COMMENT: Turning the page on the Stittsville News

"The Two Johns". Longtime Stittsville News reporters John Curry (left) and John Brummell at City Hall in January 2017. Brummell received a Mayor's City Builder Award after his retirement from the newspaper. Photo via Deborah Brummell / Stittsville Neighbours.

“That daily experience of seeing your local places, names and events creates a kind of resonance and connection and investment with where you live. Canadians pay a lot of lip service to the importance of telling Canadian stories. We are so used to seeing American references that just watching a movie, for example, set in a Canadian place will “charge us up” with local feeling. A sense of seeing “ourselves” portrayed.

That’s the daily charge of a local paper. Investing you with news and culture of YOUR PLACE. Take that away and you genuinely diminish that feeling in a community. That is a real loss. Especially in a world where people are increasingly living in a central abstract space. A ‘no place.'”

–Seth, on the role of local newspapers. From the Globe & Mail, January 2016.

After decades being one of the only constants in our community, the Stittsville News wound up being just another line item on a big corporation’s balance sheet.

The Stittsville News is one of dozens of community papers being closed by corporate conglomerates Postmedia and Torstar. About 250 people will lose their jobs in January when the last papers roll off the presses.

Stittsville will lose an institution that has been publishing for 60 years. The first edition was published on December 12, 1957 by founder Howard Maguire, who was also Goulbourn’s first full-time fire chief.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve run into current reporters John Curry and Brian Dryden and the now-retired John Brummell at local events. They are everywhere in our community. They are the reporters who sit through hours of community association meetings and cover local hockey games. They are the photographers who chronicle school graduations and neighbourhood picnics and music recitals.

I feel for Curry the most.  He bought the paper as a young newspaperman in 1975 for $6,000, and stuck with it as a reporter and editor for more than four decades, some of it under various corporate overlords after he sold the paper in 2001.

“It was a tough gig,” reported Devyn Barrie in a profile of Curry published in the Algonquin Times. “The hours were long and the pay was low. The newspaper served a small community and barely broke even. But Curry wasn’t in it for the money. He wanted to do good journalism, report for the community and have fun doing it.”

I feel for the dozens of community groups like the Legion, the Lions, the Rotary Club who rely on the Stittsville News to get their info out into the community.  And I feel for the army of kids (and few adults) who earn a bit of pocket money delivering the paper to our doorstep each week.

New companies will step up to try to provide some semblance of the coverage that the Stittsville News and others like it provided.  And to be sure, there are still a few independent papers left in the Ottawa area.

But in Stittsville we’ve lost an institution that has reflected us, has connected us, has shaped us for six decades.


"The Two Johns". Longtime Stittsville News reporters John Curry (left) and John Brummell at City Hall in January 2017. Brummell received a Mayor's City Builder Award after his retirement from the newspaper.
“The Two Johns”. Longtime Stittsville News reporters John Curry (left) and John Brummell at City Hall in January 2017. Brummell received a Mayor’s City Builder Award after his retirement from the newspaper. Photo via Deborah Brummell / Stittsville Neighbours.


13 thoughts on “COMMENT: Turning the page on the Stittsville News”

  1. Oh this is awful! I clearly remember the ‘two John’s ‘ being present at almost every event of my childhood: from my grade five graduation, to my first job as a “Pumpkin Greeter” at Saunder’s Farm, to stories about MES closing, and the impact on our community (growth of Stittsville included).

    I remember the first time I saw John Curry taking pictures at an assembly at Stittsville Public School, with my oldest two presenting. What an amazing ‘circle of life’ type moment: Stittsville News as a part of my childhood, and a continuing part of my adventure as a parent.

    My Mom saved everything ,and recently gave me a box of memories that includes so many newspaper clippings of the events of my childhood: every single one captured by the Stittsville News and their devoted team.

    If nothing can be done to save the Stittsville news, let’s at minimum have some kind of recognition and ceremony to mark the incredible contributions these men, and their peers, have made to our community.

    I will sorely miss this institution. A memory of the small town Stittsville that was.

  2. I am deeply saddened by the loss of Stittsville’s local newspaper. Thank you for the many year’s of dedicated work John Curry and John Brummell.

  3. It was with mixed emotions – sad and mad at the same time – when I discovered what the demise of the Stittsville News was going to be. John Curry and John Brummel built the paper and it grew with the population covering practically every facet of Stittsville and environs stories and lives. If you wanted anything known John Curry was the go-to guy to get it printed. He always did a fantastic job covering the Goulbourn Township Historical Society and the Goulbourn Horticultural Society events and meetings. We will certainly miss this coverage. John’s dedication and professionalism will be sorely missed in our community and must be recognized for all the amazing coverage throughout the years.

  4. A sad day for Stittsville residents and friends. while I am sure there were others involved, my thanks do go to the two Johns. It seems that I know each of them as friends even though we have never met in person. I hope that there will be a way to keep Sittsville in print and I will now also access this site to keep abreast of what is happening in Stittsville.

  5. I have fond memories of the paper as a young resident and personally. My first memories of the paper was having my picture taken by John C. performing in baton, figure skating and tap dance, starting in pre-K era. Also, I can remember being in Kindergarten and Gr.1, seeing John C. come onto Stittsville Public grounds, wearing his typical, dress pants, dress shirt, tie and Mr. Dressup cardigan. I’d run up … “Hello Mr. Curry!”.

    I’d get to know John and his mum, Mary, personally when Dad (the other John) and I would spend Hallow’s Eve going around the village taking pictures of the kids. Me with my clipboard, paper, pen and flashlight – Dad with his camera. And when done, we went over to the Curry’s have a warm drink and go over our evening work with John and his mum, Mary.

    My first real full-time summer job was working for John and Mary. Taking phone calls, writing down ads and giving rate information for ads.

    Fond memories….

  6. Missing John and John already! We could ALWAYS count on one of them covering even the Smallest Interest Story. Thanks for making everyone in the community feel so darned important when we saw our Names in Print and our smiling faces in “The Paper”! My Riding Hat is off to you both! Grits McMullen Sunset Farms XO XO

  7. I am shocked that there will be no more Stittsville News. Community papers started up without the conglomerates so I’d like to think that can happen again. As we know, all you need is a basement, and some paid advertisement – start small – grow big. There is a need; and an opportunity for an entrepreneur.

  8. A huge THANK YOU to the Stittsville News and its stalwart and humble heroes: John Curry and his Mother, Mary Curry; and John Brummel. With your dedication, respect and love, the Stittsville News described, celebrated, debated and kindled the heart and soul of our community. Thank you for all the Great Years. Ever grateful, Louise Beggs.

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