Six Months in the Soo – where did the time go?

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Honestly, growing up, all I knew of Sault Ste. Marie was that they were the home of the Greyhounds, an OHL team who came to Memorial Gardens in Guelph once a year.

When I applied for this position, I was looking for a place where I could continue chasing my dreams; storytelling, sharing breaking news and reporting on hard news stories.
I was recovering from surgery and working in a warehouse while running my own news blog in Southern Ontario.

After a virtual interview, my first trip to the Soo included a less than 24 hours stay. I signed documents, found a temporary home, and learned you do not turn left on Great Northern Road between 3 and 6 p.m…. ever!

The weekend of September 14, 2020 I packed my Jeep and made the 788 km trip, to a place where I knew almost no-one, but needed a journalist.

Moving into my temporary home downtown for a few weeks, I quickly learned something else about this city, you do not have to go far to find kindness.

Everyone was willing to give me directions when I got lost ( and still do), meet me to tell their stories and be patient while I got acquainted with my surroundings.

I also learned West was North, East was not really east, it’s a long way to anywhere and we are one-way street enthusiasts in our downtown.

Thanksgiving weekend, I brought the rest of my family up to a more permanent home. I was offered help from people who hardly knew me to move and get me settled even more in the community. That weekend was also one of my first big stories in the community, a barricaded person on the west end.

Sault Fire Services on scene of a industrial building fire in the 1100 block of Peoples Road, Feb. 15, 2021. (Dan Gray/SaultOnline.com)

My relationship with our emergency services has grown from that point. Covering “Breaking news” has always been a priority for me I believe it is important to a community to know the services they pay for are out working, and not just see a press release the next day. I hope the photo’s I take and the stories I tell bring you a little closer to the realities our everyday hero’s face.

 

Addiction and crime quickly became a focus of my work as there seemed to be a serious lack services. Hours of conversation and many stories later, it is still an issue plaquing this community, an issue I am passionate about and hope to see solved.

The Hudson Street FOI story after council chose to sell the property for $350,000 made it clear transparency is not big here. Pointe Des Chenes and other decisions have left citizens wanting answers and shaking their heads.

Six months and 350 stories into life in the Soo I’ve learned so many things and here are a few highlights:

  • This wasn’t a real winter, so don’t count on it going forward;
  • no one knows how to deal with blackflies, I’ve asked;
  • there are potholes everywhere;
  • everyone I’ve met, from the homeless to the businessperson has a passion for some part of this city;
  • fact based journalism is appreciated, this was the one I was worried about most, and happy to continue producing.

As my boss puts it, I’m employed to tell your stories and get to the bottom of issues in this community. Without readers, what is journalism anyway?

I look forward to years of bringing you the hard-hitting news and photos that I know I’m gaining a reputation for, as well as events and stories of love and loss.

I know I haven’t met a lot of you yet, I hope to meet you sometime, as always, if you have any story ideas, feel free to reach out and share it with me.

As I hope to grow old here, what do I tell people who have never heard of Sault Ste. Marie? Come visit, we are more than just an OHL team and a stop along the Trans Canada highway.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Dan, Welcome! The Sault is fabulous place to live and enjoy. Just wait for the ‘actual’ summer and all the green and pristine wilderness to explore.

  2. Thank you for all your great photos and reporting as it happens events. Welcome to the Sault.

  3. Coming from a media family I will say your journalism is much appreciated. Thanks for telling all sides of any story. A journalist who is pretty much center on reporting is not easy to find in today’s media culture. Thanks. Ron…..

  4. Glad to hear your experience has been positive.
    After moving here I found most people nice and made a few great friends but my experiences have been largely negative. Crime, cronyism, lack of access to programs, tight cliques.
    People definitely have a passion for this city and in a lot of cases cult-like mentalities.

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