Fort Macleod paid tribute last week to individuals, organizations and businesses that make the community a great place to live.
The Chamber of Commerce presented its annual awards March 22 before 100 people gathered in the Elks Hall.
“This is not a contest. It’s not about winners or losers,” master of ceremonies John Viens said. “It’s really about acknowledging contribution and extraordinary hard work and achievement.” George Gaschler was named the 2005 Citizen of the Year, and 19-year-old Ryland Moranz was selected the Junior Citizen of the Year. South Country Fair received the Community Enhancement Award, and Luigi’s Pizza and Steakhouse earned the Chamber’s Hospitality and Tourism Award. Fort Macleod UFA was recognized with the Customer Service Award, Macleod Feed Mill was the Agri-Industry Award winner and The Macleod Gazette was honoured as the 2005 Outstanding Business.
Since 1882, Fort Macleod has never been without a local newspaper. Eight years after Col. James Macleod and his cavalcade of 150 North West Mounted Police ended their trek west and established Fort Macleod on a small island in the Old Man’s River in 1874, The Macleod Gazette was founded by C.E.D. Wood and E.T. Saunders, two ex-mounted policemen. “A small town newspaper enjoys a special relationship with the community it serves,” Gazette publisher Frank McTighe said. “It is an independent business and must operate like one in order to meet its financial obligations.”
“At the same time the readers, the people the newspaper serves, feel a very strong sense of ownership toward the newspaper,” McTighe added.
“They let the newspaper come into their homes each week, and through that relationship there develops a strong bond.”
The Macleod Gazette was the third newspaper to be published in the Territories, proceeded by the Battleford Herald and Edmonton Bulletin.
The Bulletin later closed its doors and in 1905 the Battleford Herald became a part of Saskatchewan, leaving the Gazette as being Alberta’s oldest continuously published newspaper.
The Macleod Gazette has evolved with the newspaper industry, starting from those first days when type was set by hand, to the days of hot metal and linotype machines, to the cold type process of the 1970s, to computers and desktop publishing technology of today that allows the newspaper pages to be e-mailed to the printer.
“The Macleod Gazette has established a strong reputation for quality journalism,” master of ceremonies John Viens said, noting the paper earned recognition from the Pulitzer Prize committee in 1938 along with the Edmonton Journal and other Alberta weekly newspapers for their successful fight to defend freedom of the press against a repressive provincial government.
The paper has also won numerous national and provincial awards through the decades, and in 2004, The Macleod Gazette was named the best all-around newspaper in its circulation category by the Canadian Community Newspapers Association.
“This is an incredible place to do my job as a journalist. It’s just marvellous,” McTighe said. “There is no end to the great stories that we get to tell on the pages of The Gazette, and I want to thank you for trusting us to tell those stories.”
McTighe said he was humbled to receive the award because there are so many deserving businesses in town, and because of his relatively short tenure as owner of the newspaper.
“People like Jack Murphy and Cliff Moses, these are the men who kept the newspaper going for decades and it’s a testament to their commitment and dedication to their business and to your community that The Macleod Gazette stands as the oldest newspaper in Alberta today,” McTighe said.
“On behalf of Jack and Cliff and the many other newspaper men and women who have come before us, I accept this award tonight.”