Jul 27, 2013
With the support of St. Lawrence College in Kingston, a small group of concerned citizens, which first met in November 1970 in the old Anglican rectory in Sharbot Lake, was able to collect some information from a survey and gather a few more people for a February meeting in the Sharbot Lake High School. The results of the survey and discussion showed that there was no sense of a ‘North Frontenac’ community.
Respondents identified with their village or township. They also identified the major problem in the area as a lack of some form of communication. Newspapers, radio, and TV all originated elsewhere and carried practically no news of North Frontenac...Several participants decided to form a ‘Communications Group’, with the idea of issuing a small newspaper and initiating as much inter-communication among residents of the area as possible. It was obvious to this group that no one township or village could do much on its own, and the lack of identity should be tackled head-on.
They originated The North Frontenac News. The first edition was devoted to the theme ‘It could be up to us’ and asked the question, ‘What has the 70’s to offer North Frontenac residents? Is it only game preserves, pockets of governmental privilege, few services, and spotty seasonal unemployment? The paper was a modest mimeographed sheet distributed for free pick-up in every local grocery store. For the first time, the area was identified and had a public forum.”
- Professor Art Stinson, Carleton University, 1976
The members of the original communications group were Ron Gilbertson, Marcel Giroux, Don Morrow, Merv Rutherford and Martin Walsh.
Ron Gilbertson was a teacher at Sharbot Lake High School at that time. When interviewed in 2002 he recalled, “There wasn’t a whole lot of communication between us – Merv Rutherford wrote it, then gave it to me to type. I in turn gave it to Don Morrow after it was run off on an old mimeograph machine in the basement of the Anglican rectory. Don then delivered it to the stores.”
Martin Walsh commented that the group felt that community issues had to be faced, or outsiders would determine the region’s future. “Merv Rutherford tackled the issues and challenged the residents to become involved,” said Walsh.
The Land O'Lakes NewsWeb, initiated by the late David Brison (photo left) in 1999, shared similar goals to the Frontenac News and was supported in its initial phases by The Land O'Lakes Communications Network. One of the objectives of the NewsWeb was to foster a sense of regional identity by featuring articles which contributed to a sense of regional pride. Another objective, shared with the Land O'Lakes Communications Network, was to demonstrate how new technology could facilitate communication in a relatively isolated, sparsely populated rural region. Critical to the attainment of this objective was an increase in Internet availability.
Since its inception, The North Frontenac News had been supported by the Board of North Frontenac Community Services Corporation, until it was declared surplus and to be sold. The Board decided it was important that the paper continue to be owned and operated locally. In a gutsy move, they rejected an offer of more money from a publisher who operated a small chain of newspapers. In the process of making their decision, the Board found out just how much the paper meant to the residents of the region.
Board members were deluged by phone calls from people who were concerned that the paper would be sold to an outside publisher.
In July of 2000, The North Frontenac News was rechristened when it was purchased by David Brison and Sara Carpenter, and the Newsweb became the online edition of the newspaper.