By Lucy Scholey
The Gatineau Hills ruined my dreams.
Three years ago, when I decided to leave Nova Scotia to take up a reporting job in Wakefield, a place I had never heard of before reading the Wikipedia description (“a reputation for a somewhat bohemian lifestyle” – it’s pretty accurate), I thought I would stay for a year and move on.
First car, first “real” job out of university, and first out-of-province move. It would be the first of several moves, I thought.
Readers of the Low Down were thinking the same thing. After just a year here, people asked me where I was going next. And why wouldn’t they? Low Down reporters usually stick around for a year or two, then move on to bigger dailies or television gigs, or find work abroad.
“You came all the way here to work for the Low Down?” some would ask, either laughing in my face or feigning interest.
Why, yes. And I’m damn proud I did, thank you.
Since starting at the Low Down in October 2010, I’ve covered the colourful characters and the controversial political debates of the Hills. I helped this newspaper win a national award for a drinking and driving series, and worked with an incredibly hard-working crew.
I would have bouts of homesickness, but took copies of The Low Down home to Nova Scotia at Christmas to brag about those Hills (being careful not to brag too much, lest anyone else find out about this oasis.)
And then, of course, I got to know many of you. Most of those relationships were, and still are, professional; but many are now also personal.
People like the Chicoines, a family of eight whose generosity seems to know no bounds, and who can somehow feed everybody who walks through their front door; the Symes, who know everything about music and Farrellton; Chris Marriott of Chelsea, who takes time to talk municipal politics; Gary Dimmock, who always has a scoop; and the Gatineau Valley Historical Society, for digging up photos and information, even on Monday deadline.
Then, of course, there’s Low Down publisher Nikki Mantell, who took a chance on an outsider to fill a reporting gig and promptly whipped that outsider into shape. Without her nod of approval, I would not have learned so much about the Gatineau Hills or journalism, or found this really cool place to, dare I say, set down roots.
One year in Wakefield quickly became three. And now, yes, I’m also leaving the Low Down. This is my good-bye editorial. But my dreams of living elsewhere? Not happening. I’m in the Gatineau Hills for now, and very happily so.
On hearing about my plans to leave The Low Down, but stay in the Hills, a friend said: “Now you’re a local – and not just the local reporter.”