jen Nevans- The Grand River Sachem
The Sachem and Glanbrook Gazette’s readers have voted, and Barbara Martindale has been named the best columnist in the 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards.
“I’m just thrilled that they enjoyed reading the history of Caledonia and area,” said Martindale, who has been pumping out For What It’s Worth columns since 1983. “This area, especially along the Grand River, has all kinds of interesting and not so well-known history.”
Her columns today tell the history of Caledonia and area, but she said that wasn’t always the case.
“It’s taken on a few different variations,” she said. “For a while, it was more of an opinion article [and] making people aware of what was going on in the community.”
For What It’s Worth also appeared in the Canadian Community Newspaper Association’s The Publisher during a stint from 1987 to 1993 when she wrote about the association.
Today, she said the purpose of her columns is to instill a sense of pride in local residents, and to allow Martindale to pass along the stories that make up the rich community.
Over the years, Martindale has built up a studio of research that she draws from to make up her columns. This includes various reference books and clippings of old Sachem articles.
“There are also people who have given me scrapbooks – years and years of their scrapbooking,” said Martindale.
While Martindale has written a number of different historical articles including the history surrounding LaFortune Park, Caledonia Chamber’s first president and the Caledonia library, she said one of her favourite topics to write about is Sinclairville.
“That’s where I was born and raised,” she said. “I love to talk about the ghost town of Sinclairville and about what it was all about for many years."
Readers have been enjoying For What It’s Worth for the last 31 years, and Martindale plans to continue writing as long as she can.
“Once I have the time to sit down and do the research, it’s rewarding to do the columns,” she said, adding that it allows her to learn something new about Caledonia and area.
Not only does Martindale have connections to The Sachem through her column, but the Martindale family also has ties to the paper going back 87 years when Martindale’s father-in-law started working at The Sachem in 1927.
He later purchased the paper with his brother in 1945, and even after Martindale sold the newspaper in 1982, the family still stayed close by. Martindale’s father-in-law continued to hold an office at The Sachem until 1995 when he passed away
“Our newspaper office is the only one left in Canada that housed the newspaper for which it was built,” said Martindale, who has also written numerous columns on the history of The Sachem. “That is a real part of what that building is all about. It was built in 1865 and since then, The Sachem has been a part of it.”
Over the years, Martindale has been at the forefront and witnessed significant changes to the paper, but one thing that still stayed the same is the loyal support for the paper’s veteran writers.
“I really appreciate the fact that there’s readership of my column, and that’s one reason why I do it is because I know there’s people who enjoy reading it,” she said.