ERIC MCCARTHY: Parting comments from longtime journalist


Editor, Please permit me space in The Guardian to express my thank you to the Journal Pioneer, The Guardian, SaltWire Network, and previous parent companies, for the opportunity to write stories about my favourite part of Prince Edward Island, West Prince, for so many years. It has, indeed, been an honour to do so.

Of course, I want to extend my thank you to readers for their support and encouragement, and to the many individuals who placed their trust in me to share their stories. I’ve particularly enjoyed the stories with a happy ending — the calm after a storm, the outpouring of support in the wake of a tragedy, such as the province-wide backing Tyne Valley received following the loss of their Community Sports Centre, and perseverence leading to success and victory. There were the stories that hapened like clockwork, too, like the annual Westisle Composite High School athletic awards banquet and high school graduation, the annual festivals and, of course, hockey rivalries.

Eric McCarthy worked as a journalist in West Prince, P.E.I. for various publications for more than 40 years. Louise Vessey photo

I got my start writing about efforts to get better prices for what had been a lucrative Irish moss industry in West Prince. That industry has now all but disappeared, a reminder that change is constant.

I started and ended my career working from home. At first it was on a manual typewriter, banging out copy that I either dropped off at Albert Saunders’ store at Bloomfield Corner to catch The Journal-Pioneer’s afternoon truck to Summerside, or I called the copy in to the Summerside newsroom where usually Gertrude (Deighan) Trainor, Beryl MacDonald or Brian Dunning would take my dictation. It used to scare me when I’d get Brian on the line, because I knew his long pauses meant he was changing around my sentence structure or rearranging paragraphs, but I soon came to appreciate his instruction.

Sometimes on the line it would be managing editor, Ron England, the man who hired me in May of 1978. He could maintain a running commentary of the events of the day while one-finger typing at blazing speed. His commentary would sometimes be interrupted by a sudden shriek, a sure indication that the likes of Blair Jay, Des Arsenault or Bruce MacDougall had sneaked into his office at the top of the stairs and scared the wits out of him.

There were also the many late-night trips to deliver black and white film cannisters to Summerside so they’d be there before Ernie DesRoches commenced his morning shift in the darkroom. That was back in the day when Gordie Lapp had the Regent rocking as the hottest night spot in Prince County, so there were usually lots of friends willing to accompany me on my film runs. I fondly recall the tireless work of legendary sports editor Bill Semple, and I salute Jason Simmonds who has so capably and proudly carried on Bill’s tradition.

There are so many others to name for their commitment to the Journal Pioneer, including Andy Walker, fellow West Prince natives Darlene Shea and Wayne Young, and my longtime friend and colleague in the Alberton office, Paula McDonald and her successor, Tracy Richard. It has been my privilege to work with all of you. I have but one wish: that SaltWire Network will maintain a physical presence in West Prince.

This area is filled with many lively and caring characters each with a good story to tell.

I will end this letter with just two parting words: Notebook closed.

Eric McCarthy is a retired journalist living in Bloomfield.