It is the time of year when this journalist tends to become reflective on a career that has now stretched beyond three decades scratching stories for Yorkton This Week.
When I first received a letter offering me a position at the then ‘Enterprise’ it was a position where I was to focus some effort weekly on agriculture.
With farming in my background and my then-wife having family at Yorkton it was easy to say yes.
As it happened one of my earliest assignments was to head down and find Shaun Morin, then manager of the Yorkton Exhibition Association (YEA) to interview him on the upcoming Harvest Showdown which was being launched. I found Shaun pounding pegs through the asphalt to anchor tents being erected to house part of the show.
So, each November when Harvest Showdown arrives I roughly mark my own anniversary in the city.
Of course this year there was no Harvest Showdown, the event lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet I feel this anniversary more keenly than all the others.
There are a few reasons I am more reflective starting, I suppose, with my 60th birthday in April, and added to that was a decision to move within the city, leaving a place that had been home for 22-years. Nothing gets you thinking about your past more than moving the accumulation of decades of being something of a self-professed pack rat.
The move included taking a Bernie Brown print off the wall presented to me by the YEA for having covered Harvest Showdown in each of its first 20-years.
The same year the YEA marked exhibitors that had participated in each of the first 20-years as well – among them was John Simpson, a red Angus producer from Theodore. I mention John because he recently died, and the announcement on social media hit rather close to home. John and I were ‘fair’ friends, meaning our paths crossed at YEA events over the decades as he volunteered at the summer fair, helped at 4-H events, was a director at Harvest Showdown and showed there and Agribition as well.
Simpson was simply one of the ‘good guys’ who was always someone I liked running into for a quick word about cattle or weather both topics being about as rural Saskatchewan as you can get.
When Harvest Showdown returns it will never be quite the same without John Simpson. You will be missed my friend.
And, then within a few days of learning John had passed I read Gary Dunbar had also died.
Gary and his wife Carole have raised horses for decades and that includes standardbreds they raced including for several years on Friday nights at the YEA races in the city that were so popular until the Saskatchewan Party government killed standardbred racing by cutting the small annual grant it had provided.
I was fan of pacers and trotters since I was young and watched Dauphin’s Jim Wallace race at summer fairs, attracted in-part no doubt because of his feisty daughter Sharon who led me into trouble as I was growing up.
In Gary Dunbar I found a mentor of sorts in the finer points of racing, and I was an eager ear for his stories of trading horses and showing all over the continent through the years. I had not seen him since the days of racing here, but he too is one that is missed in my thoughts.
And, so I reflect on the years past, friends gone, and wonder at what the future holds, as we all must do, as tomorrow is always a mystery.
Calvin Daniels is Editor with Yorkton This Week.