Following the trend I have set with my latest columns, this one will also be on the topic of local history.
Usually I look back in the archives at a milestone number of years, in the same month that we are in. Our archives are so vast, being that the Wingham Advance Times is over 150 years old, I need to set some boundaries to make this a reasonable task.
This time around, the inspiration from this column comes from an old copy of the paper loaned to me.
Also published this week, you can read an article – written by yours truly – about the 30th anniversary of the Wingham Ecological Park. As part of my research into this story, I met with members of the original planning committee, and one of those committee members had plenty of hard copies of their original documents to share with me. Among those documents was a yellowing, black and white only copy of the Wingham Advance Times dated March 4, 1992.
The top story on the front page of this paper was announcing the federal funding received by the Ecological Park committee.
As research for this anniversary story, I read the article on pages one and three. However, I found myself reading the rest of the newspaper for my personal pleasure.
After reading several stories in this issue, I found myself thinking, “The saying really is true, history really does repeat itself.”
Also appearing on the front page was a story about local hospital cutbacks. In an interview the Monday before publishing, then Chief Executive Officer Norman Hayes elaborated on what the hospital’s response would be to the provincial funding cutbacks. The strategies included closure of a portion of the hospital’s second floor. The newspaper reported, “This area was closed for all but two months last year, but Mr. Hayes says it likely will be closed now for the entire year.”
Does this at all sound familiar?
Also on the front page, Huron County council approved a 6.3 per cent spending increase, resulting in a 1.3 per cent increase in the local taxes. Then Huron County Warden Robert Fischer said this increase was largely based on the economic climate, and the fact that provincial transfers were frozen at one per cent.
This has to ring a bell for you.
In a letter from a local high school student, it was shared that due to a lack of funding from the Ministry of Education, if a teacher was absent from a class – for example, because they coached a sport team – no supply teacher would be provided for the students of that class. Instead, the students were asked to work in the cafeteria or library on assignments left behind by the absent teacher.
Do you think this is what happened? No. Does this sound familiar at all? It should.
Some might look at the examples I have given and questioned whether we have made any advancements at all as a society.
I would like to remind you of the period of time, pre-pandemic, where we as a society were basking in the results of the strong economic growth, steady job creation, and general economic boom that came later in the 1990s.
As Jeff Probst, the long-time host of the TV show Survivor famously said, “Greater the challenge, greater the reward.”
Lately it feels like we are all trying to survive on a deserted island, like those on the adventure game show, but I truly believe that in due time we will reap the rewards just like those did before us, and likely the same as those in the future.
Kelsey Bent is a journalist with Midwestern Newspapers. She can be reached for comment by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.