August 24, 2021

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An unsupervised visit

My first newspaper job was with the Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan Post-Review in 1981. I was terrible—I got fired within a month.

I enjoyed my short stay in the community, though, and the paper was really good. One of the things the publisher told me right from the start is that the community news from the nearby villages like Erwood and Mistatim was the best-read and most important part of the paper.

I could see why. These little bulletins were sent in every week by volunteer correspondents, and they were made up of the comings and goings of local people. “Rod and Joyce Miller were visited by their son and daughter-in-law from Swan River last week,” would be a typical entry.

“Best wishes to Sharon Jones, who is now home after having surgery in Saskatoon,” might be another.

In a time before Facebook, when everybody loved to read their paper (isn’t it a delight to read your paper?), these tidbits were welcome information.

If Respect ran such items, you might have seen these a couple of weeks ago:

“Mrs. Sherry Gaye will be travelling to Burnaby next week to visit family;” and

“Mr. Jeff Gaye will be entertaining Dr. Hearn, who is visiting from Ontario next week.”

Those who know me, and especially those who know “Dr. Hearn,” would immediately see the danger. With Sherry away, the two of us would be completely unsupervised.

Al Hearn and I met when we were recruited into the Band of the Ceremonial Guard in 1982. It was a summer job in the army reserves, and Al and I managed to get into our share of trouble. We also forged a friendship that has endured over considerable time and distance.

We’ve travelled much of the country together, shared a house in Winnipeg, and eventually both embarked on military careers. When the Forces reduced its professional band personnel in 1994, he was released and resumed his studies in the States.

When our paths cross, we tend to find adventure. We’ve survived devastating pub crawls in Ottawa, Montreal, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Victoria, and elsewhere.

So Sherry had some grounds to be concerned that Al and I might come to no good during his visit here.

I can attest that the local pubs and clubs, breweries, and restaurants benefitted from his weeklong stay. My homebrewed beer reserves have also dwindled somewhat.

But besides the fun of getting together again for the first time in years, I also had the pleasure of showing off the region to my friend. Al was with me as we covered Open Farm Days and the opening of the Ukrainian exhibit at St. Paul Museum; we managed to get out fishing a couple of times; we enjoyed steak night at the Cold Lake Legion. We put in a lot of highway miles all around Cold Lake, Bonnyville, and St. Paul, and even into Saskatchewan.

I know Al enjoyed getting out into the area. (Thanks everyone, you’ve earned us a new fan.)

And we behaved ourselves, mostly. Age brings at least a small amount of wisdom.

I’d hate to see Al’s local paper run a bulletin to the effect of “Dr. Hearn has returned from his visit to the West. We wish him a speedy convalescence.”