West Carleton Online’s Top 10 in 2019

By Jake Davies - West Carleton Online

WEST CARLETON – 2019 was West Carleton Online’s first full calendar year of operation. After five months of operation, 2019 was when we really hit our stride. We had a stable number of subscribers who were now accustomed to visiting West Carleton’s first daily-publishing media service every day.

When we first launched, the first question out of many curious community members was what day does West Carleton Online publish? Our answer was always a surprise to those who hadn’t heard of us – all of them.

While growth is still a definite need for West Carleton Online to be able to say we are stable and will be here forever, we are happy to say we continue to grow and continue to get better every day. And of course, that is thanks to our subscribers and advertisers’ support and encouragement.

In 2019 we had 197, 885 pageviews. That’s just more than 542 every single day. We think those numbers are impressive too. But our goal is one million pageviews a year.

Anyway, that’s not what this story is about. This story is about West Carleton Online’s Top 10 stories from 2019. What separates our Top 10 lists from the others is two things. From publisher Jake Davies’ media monitoring, our Top 10 list seems to be coming out last. There were tons of Top 10 2019 lists published over the last couple weeks it seems. Well we include Dec. 31 as part of 2019, and we wanted to include it too.

The other thing that separates our Top 10 list from the others is it is our readers who pick the stories on our list. That’s why we told you how many pageviews we had in 2019 and why including Dec. 31 (and every day in 2019) was important. After all every day is roughly 542 votes.

So almost enough of our meandering pre-amble. We now present our Top 10 West Carleton Online stories for 2019 as chosen by our readers. This year’s list seems very heavy on hard news stories, so following that, our publisher will pick a few of his favourites he worked on this year. All the stories in our two lists have been unlocked so non-subscribers can read them, see what we’re about and consider how valuable their support of West Carleton Online could be.

In 2019, West Carleton Online published roughly 1,488 stories.  All the stories on our 2019 Top 10 list were written exclusively for West Carleton Online:

10. Warriors good deeds getting noticed

West Carleton Online was the first to shine the news’ spotlight on the West Carleton Warriors peewee A team that would be named the 2019 Chevy Good Deeds Cup champions and win $100,000 for West Carleton Disaster Relief.

Our first of many stories on the Warriors quest was published Feb. 2, 2019 introducing the community to the team that ended up raising more than $110,000 for West Carleton tornado relief starting with a fundraising effort at the Carp Fair the day after the Sept. 21, 2018 tornado. We spoke to coach Sean Lecuyer, players and parents in our first story, was on the Rideau Canal the day they were declared winners and followed them every step of the way (and continue to do so):

9. Morning Woodlawn fire destroys home

An early morning Sept. 30, 2019 fire destroyed a volunteer firefighters’ home in Woodlawn. The fire killed a family pet and left a young family homeless at the time. Fire stories are always tragic and always garner a lot of interest from the reader. They are often the first step in recovery as the community learns about the tragedy. Following the news, the community often mobilizes to assist those affected by the tragedy any way they can. We don’t have hard statistics but 2019 seemed like a bad year for fires which included one week in which three West Carleton homes were destroyed by fire.

8. Ridge Rock celebrates its founders

West Carleton Online has done a few stories on the success of West Carleton’s first micro-brewery The Ridge Rock Brewing Company. This Aug. 29, 2019 story was our second most popular business story of 2019. It was a chance for West Carleton Online to sit down with the four founders, all local boys, and talk about the first year of a new venture. One thing West Carleton Online has learned since its launch, West Carleton loves local business stories:

7. Galetta’s Moyes brings the EOSHL to WC

Adrian Moyes grew up in Constance Bay and played hockey for the West Carleton Warriors. In 2019, the 30-year-old Galetta resident brought Senior A hockey to West Carleton in the form of the Rivermen who are playing in the inaugural season of the Eastern Ontario Senior A Hockey League and roughly halfway through the season, are at the top of the standings. We were the first to introduce the team to the community on July 30, 2019 and have been sharing their league and community leading exploits ever since:

6. OC Transpo crash victim a WC resident

West Carleton Online shared the devastating news Jan. 14, 2019 Woodlawn resident and West Carleton community leader Judy Booth was one of the three fatalities in the Jan. 11 bus crash at Westboro station. On Aug. 10, the Constance Bay Community Market dedicated a bench in Judy’s name:

5. March Rd. plan proposes 1,681 new units

Development and urban sprawl always makes ears perk up in West Carleton. This March 21, 2019 story elicited a ton of comments on our social media platforms. West Carleton residents love their rural lifestyle and any news of nearby, large developments always attracts attention and this story proved that:

4. Flood levels now reaching WC basements

Unbelievably our top spring flood story published April 28, 2019 ‘only’ peaked at Number 4. We believe that is in part due to the huge number of stories West Carleton Online published on the record-breaking, devastating 2019 spring freshet that submerged much of West Carleton for more than a month. West Carleton Online covered and published more stories and photos related to the spring flood emergency than any other media outlet and its not even close. During the peak of the crisis, West Carleton Online was publishing several stories every single day providing important information and links from those offering assistance as well as personal stories of the property owners, volunteers and flood-fighters trying desperately to mitigate the flood’s damage. We helped sandbag in three different West Carleton communities and also provided free access to all our flood coverage because it was the right thing to do. To put in context, we did not want our Top 10 list to be dominated by flood stories because West Carleton is way more than the victim of tragedies. To make our list we wanted to our Top 10 stories unrelated to one another. To do that we had to bypass seven other flood stories that received more views then our final Top 10 story. We continue to cover fallout from the flood including a December story on those still traumatized by the flood and yesterday’s (Dec. 31) story on the beginning of the draining of Lake Ontario:

3. New location, new challenge, new hope

Who’da thunk a profile on a convenience store would be a Top 4 2019 story and West Carleton Online’s Number One business story for 2019. Store owners August Guo and Cathy Xu paint a vivid picture of the challenges of operating a small business in an industry beleaguered by challenges. We can relate:

2. Two dead in 417 multi-vehicle collision

On July 7, 2019 two people were killed in a multi-vehicle collision on Hwy. 417 near the Panmure Road exit. A tragic story of a person wanted by police who based on reports, despite police pursuit being called off, intentially took his vehicle down the wrong way of the westbound lanes:

1. Kinburn hootenanny marks sad occasion

Brian Foley’s First Annual Old-Fashioned Hootenanny was a fundraiser in his granddaughter’s memory to raise money for research in to acute myeloid leukemia. Five days before her first birthday, Mélia Payne was diagnosed with the rare form of cancer. She passed away a year later. Foley’s event crushed its goal of $15,000, raising, from all reports, more than $30,000:

Our Fave Five

Actually, not necessarily our favourite, but certainly some of our favourites. We wanted a catchy headline. Here are five stories, in no particular order, we enjoyed working on in 2019.

1. The ‘River Days’ of Fitzroy Harbour

Retired Rev. Jack Lougheed, 94, is a true delight. We spent three hours speaking with him in his home last November, talking about his recently passed wife, the family history, the book she wrote, life in the early days of Fitzroy Harbour, philosophy, writing and a whole bunch of other topics. My fear was not being able to condense a three-hour conversation, told to me by a man far more educated and intelligent, in to a news story that made sense, respected his wife’s legacy and captured the history of the community. I can’t say if we accomplished that, but Rev. Lougheed said some nice things after reading it:

2. Quyon Ferry captain hangs up hat

I think what I liked about this story was being able to take the Quyon Ferry to a party in Quebec – just like I used to do in my teens. I got to speak to Capt. Don McColgan who was retiring from his beloved ferry business at a party in his honour at the Quyon Royal Canadian Legion:

3. Pinhey’s Point ghost story

Megs Colbourn is another engaging human being. This story was borne out of a Facebook date for some community members to get together and share local legends and ghost stories. I wasn’t able to attend that event, but was sure to follow up with the host and was not disappointed with the opportunity to speak with a sixth generation Pinhey last August:

4. Blackhawks jersey fits de Haan fine

In 20 years, I haven’t had the chance to interview too many National Hockey League players, although there have been a couple. But never have I had the opportunity to sit down for a one-on-one interview with an NHL player. Until last August, when I had the chance to interview seven-year veteran Carp native Calvin de Haan who, as a part owner of Ridge Rock, was in town for a special event. We were able to chat about his business venture; his past season as a member of the ‘bunch of jerks’ Carolina Hurricanes; and his upcoming season with the Chicago Blackhawks. Unfortunately for de Haan, his season ended last week:

5. Green’s Purdy battles on a budget

Dunrobin resident Dr. Jennifer Purdy represented the Green Party in Kanata-Carleton during last October’s federal election. During the campaign, she proved herself to be the most researched, most intelligent and perhaps the most qualified candidate with the most innovative ideas in the election. We sat down with her on Election Day (Oct. 22) to talk about the campaign and her experience as a first-time candidate. She finished second last in voting. Her election budget was more than $100,000 less than either the Liberal or Conservative party. She didn’t have much of a chance. The story touched on the inequalities of party politics and the unfairness of the current funding system:

Honestly, I could have picked dozens of stories for this list. And would have, but we have already gone on for far too long. We hope you enjoyed our readers’ and West Carleton Online’s top stories of 2019. We hope you will consider supporting, what we think, is one of the most innovative and unique community journalism outlets, not just in Ottawa, but all of Canada. A small subscription fee of $50 is all you have to risk to see if we’re right.

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