Misery loves January

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The joy that I hope it brings you to be reading a fresh new copy of the North Dundas Times in this new year is perhaps matched only by the joy I get from writing it for you. In prior years, I became accustomed to being asked (by those who noticed the absence of a printed paper during the Christmas season) whether the Times had ceased to exist. No one asked this year, which I can only imagine is because we are becoming a more familiar presence in local homes, and residents of this amazing Township are getting used to our much-needed holiday break. 

As with previous years, getting back into the spirit of writing feels much like reconnecting with old friends, even if it only has been three weeks since I put pen to paper for the North Dundas Times. It’s a treat to be able to communicate with thousands of my neighbours all at once. I have been a part of the North Dundas community for nearly eight years now, but it feels like a lifetime of connection. Perhaps that comes from being born in Winchester and having a childhood feeling that I would one day return and have my own family in North Dundas, a stone’s throw away from where I grew up.  

The North Dundas Times turns four years old later this year. The very first issue was published on November 4, 2020. It showed up in local mailboxes as though it had already existed for years, with a front page headline reading “Legion begins Poppy Drive 2020”. Nothing about that front page suggested that the Times was a new paper. Its sister paper – the North Grenville Times – had been operating since 2012, so there were already many experienced hands on deck. 

Besides a pleasant welcome message from editor David Shanahan, that first issue of the North Dundas Times also included a congratulatory article from Mayor Tony Fraser, who celebrated the addition of another newspaper to the North Dundas community after the loss of the Winchester Press. In his message, the Mayor stated his satisfaction at having another paper on the landscape to complement the work of the Chesterville Record. He also stated happiness at having another platform by which to reach North Dundas residents in his capacity as Mayor. In 2024, we invite all members of Council to share their voice in the Times. This is an invitation that has always been on the table, though seldom if ever accepted by those in office. It would be wonderful to see that change in 2024. 

Speaking of change, the Times experienced many exciting changes in 2024. One change that is purely anecdotal but nevertheless brings me joy is that North Dundas residents seem to be familiar with our paper in ever increasing numbers. In 2023, we got more news tips, press releases, and letters to the editor than in prior years, and it seems that residents are becoming increasingly aware of our presence when there is something they want to share that is “newsworthy”. 

There have been other changes as well that were much more tangible and not just the overjoyed observations of a small town newspaper editor. We hired Nanda Wubs Huizenga as our marketing consultant, and she has been a great source of help for business owners looking to fill their advertising needs. Her involvement with the North Dundas Chamber of Commerce, as well as her status as practically a household North Dundas name has certainly made the paper feel more connected with the community that it calls home. 

We also gave ourselves a physical location in Winchester at the North Dundas Business Centre where we can meet community members and watch the happenings of our Township’s largest town right outside of our own windows. It’s satisfying for me to know that much of what our readers see in the Times was written in the Times’ own office, which despite being staffed by only me still feels like a hub of community information and connectedness. It’s a different feeling than when I work from home in South Mountain, though working anywhere within this great community is a privilege. 

Last fall, two photographers showed up in the entranceway to the Times office to take photographs to put on a real estate website. One of the photographers exclaimed “wow, a newspaper office!” with genuine excitement when he saw me plugging away at my computer with the North Dundas Times banner behind me. I may not have agreed with his joke about me being Peter Parker (he was the guy with a camera after all; if anyone, I would be Jonah Jameson), but I loved his enthusiasm all the same. I think the photographers were from the city, and it was cool to be able to represent the existence of local news in the small community of North Dundas – my community. 

I have been astounded lately at the wealth of resources I have seen coaching people on how to get rid of their so-called “holiday hangovers”. Such “hangovers” refer not just to the after effects of a couple of weeks of poor alcohol and food choices, but also (primarily) to the mental state in which people tend to find themselves in January. December is probably the most joyous month of the year, filled with generosity, kindness, good food and drink, and the love of family and friends. It’s understandable that people have a hard time with January. It is often said that misery loves company – well misery loves January too!

This month, I encourage everyone to shake off the January blues and dive into a brand new year filled with the same loving people and awesome things that made the Christmas season so special. I also invite everyone to remember that the Times is the “Voice of Your Community”. We would love to print your letters to the editor and hear your ideas for stories. We also look forward to continuing to help local businesses spread the word about their amazing goods and services. 

Happy 2024, everyone! The fun is just beginning.  

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