That photo up there was the first one I ever shot for this newspaper, way back in February of 2012. We ran it on the front page that week as part of Winterfest celebrations here in Cornwall. I'm not going to lie to you…it's my niece.
Family is a big part of what we do at this newspaper, and it's why writing this column is so difficult.
It will be my last as editor of Seaway News.
Starting next week a new person will assume the role of journalist at this newspaper – and my decision to move away from a career that I have truly cherished is something that will weigh on me in the days and weeks ahead.
I recently chose to take on a new challenge, one that I know will bring new successes and (I hope) rewards that I can share with every member of our community. In the meantime the reality of my decision has slowly begun to sink in…and while I look forward to the future with optimism, it's only normal to look back at the fun one has had.
And that's what this job has been about, for the most part - fun. Maybe it's why, on occasion in this space, I have referred to Cornwall as 'Fun City'. It's a moniker I stole from the late, great CCVS teacher Bill Metcalfe, who would use the nickname regularly to describe Cornwall.
This job has afforded me the opportunity, for example, to soar above our city in a biplane, sail the St. Lawrence River in a billion-dollar naval frigate and rub shoulders with the likes of high-profile politicians and celebrities who have visited Cornwall.
But it's the people closer to home I will miss the most. One of my favourite interviews was with former Cornwall mayor Phil Poirier, who sadly succumbed to cancer in April, 2014. Barely a week before he passed away Phil consented to an interview, telling me he wanted to ensure his final public comments were relayed with professionalism and accuracy.
The fact that he chose me and our newspaper to do that is something I'll never forget. Not because we do our jobs any better than anyone else – but because a man staring death in the face chose us because of the relationship we had cemented in the years leading up to that moment. Phil trusted us…and I can honestly say we have worked hard to gain that trust with every one of the people that has crossed our path.
Others have been brave enough to share information with us on my watch, sometimes anonymously, for what they believed to be the greater good of our community. To know that I may have played a small role in gaining that trust is something else I'll miss when I write my final story for the Seaway News.
The toughest part of moving on is worrying about what you leave behind – but in this case I know Seaway News in good hands. The staff and contributors that I now consider to be close friends have nothing but the best interests of both readers and advertisers as their main motivation for success.
I must carve out some space to thank people like Rick Shaver for welcoming me into the fold at this newspaper. I owe a lot to people like Rick, who also want nothing but the best for our community and work hard to that end.
Another is Claude McIntosh. He doesn't know this, but I was scared to death of Mac when I met him for the first time, nearly 20 years ago, as I cut my teeth as a young reporter. It was probably his fiery nature - he once dressed in a suit and tie to layout newspaper pages because a low-brow managing editor complained his jeans and Montreal Canadiens sweater weren't proper attire for an office.
Whatever the reason, it took a while for our friendship to blossom. Contrary to popular belief in many circles, he has not been the source of any city hall 'scoops' we have been fortunate to uncover.
But he has been a powerful sounding board when I needed newspaper advice, and I can only hope we get the chance to talk as often in the future as we have in the past.
When I made the move to the Seaway News in 2012 there was one person, beyond the support I can always count on from my family, who knew it was a smart move, almost from day one.
Regardless of how a column was received, a story was written or a photograph was shot, she always had my back and was ready to defend her husband's decision-making, regardless of the circumstance.
It's been a running joke in our house that every other Monday, when I cover city council, supper for her is usually a bowl of ketchup-laden Kraft dinner, or some cold cereal.
I'm proud to say that now I'll be home (almost) every night to cook for Kimberly – she deserves that and so much more for standing beside an old newspaper man.