I remember Island Tides' early days, back in 1989, when it was run out of my tiny apartment over the Deli in Miners Bay, Mayne Island. I simply had to roll out of bed, turn on the printer and computer as I passed by on the way to putting on the kettle, and my working day—and my life—had begun.
The workload was extremely heavy but I was a woman with a mission. Two previous attempts by other people at a multi-Island paper had failed in eighteen months. To me, those papers had served as a vital forum helping Islanders make informed decisions about the approaching development wave. I felt I had to fill the void. Creating a newspaper that wouldn’t fail seemed the obvious thing to do. So I roped my friend Patrick Brown in and we began.
Patrick showed up in his boat Tightrope on production weekends, tied up at the wharf just down the hill and we put together a newspaper by Monday night. The adventures were many and one day I shall write a book about them.
When we started, I had been living on the Southern Gulf Islands for three glorious years and was a firm believer, and still am, that the Strait of Georgia’s islands and their surrounds are a unique place in the world, where visionary things can happen. The curious and amazing people who choose to live here and our strange, multi-level governance structure are the magic formula. Islanders often grumble about too many levels of government—Capital Regional District, various provincial ministries, Islands Trust, Local Improvement Districts and more recently, the National Park—but actually it is in the cracks between the jurisdictions that remarkable phenomena can grow.
As to what I did with my life before Island Tides, here it is in a nutshell. My first career was as a dolly-bird hairdresser in London in the '60s. After emigrating and taking teacher training, I taught in the Ontario public school system for ten years during which time I earned a B.A. (Theatre Arts) degree. Next I worked in the theatre as a performer, director, producer, playwright, teacher and journalist in Calgary and Vancouver.
After completing an M.A. (Communications Arts) in Movement/Dance Therapy at The International College in Los Angeles (my thesis was a movement course of study for actors), I moved into the fields of event management and public education, designing and creating an interpretive exhibit at the Vancouver Museum in 1985.
I then organized and coordinated the on-site 'Expo Ernie' program at Expo '86 in Vancouver. Immediately after that I moved to the Islands part-time, commuting to teaching assignments in Vancouver. My first Island projects were a Directory of Artists and Artisans, the Outer-Islands Inter-Island Ferry Schedule, a residential improvisation workshop and an arts column for the previous newspapers. Next up was Island Tides.
And Island Tides grew like Topsy—I just kept following my nose to make it work and putting in phenomenal working hours. I certainly wouldn’t have done it anywhere but here—factors such as Island Tides always having an office with a view of the ocean and the sheer beauty of the archipelago have made it a worthwhile adventure.
Business and newspaper technology have changed enormously since we began and our circulation has increased over fivefold! Our print readers are now all over the southern Strait of Georgia and even further afield online. Interestingly, all this has made life easier—though there always seems to be a new challenge.
I have learned more than I could have imagined about business, politics, people and places. Best of all, my daughter works with me and I am now a grandmother with my two young grandsons living only a mile away—life is as good as it gets.