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My former boss finally publishes his first book of columns - it's about time

By: Liz Dadson
July 20, 2017

My former boss, Eric Howald (above), publisher of the Kincardine Independent newspaper for almost 40 years, has finally done what he said he was going to do - and only three years after he officially retired.

He has published a book containing some of his favourite columns, "From the Editor's Notebook," from April, 1975, when he started the newspaper, through to 1995.

"Houdini, turkeys and the small town editor" was launched Thursday night at The Independent office with about as much fanfare as I expected from Eric, given his low-key manner and reluctance for the spotlight. There weren't even refreshments!

People arrived and milled about, sharing stories and memories, and Eric autographed his book with a laugh as he remembered lots of crazy times, sitting at his typewriter and later his computer, in his office on Kincardine's main street for four decades.

I worked with Eric for 12 years, from July, 1995, to April, 2007. So, I heard about a lot of the wild and zany characters from those early years but I really didn't have a handle on them, since I hadn't taken the time to go back and read about them in  his columns.

During the years I worked there, the staff often urged Eric to put together a compilation of his columns because they certainly speak to the history of the Kincardine community, as well as the impact the outside world had on this little town on the shores of Lake Huron.

Eric opens his book with, "The small town editor is an endangered species." And he's right. Most print newspapers are just a shadow of their former selves. They have just one or two reporters trying to do the work of a half-dozen, and they're competing with on-line news, instant news from the Internet, Facebook, etc., and even Fake News.

In the next few paragraphs in the Foreword of his book, Eric states, "A good newspaper editor plays a vital role in the community." Then he lists the many attributes of a good newspaper editor.

I covered Kincardine Town Council when I first arrived in town, and after amalgamation in 1999, I had the onerous job of covering the new council of the Municipality of Kincardine which includes the town, Kincardine Township and Bruce Township.

Nothing was more fun than arriving at the office Thursday morning to discuss what council had done now! They were great conversations and it was a thrill to find that information and Eric's opinion of that council decision included in that week's "From the Editor's Notebook."

It was a pleasure to work with Eric and the team that put out The Independent each week for 12 years. I learned a lot and when I left, I worked for just over a year at the Shoreline Beacon in Port Elgin, then the Kincardine Times for five years, and then decided it was time to branch out on my own, just as the Kincardine Independent did 40 years ago.

So, it was a lot of fun to walk into the Independent office Thursday night, and have Eric sign my copy of his book. I've already read half of it and it makes me laugh, particularly the stabs at Kincardine council - because that never grows old!

"Houdini, turkeys and the small town editor" is available at The Independent office and at Fincher's in downtown Kincardine. Cost is $15 plus tax ($15.75). And Eric will be signing books again, tomorrow night (Friday, July 21), from 5-6:30 p.m., at The Independent office, 840 Queen Street, Kincardine (cash or cheque only).

If you live out of the area, you can receive a copy by mail by sending your address along with a cheque for $20 to: Eric Howald, 840A Queen Street, Kincardine, Ontario, N2Z 2Y2.

The front of the book says "Volume 1 - 1975-1995." Perhaps if he sells out these books, Eric will put together the compilation I most want to read - Volume 2 - 1996-2014.

Ah, life in the fast lane!


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