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There we were, lined up on the shore of the Saskatchewan River, awaiting the delivery of the first copies of our pilot issue of the magazine which were to be arriving by canoe. In our midst were media buyers, writers and photographers, radio and TV reporters, politicians and our good friends holding our 6-day-old daughter, Magdelaine Rose.
This day, October 9, 1998, started out a little tentative and we were worried. Rain threatened, even snow, but we prayed that it would hold off. We were staying at a bed and breakfast in Dalmeny and I don't doubt that our hostess was wondering what on earth was going through my head to have my newborn on the road so soon after she was born. But Maggie slept peacefully, unaware of the exciting day that lay ahead.
(I should mention that the naming of our daughter and the launching of the magazine at about the same time were completely unrelated. In fact, I had only made the connection years later when we attended the Manitoba Magazine Awards, otherwise known as the "Maggie Awards.")
We had reserved a section of the Saskatoon Berry Barn for our event. The tables were full, standing room only, and we had word that the canoe was coming. Lionel went down to meet Cliff Speer who dressed in traditional Métis costume for the event. As cameras flashed and media bustled, Lionel received the brown package containing the first copies of "Saskatchewan Naturally Magazine."
(For those that are new to the magazine, I should mention that we launched as "Saskatchewan Naturally Magazine" and changed our name to "Prairies North Magazine" in 2004. Same magazine, same people, just a new title. That story will come in a future blog.)
The package was carefully unwrapped and we revealed our dream—48-pages of beautiful photography and stories about the people and places of Saskatchewan. The night before we had hand-numbered and signed 50 of those first copies. (I wonder where they all are now?) Everyone began perusing the pages. Amid "oo's" and "ah's" we ran people through the issue describing how we desired to show the world that Saskatchewan IS a beautiful place with interesting people.
The celebration took place mid-afternoon, so we served bottles of Saskatoon berry cider and the classic Saskatoon berry pie in keeping with our provincial traditional foods. A toast was made to "Saskatchewan Naturally Magazine."
Soon, people were handing around their copies to the contributors for signing and we realized what an event this had become. Political dignitaries stepped up to express their good wishes, marketing executives from big companies offered their comments of encouragement (and hopefully some advertising dollars down the road.) All the while the media was gathering material for the evening news. The momentum just grew and we stood there answering questions, speaking with new friends, quite memorized by the activity.
Eventually, the crowd disappeared (it was a Friday afternoon) and we paused to share a bowl of soup. If I hadn't already been exhausted from childbirth less than a week earlier, the push to launch the magazine took the last bit of stuffing out of me. It was time to get back to Norquay and begin the next phase of our work, the promotion of the magazine at tradeshows.
That'll be my next blog... Be prepared for some laughs!