It’s nice to be home.
I have lived in the Hamilton area for more than 25 years and, yet, it never entirely felt like home.
For most of those years, I would join thousands of other Hamilton area residents who made a daily commute to work outside their community.
In my case it was Oakville, where I worked as a reporter, editor and managing editor at the Oakville Beaver.
Why not move to Oakville? Well, besides the staggering difference in real estate prices, my wife, a lifelong Hamiltonian, worked in Hamilton. One of us had to commute. Since I was accustomed to the drive, we remained in the Hamilton area.
Still, it felt odd to be working in one community as a reporter and editor and living in another. It’s not the ideal situation.
I knew more about the community where I worked, than the community I considered home.
My job was partly to blame. Due to the nature of their jobs, community newspaper reporters and editors are very connected to their communities.
They know the politicians, community leaders municipal bureaucrats and community activists. They know the people behind the many volunteer agencies that provide invaluable service to the community. They know the people who run the schools and the hospitals. They know the local artists, writers and musicians, who help shape the community’s cultural identity. They know many of the businesspeople, merchants and professionals, who help drive the local economy.
They are familiar with the issues – past and present – which have shaped the community.
And if they remain long enough at the newspaper, they know the community’s history.
Which is why I have always felt a little distant from the community I called home – Hamilton.
In truth, while I lived in Hamilton, most of my waking hours were spent in Oakville, or worse, on the highway between Hamilton and Oakville.
When it came time to vote in the federal, provincial or municipal elections, I could always give a comfortable recommendation for the Oakville candidates, but struggled to arrive at the same comfort level when casting a ballot in Hamilton.
It’s not that I have no ties to the community. I have numerous family and friends in Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Dundas and Ancaster.
We raised two boys who attended Mountainview School and Orchard Park Secondary School in Stoney Creek. My youngest graduated from McMaster University. He now works in Ancaster and lives in Dundas.
We have attended almost every Winona Peach Festival and many Stoney Creek and Hamilton Santa Claus parades.
We have seen many Battle of Stoney Creek re-enactments and enjoyed the annual fireworks.
When my son was a member of the Stoney Creek 713 Air Cadets, I helped run many of their bingos.
I cheer for the Hamilton Tiger Cats, except once a year when they host the Saskatchewan Roughriders. On those occasions, I display my prairie roots (born in Moose Jaw, raised in Regina) and join a few hundred other Rider fans wearing green in the stands at Ivor Wynne stadium.
Despite all this, I never felt completely at home in Hamilton. There was always a feeling in the back of my mind that this is where I slept, but not where I lived.
So when an opening came for the Managing Editor’s position at the Hamilton Community News, I jumped at the chance.
Fortunately, my application was successful.
I’m the first to admit I still have a lot to learn about the areas served by our four newspapers — the Stoney Creek News, Dundas Star News, Ancaster News and Hamilton Mountain News.
However, I have inherited a talented and experienced editorial team, who are all very well connected to their communities. They have been a tremendous help as I settle into my new position. Like I said at the beginning of this column, it’s good to be home.
— Hamilton Community News Managing Editor Rod Jerred can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @HCN_editor.
It’s nice to be home.