I almost didn’t move to the Comox Valley.
After being hired as an editor at the Black Press-owned North Island Gazette in Port Hardy, I added publisher duties to my job description. That made me a curious, half-mad creature called a publisher-editor.
After two and half years, Black Press’ president Jim Tighe, vice-president Kirk Freeman and I determined that I was really an editor. They assured me of a job in a Black Press newsroom somewhere on the Island.
I was supposed to go to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, but something went sideways and the vice-president contacted me to say the Nanaimo job had been promised to another.
Would I consider moving to the Comox Valley, he asked sheepishly.
After exploring Vancouver Island a bit, I wanted to be nowhere else — no offence intended to Nanaimo or anywhere else on this magnificent island.
The Comox Valley scenery was magnificent. The people seemed to be that wonderful middle ground between big-city indifference and small-town nosiness.
I was correct on both counts, but I really didn’t know the Comox Valley well. I didn’t give it and its inhabitants anywhere near enough credit.
In the almost nine years since — leading to my final pre-retirement day as Record editor this Friday, I have marvelled at the number of creative artists and artisans who live here.
The music scene alone is as rich and varied as a sound hound could want. The place truly lives up to its reputation as the Valley of Festivals and the Land of Plenty.
I have spent many pleasurable hours at MusicFest, Filberg Festival and variations on the Big Time Out theme.
Furthermore, I have never lived anyplace where I love the place and the people as in the Comox Valley.
My wife Kimberley, who hails from southern Ontario, has commented many times about how Comox Valley people are so friendly. She has lived in several other places in B.C., so this is not an idle observation.
Limited space in the newspaper is preventing me from mentioning the names of a great many people who have supported me and made Kimberley and I feel welcome.
After a restful vacation that is Phase One of the reinvention process, I hope to interact with many of you on social media and even in person (still my favourite).
My wife and I have no plans to leave the Valley, and I hope I will get a chance to tell all of you in person how special you are and how you have made me feel.
Good luck to my successor Terry Farrell, newsroom co-workers and everyone else at the Record.
I plan to write, find some work around the Valley and get out to catch great live music that is a big part of my quality of life here.
If you see me, stop and say hello. I’ll be the guy with the goofy look on his face that says I can’t believe I get to see every day what tourists come from all over the world to experience.
Until Friday, April 11, Mark Allan is the editor of the Comox Valley Record.