Black Press Media marks the end of an era as a 31-year, hometown journalist retires.
Don Descoteau spent a decade in various forms of sales before turning to the ink as a sports writer for the Williams Lake Tribune in November 1991.
For a guy who grew up on the south Island, it was a foray into many new experiences.
He encountered firsts such as rodeo coverage, wildlife and in his words “real winter.”
Landing in the central Cariboo in November also meant the advent of snowmobile racing and cross-country skiing. Summer sports included stories that saw him stand shoulder to shoulder with one of the most notorious bulls on the pro tour.
“All that was new to a city kid,” Descoteau reflects.
Sports also helped him return to his Island roots, shifting to the Campbell River Mirror in 1995.
When a job became available in Victoria, he hurried home – leaving the sports beat behind – to expand his horizons. Descoteau admits being a little apprehensive, council meetings and weekly briefings with the police department were new endeavours. Again he forged relationships and still counts people such as MLA Rob Fleming and former MP Denise Savoie among his friends.
He learned from longtime journalists such as Keith Norbury (retired) and Kevin Laird, currently editor of Sooke News Mirror.
Looking past Descoteau’s professed love for the Boston Bruins and Red Sox and focused on his passion for journalism, Laird moved Descoteau into the assistant editor role at Victoria News in 2007.
“I found him to be very enthusiastic and hardworking. He’d spend the time to get the job done right – even if that meant staying late to do it. He was always eager to improve himself,” Laird said. “Don was passionate about journalism and was a great guy to work with. He made people around him better, and they became better journalists and people because of it.”
Readers across the region will know his byline, as Descoteau has served as editor of Goldstream Gazette, Oak Bay News, Victoria News, Peninsula News Review and Monday Magazine. He’s written impress branded content and most recently returned to the Victoria news hub as a paginator then editor.
“Whenever we needed Don, he always stepped up,” group publisher Michelle Cabana said.
Among dozens of accolades over the decades, winning a Webster stands out. Descoteau was a member of the award-winning project that looked at the Capital Regional District sewage treatment challenges. Designed to bring newcomers into the conversation, the spring 2016 project earned a coveted Jack Webster Award.
While the bassist for the Groove Diggers band, and longtime field hockey player plans to add more golf to his repertoire and naturally spend time with family, the byline spotted across the province for three decades is likely to reappear.
He’s already on a freelance assignment for Monday Magazine.
“I’m expecting to find myself in town having coffee with one or more of my many acquaintances,” Descoteau said. “I enjoy doing that too.”
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