Morrison’s legacy recognized with OCNA Hall of Fame honour

HALL OF FAMER- The Late Jean Morrison, longtime publisher of the Picton Gazette and the Napanee Beaver, will be inducted into the Ontario Community Newspaper Association Hall of Fame in April. (Napanee Beaver photo)

JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

The Ontario Community Newspaper Association has is recognizing the legacy of the longtime publisher of the Picton Gazette and the Napanee Beaver.

The OCNA announced last week that the late Jean Morrison would be enshrined in the organization’s Hall of Fame at a gala ceremony in Toronto April 3.

The Hall of Fame award is a new honour for the OCNA which was founded in 1950 and is a non-profit industry association comprising roughly 240 member newspapers located throughout Ontario. 

The  award is designed to recognize and celebrate individuals who have made exemplary contributions to Ontario’s community newspapers. Inductees will be respected community news professionals who have remained passionate about the industry throughout challenges, opportunities and changes.

Nominees for the Hall of Fame award can come from all aspects of the industry, including but not limited to: editorial, advertising, publishing, production, circulation, finance, sales or design.

Executive Director of the OCNA Caroline Medwell called Morrison an  integral, active and admired leader in the community 

newspaper business for many years and noted the publisher was not only a long- time member of the Canadian and the 

Ontario Community Newspapers Associations but also the International Press Institute as well as serving as President of the OCNA in 1987. 

 “Her interests and contributions were many and she is an inspiration to all of us in the community newspaper world,” Medwell told the Gazette.

On behalf of the Morrison family which includes son Chris and daughter Leslie Fournier, Tracey Lindberg extended her thanks to the OCNA for recognizing her late mother and long time industry leader.

“We are so very pleased and grateful to have our mom’s life and legacy honoured by the OCNA ‘Hall of Fame’ award,” Lindberg said. “Mom believed that small town newspapers play the most vital role in telling community stories. She shone in her role as publisher and her life work is a testament to her dedication and passion to local news. We extend a heartfelt thank you to the OCNA for honouring our mother. This award will be cherished not only by her family, but also the Napanee Beaver and Picton Gazette family.”

Morrison is part of a nine member inaugural group of Hall of Fame winners but the publisher who passed in October, 2019 was considered by many industry leaders to be in a class all by herself.

Born in New Hamburg, ON, Jean Morrison (nee Bier) was a teacher by trade and, after graduating from the University of Western Ontario, she taught mathematics at Napanee District Secondary School prior to marrying newspaper editor Earl Morrison.

The couple bought the Napanee Beaver in 1953 and became pillars in the Lennox & Addington community.

Seeking to expand, Earl Morrison eyed the Picton Gazette and purchased Canada’s  oldest community newspaper in July, 1977.

But then tragedy struck the Morrison family as Earl passed away unexpectedly in 1978.

The passing of the paper’s patriarch left Jean Morrison at a crossroads-she could have sold her newspapers and travelled a different path or stay the course and become somewhat of a pioneer, becoming one of the few female publishers of a multi-newspaper chain in Canada.

Jean Morrison exemplified courage and set a sterling example for many young businesswomen, taking on the task of publishing the Beaver and the Gazette  exemplifying non-conformity in the male-dominated world of publishing.

The courage, dedication and iron will Jean Morrison showed in those early years, setting the highest of high standards for journalism and advertising excellence netted both newspapers several awards through organizations such as the OCNA as well as the Canadian Newspaper Association.

In her own words in a forward in Lennox & Addington, a historical account of the people and places of that municipality, Jean Morrison admitted she managed her newspapers in her own style, exhibiting her own flair and foresight.

“I have been managing the newspaper now for more than 30 years, but not necessarily in the style that Earl might have. That was his dream. As publisher, however, I have enjoyed my many years in this warm and friendly community.”