own tourism guidebooks, ‘This Is Manitoulin’ and ‘Manitoulin’s Magazine.’ Over the past 50 years, Mr. McCutcheon has enjoyed chronicling the growth and development of First Nations residents and communities growing out of early European settlements, of which Manitoulin is almost equally divided. A spirit of cultural appreciation and mutual support is always evident in the stories told through The Expositor.
The nomination came as a complete surprise to Mr. McCutcheon, who wondered aloud, “How did this happen? There are some very impressive people who have also been honoured this way.”
Mr. McCutcheon went on to say how pleased he was that daughter Alicia McCutcheon has taken over the paper and is seeing it through these difficult times. Son Duff McCutcheon is communications manager for Professional Engineers Ontario in Toronto.
“I would like to say if we’ve had some success over the last half century it’s entirely due to the staff we’ve been fortunate to have over all these decades in every department. The current staff is representative, but looking back the people we’ve been fortunate to have work for us have all left something positive in their wake and suggested wonderful improvements to the paper and, in many cases, for the community’s benefit. We’ve been blessed with consistent, high quality staff.”
Mr. McCutcheon was also quick to mention the practical support of Julia McCutcheon, his wife.
“She doesn’t let me get away with anything, never has, and that’s been a good thing.”
To date, Joanne Burghardt, director of content, Torstar Corporation Community Brands, the late Arthur (Art) Carr, publisher, Palmerston Observer, and Jim Cumming, retired publisher, Fort Frances Times have been acknowledged in the OCNA Hall of Fame.