There’s a new writer (not) in town

I only go down one flight of stairs to get to my place of work. Leaning over my computer and sitting cross-legged in my office chair, I cross Fort Frances with the click of a mouse. Welcome to the life of a remote worker.

From the street view of Google Maps, the Fort Frances Times appears to be located in a concrete building shaped like the top of a medieval castle, a five-minute walk from the Ontario-Minnesota border. The town of Fort Frances has approximately 7,500 inhabitants. People here love hockey, fishing and travel to Minnesota to watch movies. Perhaps that’s why, in many ways, Fort Frances feels like home.

I live in a small town called King City, Ontario, where my brother and I spend our winters playing ice hockey with friends, singing retro songs, and looking for lost pucks in the snow. As children, we often wondered about our future jobs. I never expected to work in journalism for two reasons: 1) I thought my spelling skills needed work (thank goodness for autocorrect!), and 2) I didn’t find my love for writing only in my second year of undergraduate studies. at the University of Toronto.

An elective first introduced me to non-fiction creative writing. In intimate classes of about 30 students, all from different programs and backgrounds, I wrote about memories I hadn’t explored before. My classmates and I exchanged feedback on how to improve our work. We listened to each other’s vulnerabilities in a non-judgmental environment. The experience was liberating and sparked deep within me the words of American writer Joan Didion: I write entirely to know what I think, what I look at, what I see and what it means.

After graduating in the spring of 2021 with a degree in psychology and professional writing and communication, I worked as an editor at The Medium, the student newspaper. The latest pop culture, student politics, world affairs and university research updates were at the forefront of our reporting. The mission was to keep our community informed and to be a medium that amplifies student voices. We staff were determined to delve into the issues that mattered on campus (and we had fun while we were there). Journalism was like the heart of the community, and that’s where I wanted to be.

I was not born and raised in Fort Frances. I did not shop at your local markets or attend annual fairs. In many ways, I am an outsider. Maybe I always will be. Nonetheless, I’m excited to hear your stories, to celebrate your city’s history and culture, and to write for you.

It’s only been about a week and a half of work for me, but I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. From the few people I’ve spoken to so far, Fort Frances seems to be filled with people who are protective and proud of their home. I bet I’ll learn a thing or two about life and community from you, reader. Email me at [email protected] with stories about the city.

To the Fort Frances Times team, thank you for your warm welcome. To the people of Fort Frances, don’t be surprised if you see me in your “Rant & Rave” Facebook groups, at city council meetings, or somewhere in the weekly papers.

Elisa Nguyen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times