Column: A fond farewell to Grand Forks

Reporter Kate Saylors bids the paper goodbye after three years.

The time is here. I’ve been with the Gazette for just shy of three years now, and sadly, it’s time to write my goodbye column for the paper.

Some weeks, when I sit down to write this column, I have dozens of things to say and write and I can barely contain it all in one measly column. Other weeks, I am stumped for things to write about, or I feel uninspired, and I can’t write a column at all. This week, it feels like both. This column is a hard one to write, but also one where there is so much to say.

This news is bittersweet; while I’m very sad to be leaving the Gazette and Grand Forks, I’m moving to take a job doing what I have always known I want to be doing: I’m going to be a daily news reporter and photographer in a larger centre, working on news that affects a series of large and small communities in Southwestern Ontario. I’ll be moving to Woodstock, Ont., a nice two-hour drive from my family and many of my friends. This job is everything I have loved about working for the Gazette, on a larger scale.

When I started with the Gazette three years ago, I knew I wouldn’t be here forever. But what I didn’t know was how much I would grow to love this tiny town, its people, its successes and its faults. I once wrote, on the anniversary of my move here, that had I moved across the country to take a job in a big city I would have gone home a long time ago. It was Grand Forks’ open arms, the continued challenge of my job and a love for my adopted community that kept me here as long as I was, and I don’t regret a single day.

When I moved here, I couldn’t imagine not having access to the things I loved about cities – the shopping, the restaurants, the live entertainment every night of the week. Moving to Grand Forks, there were some trade-offs. Instead of a Starbucks on every corner, I got three coffee shops, known as a regular at each one. Live music once in a while, but I knew the performer as a friend and loved their music. I also got wide open skies, hikes along well-travelled trails, quiet camping trips and winding drives around the North Fork valley.

I have learned a lot, living and working here. While I’ve developed professionally, I’ve also picked up some niche knowledge specific to the Boundary. I know more about Russian culture, city council and bear habitat than I ever thought I would; I’m full of fun little factoids about annual allowable cut, forest service roads, Doukhobor cooking and business licence bylaws. Some of this knowledge will come in handy one day; the rest of it will live in my brain as a reminder of living and working in such a unique place.

I also saw this community suffer an immense tragedy last spring. Nearly a year later, I think about that flood every single day. I hope that in five or 10 years, I can visit and find a beautiful, thriving, artistic and welcoming community – all of the things I know Grand Forks to be now, but stronger and healthier.

I’m grateful for all the people who have made me welcome here; everyone who invited me for a meal or coffee, everyone who stopped by the office to introduce themselves, everyone who welcomed me at their events and said hi in passing on the street. While I’m leaving the Boundary, I am so thankful for all the people that made this place home for three of the most important and formative years of my career.

I’ll be around for a bit as I get my affairs in order, and I’ll be with the Gazette for another week yet, but as I can’t see everyone before I leave please take this as my sincere goodbye and thank you for your immense kindness over the past three years.

For now, – Kate