Thessalon newspaperman receives prestigious industry award

Brent Rankin, publisher of Thessalon’s North Shore Sentinel newspaper, left, receives the Mary Knowles Memorial Community Award from Ontario Community Newspapers Association president John Willems. photo by Karen Shardlow, OCNA

ROSSEAU – The publisher of the North Shore Sentinel in Thessalon (one of the nearest industry neighbours of The Manitoulin Expositor and the Manitoulin West Recorder) was presented with the Ontario Community Newspapers Association’s most prestigious individual honour at an industry gathering last week near Rosseau in the Muskoka region.

Brent Rankin is the managing editor of this North Shore paper and the acknowledgment of his community leadership was recognized when he received the 2018 Community Award in Memory of Mary Knowles.

The citation reads that “Brent is a true example of an independent publisher, producing each issue of the North Shore Sentinel in Thessalon entirely by himself.” (His single employee looks after accounts payable and receivables.)

“Brent is the powerhouse behind the paper,” the citation continues, “which he convinced his family to buy in 1991. He is committed to delivering relevant and insightful news to his readers.”

The award was originally proposed by friends and family of the late Mary Knowles, a dedicated and community spirited member of the team at the New Hamburg Independent, a Kitchener area community newspaper. She passed away in 1996 from breast cancer. Her family felt a memorial award recognizing newspaper staff who are involved in all aspects of their communities would be a fitting tribute. One individual is chosen each year from among those nominated.

Brent Rankin certainly fits this description as, besides his dedication to the paper, he is the longest-serving mayor in Thessalon’s 127-year history, serves as a trustee on the Algoma District School Board and sits on the Sault Area Hospital Board and the Algoma District Home for the Aged Board (the facility is located in Thessalon.) He is also a member of the board of directors of the Algoma District Health Unit.

Mr. Rankin also co-manages several other family-owned businesses in Thessalon, his home town.

Expositor and Recorder publisher and editor Alicia McCutcheon and production manager Dave Patterson were on hand from Manitoulin at the independent newspapers gathering to witness Mr. Rankin accepting this important industry award and to offer him their congratulations

In his acceptance, the very modest Mr. Rankin noted to his publishing colleagues that, “I know I am an example of what you all do and thank the association for the honour.” He was accompanied to the two-day event by his wife, Nancy.

The Manitoulin Expositor has an historical link to the Sentinel.

Its founder, Ernie Strum, was a Bruce Mines native who had come to the Expositor’s print shop in the early 1960s to learn the printer’s trade as an apprentice. (The Expositor stopped printing its own paper and sold the printing equipment in the mid-1960s, concentrating then, as now, on newspaper publishing.)

Mr. Strum returned to Bruce Mines and established a printing business and, drawing on his experience at The Expositor, also founded a newspaper, the Bruce Mines Sentinel.

The Rankin family later purchased the paper, relocating it to Thessalon and renaming it the North Shore Sentinel.

Congratulations, Brent and Nancy on this recognition!