Echo staffer marks 25 years in newspaper industry
Creemore Echo office manager Georgi Denison has earned a Silver Quill in recognition of 25 years of service to the newspaper industry.
Denison has actually been working for local media a bit longer. She was initially hired by Gordon Badger to work as a receptionist for Creemore Star.
Denison had come from Toronto to be with her new husband John, a Dunedin resident. She had worked for the Royal Bank downtown but was having a heck of a time finding work.
She got a third interview at Honda but then they asked her if she was planning to have any children? She said yes, and that was that.
There was an opening at The Star when the receptionist went on maternity leave. When she showed up for her first day of work, Badger was away on vacation and no one was expecting her so her start date was delayed one week.
Being born and raised in Duntroon helped her to integrate into the community.
“I knew a lot of the families and had connections to the community. It really helped me,” said Denison.
“Not long after starting [Badger] purchased the Midland paper, which came with a computer system so we computerized the whole operation,” recalls Denison.
But it wasn’t all high tech – the accounting system was a rolodex, the bills were in paper folders and, as it was before e-mail, the newspaper had to be saved on a disk and driven to the printer.
In 1992, Denison went on maternity leave and it wasn’t until six years later that a twist of fate would bring her back to the newspaper office.
By then, The Creemore Star had folded and Sylvia Wiggins had started publishing The Creemore Echo (the office was where 100 Mile Store is now).
Denison had a resumé on file at Creemore Springs Brewery (owned by John Wiggins) and lo and behold, she got a call from Sylvia for a job as receptionist and looking after the retail area. She gradually took on billing, banking and bookkeeping.
When The Creemore Echo started to go under, the large staff was whittled down, leaving no paper and Denison as the sole employee.
“But people still wanted calendars and classifieds so I did that on a sheet of paper,” she said.
It was distributed by mail until new owners Craig Simpson and Phil Stevenson came on board.
Denison recalls the day they came to see the office. Her young daughter Lisa was too sick to go to school so she was laying on a blanket under the desk.
“I was so dedicated,” said Denison, laughing. “I should have just stayed home.”
During the transition Denison recalls Simpson saying, “Our only asset is Georgi.”
Under new management, they furnished the office with castoffs found in the dumpster behind a home décor store (Dovetail Interiors). They gradually added news and content eventually going up to a double-sided ledger sheet of paper, and growing into the broadsheet newspaper we have today.
Denison’s fond memories are of lunches in the backyard with the Creemore Star staff, enjoying Roy Emerton’s homemade cabbage rolls, attending the annual Creemore Businessmen’s Christmas dinner and dance at the Legion, pizza parties to celebrate milestones at Creemore Echo (and staff ‘team-building’ trips to see Dolly Parton and Elton John).
“Time has really flown by. I’ve always been here to help people,” said Denison. “It has been great to have so many loyal customers supporting us all these years.”
Her surprise ending is that Denison has announced she is retiring. She and John are putting their house on the market and they are moving to London, Ont., to be closer to their children and grandchildren.