Behind the Lens: 1 year in the Soo

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An aerial shot of Sault Ste. Marie, Summer 2021 - Dan Gray

“Where is Sault Ste. Marie again?”

That was the question I asked my Dad before I went to apply for this position last August. I was unsure of my decision to come here, it was a long way from “home”, but it was the best decision of my life.

After 365 days, 816 stories, 8,500+ photos, 244,000 words and 22,000 km’s criss-crossing this beautiful city and district, I am now able to tell people where we are, how to get here and a little bit about how to navigate our one-way streets.

Chippawa Falls, Fall, 2020- Dan Gray

The heart of this place, where I have gone from renting to buying a home, is good. There are good people in this city everywhere, you just have to look past some of the issues. My dad advised me recently “Don’t let the bad you cover, cover up the good you have in this city.  There is a lot of good here.” A sentiment with which I agree.

What have I learned in the past year?

When people told me this whole city is connected, I didn’t believe it at first. When I would ask incredulous questions about things which would be basic knowledge in Southern Ontario, the running joke at the office was “Welcome to the Sault… We do things differently here.”

Our community has many challenges.

Sault Fire Services were on scene of large industrial fire in the north end of the city overnight April 30, 2021 (Dan Gray/SaultOnline.com)

I’ve cried with parents who have lost their loved ones to substance abuse. Been the silent observer when firefighters pulled a victim out of a fire. I’ve covered a police service who, despite having its hands tied, does multiple things to try and fix the problems.  I’ve watched paramedics try, unsuccessfully, to bring someone back to life and conversely, I have also witnessed them achieve that goal.

We were even able to have a kid meet his heroes, when the Snowbirds came to town.

Xander and his family with Captain Patrice Powis-Clement, Snowbird 4 pilot from St. Joseph Island (Dan Gray/SaultOnline.com)

I do this job to be your voice. Municipal stories including the $350,000 for a vacant lot, closing of a beloved campground, a replacement arena and ever a ballooning budget on the downtown plaza consume my time so that the public may see what some may not want them to.

I remember one of the first emergency services stories I attended was on Wallace Terrace. I was met by an onlooker who asked what I was doing, and when I explained, they promptly told me, “we don’t need Southern Ontario reporting here.  It won’t work.”

I’ve become part of an amazing team at Superior Media, who has become family to me.  They all have the same vision and passion to be your eyes and your voice in the community. My Girlfriend who had never left Mid-Western Ontario, loves how close to nature we are here, even though we still both find the distance to family and other places staggering.

Hub Trail, Fall, 2020 – Dan Gray

I’ve had my life threatened, become friends with complete strangers, met amazing people and learned to love the uniqueness that is Sault Ste. Marie.

Someone asked me the other day, when considering moving here from Southern Ontario, if I would do it again knowing everything I know about our city.

I told them absolutely. Every place has its problems, and every place has its highlights. What we may lose in having severe crime, we gain in having the beauty of our wilderness, right inside our city limits.

I always tell them, even though it may not seem that way, we are still “Algoma’s Friendliest City.”

Just stop and ask for directions sometime (or lots of times, as it was with me, if we had met when I first got here).  Observe how many people nod or say good morning during a walk on the Hub Trail, or how fast some neighbours are to fill you in when you move into a neighbourhood and you will see the evidence supporting that title.

The Prime Minister stopped on his way out of town for a refreshment on Queen Street, meeting with donors and citizens, July 5, 2021 (Dan Gray/SaultOnline.com)

I look forward to bringing your stories to the public and the stories that matter to you for years to come.

Through all the issues, early morning calls, and ups and downs that come with being a community-based multi-media reporter in Sault Ste. Marie, if I had a chance to answer the question “Where is Sault Ste. Marie?” to anyone that asked me, I’m proud to say…

“Home”

14 COMMENTS

  1. We moved here 8 years ago to be close to extended family…..they moved out west…..we stayed……I’m alone now….familyon the west coast and southern Ontario……I’m still here…..best neighbour’s, best church, best job, best friends……best city!! Perfect…….no…..where is…….but I am HOME in SSM!

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  2. Please keep on top of the rogue mayor and his irrational behavior and spending of large sums of money that the city doesn’t have without voter approval, on completely unnecessary real estate and downtown plazas instead of the real priorities like the ever increasing violent crime and badly needed addiction services.

  3. FINALLY…we have a newsperson interested in getting out in the city and finding stories. Too many sites use all kinds of wire news to fill their spaces. I notice Dan is always first on the spot to provide us with what is going on. Congrats and I hope you stay here for a long time.

  4. Dan, we are absolutely lucky to have you!
    This story brought tears to my eyes. The “Soo” is a fabulous city and full of amazing people.

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  5. Dan, we are so lucky to have you. I am glad you made the move to the Sault. It does have warts, but you are quick to show people the good in our city. Not an easy task. Thank you for choosing us!!

  6. Thank you Dan for being the best Reporter here in the Sault . I always look forward to read what your report is.
    Psst, just a reminder we Stop for funeral processions and if possible get out of your vehicle and pay our respect.

  7. Thanks for all you do here Dan. You are a welcome and fresh view to what happens here in Sault Ste Marie. You tell the stories that need to be told and have enough pride in your work to let people know when you report something incorrectly. You are the real deal and don’t let anyone tell you Southern Ontario reporting won’t work here. Whatever that means. You search out the truth and bring it up front and centre. I wish the other two news agencies here would start reporting the news and not what gets regurgitated to them by………well they know who they are.

  8. You have been doing a great job. I am one that normally doesn’t say much and keeps my opinion to my self. You have been a great addition to the news here in the north. You definitely do not show your political colours one way or another. Keep up the great work. Your are the voice of most that would not speak up

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