TOUCHING STORIES OF 2016
This week we’re reflecting on the year that was 2016 and what went down over the last 12 months. In this special feature, The Compass takes a look at our online traffic to identify the stories that truly touched readers in some fashion. These stories are built on emotions felt over events both past and present. We hope you’ll take the time to visit your web browser and give these a full read if you missed them the first time around.
Stories can affect the emotions of readers for any number of reasons. They can trigger memories, inspire, or anger, depending on the type of story in question.
At The Compass, we do our best to share a wide variety of stories and lend a voice to people who might not otherwise attract the public’s attention.
Over the course of 52 issues and hundreds of online articles, we’ve told many tales in 2016. Based on web traffic, we present here the top-10 stories that affected readers in some fashion.
1. Former students mourn the loss of popular teacher, coach (April): The sudden death of Randolph “Randy” Ralph in a fatal accident last spring caught a lot of people off guard, including his former students. He was well regarded as a teacher and coach in numerous sports — most prominently wresting — and had memorable stints at Holy Trinity Regional High in Heart’s Content and Carbonear Collegiate. News of his death spread quickly on social media, with many expressing gratitude for having Ralph in their lives.
2. Celebrity magician Penn Jillette learns grandfather is from Carbonear (February): A photo posted to Twitter by Shaun Majumder of the Newfoundland actor and comedian posing with Penn Jillette served as the spark that helped the celebrity magician learn more about his Newfoundland roots. Jillette knew his grandfather was a Newfoundlander, but didn’t know where exactly he was from. A conversation on Twitter led to the discovery Samuel Edgar Gilett was born in Carbonear and eventually immigrated to the States.
3. Bay Roberts parents take a walk to school in the rain (September): The dramatic photo of parents and students walking to school in the rain along the Conception Bay Highway probably didn’t hurt interest in this article about the busing situation at Coley’s Point Primary. Newfoundland and Labrador English School District’s decision to strictly enforce a policy already in place for years to keep kids living within a 1.6-kilometre buffer zone off buses didn’t sit well with a lot of parents in Bay Roberts and elsewhere in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia area.
4. Concussion scare sparks call for change at Harbour Grace rink (January): After their son lost his footing on the ice and flew headlong into the boards without a helmet, Chris and Kim Janes got in touch with The Compass. The 16-year-old sustained a concussion, and the incident left Chris and Kim firmly believing helmets at the rink should be mandatory. As it stands, the town recommends that rink users wear helmets for general skates, but it is not mandatory.
5. Ascension Collegiate 1974 fire stories (August & September): Last summer, Geraldine Curran contacted The Compass about her quest to track down the man who helped her and a dozen other women escape a 1974 fire at Ascension Collegiate. Shortly after the initial story was published, we took a call from the wife of the man Geraldine was looking for. This resulted in a second story, with a third coming shortly thereafter about two other men who helped with the rescue.
6. ‘Run for the Boys’ aids children of couple killed in highway crash (July): Rose and Gerard French of Bay Roberts did a good deed in helping set up a special fundraiser for the three sons of a couple killed in an accident on Veteran’s Memorial Highway last May. The ‘Run for the Boys’ featured an all-terrain vehicle run and a few other events. There was talk last summer of making it an annual event.
7. Carbonear welder recounts fiery ride to Fort McMurray airport (May): There were many stories for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to share about the massive fire that gutted Fort McMurray last spring. Mark Ware- ham, a welder from Carbonear, had to drive directly past flames to make it to the airport and find his way home to family. It was an intense experience to say the least. “It was like the apocalypse, driving through all the flames,” he told The Compass.
8. U.K. politician’s murder shocks Green’s Harbour residents (June): The tragic murder of British politician Jo Cox made headlines all over the world. Sorrow over the parliamentarian’s death was even felt in the Trinity Bay community of Green’s Harbour, where Cox’s parents-in-law lived for a number of years in the 1970s while teaching at local schools. Cox and her young family visited the community in recent years. The Compass spoke with two Green’s Harbour men who knew Gordon and Sheila Cox and met Jo and her family.
9. Surviving a stillbirth takes time (October): Dawn Hurdle bravely told The Compass about her experience coming to grips with the loss of her baby girl in a stillbirth delivery. Dawn was 39 weeks pregnant at the time. “It was like a horrible dream,” the Riverhead, Harbour Grace native told The Compass. “It takes a long while to resonate that something has happened to you.” She was encouraging municipal councils to recognize Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, observed annually around the world Oct. 15.
10 . Shailynn Snow ready for a bigger stage (November): A nice story about a young girl’s dedication to the sport she loves received some good notice from Compass readers. Shailynn Snow of Clarke’s Beach moved to St. Catherine’s, Ont. last fall to attend Ridley College as a student-athlete. While she may miss home, Shailynn has enjoys getting to compete at a higher level, and she dreams of one day representing Canada at the Olympics.
Celebrity magician Penn Jillette with Newfoundland actor Shaun Majumder.
Randolph “Randy” Ralph taught at Holy Trinity High in Heart’s Content and Carbonear Collegiate.
Frazer Smith, left, and Derek and Donna Drover.
Rose and Gerard French were among the organizers for the “Run For The Boys” fundraising event.
Parents and students cross the intersection of Water Street and the Conception Bay Highway in Bay Roberts.
Chris and Kim Janes.
Carbonear’s Mark Wareham with his infant daughter Rylee and wife Sherri.