Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
June 19, 2024
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Legendary newspaperman Jack Evans ushered into Ontario Community Newspaper Hall of Fame
<p>The latest member of the Ontario Community Newspaper Association&#8217;s Hall of Fame Jack Evans. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)</p>
The latest member of the Ontario Community Newspaper Association’s Hall of Fame Jack Evans. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

The tenured dean of journalism in the Quinte region is taking his rightful place in the Ontario Community Newspaper Hall of Fame.

Jack Evans, a former Gazette staffer under legendary editor Phil Dodds, became the editor of this newspaper in the 1960’s. 

He is still plying his craft today, at the age of 89. As a freelancer, his byline appears in various local outlets including Postmedia’s County Weekly News and the Belleville IntelligencerGrapevine magazine, and other periodicals of note.

And now, he’s a community newspaper Hall of Famer.

“I really must thank the Picton Gazette and their editorial team for submitting my case to the OCNA. It is a tremendous honour to have my work recognized this way. It’s the cherry on top of my journalism career,” Mr. Evans said.

During his two separate stints with Prince Edward County’s newspaper of record, Mr. Evans dutifully served his community in a number of avenues outside of his assignments at the newspaper. 

He served as Picton’s municipal councillor for a term in 1973-74. He took part in over 30 theatrical performances at the Regent Theatre. He also sang in a local church choir. 

It is a tremendous honour to have my work recognized in this way. It is the cherry on top of my journalism career.”

Jack Evans

His civic engagement and connection with the community helped him to stay engaged with Prince Edward County and develop important and well read reporting.

“To say he has become part of the fabric of the County is an understatement. A respected community figure outside of his writing, Jack Evans’ work in the pages of the Picton Gazette was fulsome, engaging, accurate, and well read,” said editor Jason Parks.

Bitten by the Bug

As a boy chorister in Belleville, Jack Evans was bit by the journalism bug. Using a borrowed typewriter, he hen pecked stories on the chorus’s activities. Amended versions would wind up in the Ontario Intelligencer sans byline but Mr. Evans would admit: “I had the bug.”

The bug brought him to Picton, first as the local bureau chief of the Kingston Whig-Standard and then his first tenure with the Gazette alongside the legendary Mr. Dodds.

“I covered rural farm groups, town and county councils, and the same types of stories are still covered today. Phil called it the ‘Dirt Beat,’ but I just loved it. I became a member of the Kinsmen Club of Picton and joined the choir in St. Mary Magdalene Church. Later, I served on the committee to raise funds for a complete rebuilding of the organ,” Mr. Evans told me.

Former Gazette editor Jack Evans, 1974

Returning Home

After a handful of years at the Gazette, Jack would try his hand once again with dailies, and worked for the Oshawa Times and Sudbury Star. But the taste of fresh curd, local strawberries and the gentle agricultural climate led Jack to apply for the position of editor at the Gazette. His return to Picton was extremely fulfilling. At the helm, Jack reunited with political and business leaders, shop staff and old friends. He also developed a good working relationship with the First Canadian Guards at the former Camp Picton, and provided Gazette readers with excellent coverage of the unit’s peacekeeping activities in Cyprus, even travelling to the region for a two-week stint in the mid 60’s.

Mr. Evans then circled the Bay of Quinte, moving back between the Intelligencer and the Trentonian before officially retiring in 1999.

Even in his golden years, though, he’s steadfast on the beat, telling important and thoughtful stories to the delight of his readership.

“I cherish all my years as a journalist, the places, the stories and especially the colourful cast of people I have met. I believe that when you do a story, it is not really your story, but that of the person you are writing about. I also remember the publisher of The Whig-Standard when I was there, saying: ‘There’s a million stories a day going on in this city, and we’re only getting a small handful of them.” Those stories are still going on…and I am still covering them.”

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 23 edition of The Picton Gazette
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