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Fare thee well, Jack McCarthy

“This is the 1172th column I have written for the Lake Country Calendar newspaper. In the autumn of 1995, Jack McCarthy called me. ‘How’d you like to write a column for us?’ he asked. That’s how it began.

Jack was the owner and publisher of The Calendar, a weekly newspaper serving the four small unincorporated communities of Winfield, Okanagan Centre, Oyama and Carr’s Landing.

The Calendar hadn’t always been a newspaper. It had started as, quite literally, a calendar of local events, started by the Women’s Institute in 1951 and published monthly — several sheets of letter-size paper, mimeographed and stapled.

Remember mimeographs? In the days before photocopying — loooong before digital images — community organizations and churches relied on mimeograph machines to print their publications. The operators typically came home with fingers stained with blue ink. And often with sore arms from turning a hand crank.

Jack McCarthy and a partner bought the old Calendar, and turned it into a weekly newspaper. He risked investing in typesetting equipment. For a former plumber, a Nashville musician (who for a while had the great Chet Atkins as backup guitarist), and a man who planned to be a psychiatric nurse, it was a whole new career.

But he turned The Calendar into much more than just a newspaper.

The Calendar became the glue that drew four independent communities together into a new municipality. Indeed, Jack invented the name that the provincial government eventually legislated into existence — ‘Lake Country.’ Some cynics suggest that he simply got tired of including all four names in the paper’s masthead. Whatever the reason, the shorter name stuck.

The Calendar also became the voice of ordinary folks in the four communities. Over some 40 years, Jack collected a range of local columnists who reflected all regions and viewpoints.

Either Jack or a staff reporter attended every Council meeting of the new District of Lake Country. No significant policies slipped by unchallenged. And if local residents had a beef with municipal practices, they tended to go to Jack and demand, ‘What are YOU going to do about it?’

Growing up in the area, Jack knew everyone. Indeed, given the low population of the original communities, he was related to many of them!

Like all pioneer farm families, he grew up knowing what it meant to be poor. He also knew what it meant to work hard. He was active in dozens of local causes, especially the Lions Club, and for many years chaired the municipal Parks and Recreation Committee.

He was the third generation of his family farming the same land. The McCarthy barn was a local landmark — until it burned down one night, and took 30 years of Calendar archives with it.

Jack valued, and fought to retain, the close-knit community he grew up with. But it was a losing battle. Some attribute his eventual breakdown, which resulted in the sale of his newspaper to Black Press, to seeing his beloved community overwhelmed by growth-at-any-cost housing developments.

Jack McCarthy died Saturday, June 23, [2018] at the age of 76. I don’t expect to see his like again. I consider it a privilege to have worked for him, and with him.”1

Jack McCarthy
MCCARTHY, Jack (Rodney) Jackson
1942 – 20182

The community is invited to join the family at a celebration of Jack’s life on Sunday, July 15th, 2018 at 1 p.m. at George Elliot Secondary School.

1 Jim Taylor, “Fare thee well, Jack McCarthy” in Lake Country Calendar, July 4, 2018, pp. A4-A5.

2 McCarthy, Jack (Rodney Jackson), Castanet

1 Comment

  • Jack has been, throughout his life, a great community member – hard working, principled and thoughtful. In high school he was jocular and carefree but he certainly took to his roles as responsible business and community leader right afterwards.

    Goodbye friend.

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