I started my newspaper career in Thunder Bay. It was 1971.
I had been working for the federal government on a research project and when that assignment ended (not without controversy or agreement on my part), I headed to the Fort William Times Journal for work. After my second day (50 bucks a week), I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Six months later, my nascent career was interrupted as I was fired for being too keen and occasionally untoward. It was a Thomson Newspaper.
That was my introduction to Northern Ontario, and I’ve been doing business here ever since.
I remain mesmerized by the land and the people.
No matter the occupation, or purpose, or reason for being here, the land eventually shapes you. Sometimes it is the beauty, sometimes it is the space, and sometimes it is the danger.
This awards program started right here in Thunder Bay 29 years ago. The purpose was to celebrate the best among us; the entrepreneurs, business people and innovators who took the challenge of prospering in this tough, cyclical, resource-based economy.
The irony is that the toughness, the sometimes heartbreaking challenges we face in the North brings a kind of joy and satisfaction that is simply unavailable in larger urban markets. The fact is our enterprise and optimism is needed here.
This life is not for everybody, but for those who love Northern Ontario there is no other way to be.
This year’s winners reflect the vibrancy and growing maturity of our economy. They reflect a continuing focus on good service but also the imperative that we need to raise our own capital to be successful and technological innovation are now just table stakes for prosperity.
We’ve come a long way in the last 29 years, and it has been a joy to catalogue and share the best among us for so long.
Thank you for being a part of this celebration of these extraordinary people. I would also like to thank our own team of heroes who put this event on in a new Northern Ontario city each year. I am lucky to have them and we are very lucky to have you.
It is a thrill to be back to Thunder Bay where it all started. Enjoy.