Freelance features

Some of my favourite clippings in this portfolio are longer features.

A Potter-inspired paper

In 2017, I helped out with an eight-page Harry Potter-inspired special edition that my local newspaper published as part of a wizarding weekend event that the town was hosting.The result was such a magical souvenir that we ran out of print copies in an hour.

For the weekend, local businesses in the downtown core took on new identities: The library became Hogwarts, the local newspaper was dubbed The Daily Prophet, and the town council offices became the Wizengamot for the day.

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I was responsible for content: for fact-checking, and interviewing local businesses and writing stories about the design company 3D printing wands, the bakery owner who was making Snitch cake pops and Sorting Hat cupcakes, to the quidditch teams who were putting on demonstrations. I consulted on design and layout, and assisted colleagues in a highly collaborative environment. All in all, the effort translated into a stunning product. Staff had print copies to give away to visitors, but ran out of print copies in an hour!

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The idea behind the big photo on the front page was that it would come alive like JK Rowling’s wizarding newspapers: in practice, we cut the photo out and replaced it with a tablet showing a video on loop, taking inspiration from Empire magazine’s Fantastic Beasts special edition video cover.

Western Horse Review

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I was approached by the Western Horse Review to investigate and write on what happened with the Balzac race track just north of Calgary. It took between four and six months to tie the story together, to track down sources and documents and do interviews.

“Balzac. In Canada’s horse racing world, the name conjures up not the quaint little village on the edge of metropolis Calgary, but rather, images of the track that never happened – despite dedicated efforts by players in the industry and a great deal of money.”

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West magazine

Another feature I’m proud of is about local history in the southern Alberta foothills. It, again, took several months to put together, about the old wagon trail that lead north from Fort Benton in Montana, to Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta. In the 1870s, this trail was the economic lifeblood of the new territory.

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In some parts of Southern Alberta, the trail is still there. Historian Bill Dunn has placed wagon wheels to mark the spots where these grooves in the prairie can still be seen.

Old Road

Halifax magazine

Another story that is close to my heart is half personal essay, half longer feature. In 2010, I travelled back to Halifax to research, interview, and shoot photos for it. There has been a children’s hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia for over 100 years, and an auxiliary bazaar for almost as long. These days, the hospital hosts Kermesse each spring to raise funds for recreation therapy and child life programs, an event that three generations of my family has been involved in for decades. I wrote about this event, interviewed people who’ve volunteered for many years, and examined the connection my grandmother, my mother and I have with it and the hospital.
“Like my mother, I have been attending Kermesse for as long as I can remember. There are moments of pure glee and wonder and excitement.”

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City Palate

Another piece I really enjoyed researching was about an Acadian dish I grew up eating!

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Alberta Venture

I wrote profiles of entrepreneurs like a dance instructor and an urban home builder for this Alberta-based business magazine. In addition, I was asked to write a lengthy article on the most common convention pitfalls and disasters and how to avoid them.

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In addition to all of those, I also pitched on odd and interesting subjects – like ballooning for Where! Calgary.

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OpenFile

OpenFile appeared on the Canadian journalism landscape in 2010 as a crowd-driven, collaborative startup, which relied on ideas from users. Originally launched in Toronto, the community-based journalism site had three years of funding from a Bay Street venture capitalist and expanded to Montreal, Halifax, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa. The idea was that readers had questions about what was going on in their communities, and OpenFile journalists would track down answers and write stories.

I signed on as one of the Calgary-based reporters. I wrote stories on how accessible Calgary was (it wasn’t), about municipal politics, about a beloved indie bicycle shop forced to close its doors, and a profile on organ donors.

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