Reading The Expositor convinced Les Kostick to leave Toronto, move to Manitoulin

Lorne Kostick reads his Expositor in the driveway of his Assiginack home.

Your local community newspaper turns 137 with this issue

MANITOWANING—This week’s paper marks the change in volume from 136 to 137, meaning that your community newspaper, the oldest in Northern Ontario, is celebrating its 137th birthday. The very first edition of this newspaper came out on May 24, 1879, presumably scheduled to coincide with the birthday of the popular Queen Victoria. The paper spent its first few years in Manitowaning. Fitting, then, that our annual birthday story takes place in that same community and relates how this newspaper convinced someone to move there from Toronto.

Many know Island transplant Lorne Kostick from his Les Stuff business just outside of Manitowaning. He jokes that “I’m the place with the green house that grows machinery,’ and true to his word, his lawn is covered with mechanical bits and bobs waiting to be sold. Mr. Kostick is an affable fellow with a pleasant word for everyone and a love of Manitoulin that runs deep, despite his having been here for a relatively short 13 year stint (not long enough yet for him to lose the ‘from away’ status).

During March Break of 2003, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) had an art installation titled ‘Audge’s Place’ that literally saw Audrey Wemigwans’ Wikwemikong kitchen dismantled and brought to the AGO, a pot of corn soup always simmering on the stove, inviting visitors in for a bowl and some good conversation.

“I went to the AGO, I hadn’t been there for 35, maybe 40 years,” Mr. Kostick told this newspaper last week. As part of the installation, The Expositor printed a special section to tout Manitoulin Island which was handed out to visitors of the gallery. Mr. Kostick took a copy home with him. “It said it was printed by you (The Expositor), the oldest newspaper in the North, and I thought ‘how interesting is that’,” he said. “I called up the office and asked if you would send me a copy of the paper as I was interested in getting a subscription. You did.” Mr. Kostick joked that he had also made the same request of the Wiarton Echo, but they declined, and he’s happy for it.

Expositor Publisher Rick McCutcheon explained that “the special edition that Mr. Kostick responded to, The Expositor had produced for Debajehmujig Theatre to distribute when they were in residence at the AGO.”

“Audrey Wemigwans, then as now a part of the Debaj crew, had her kitchen replicated where people could drop in and have a bowl of corn soup,” he added.

Mr. McCutcheon explained that Debajehmujig artistic director Ron Berti had suggested the publication at the time, and The Expositor obliged. “It’s interesting that Mr. Kostick responded to it, because that’s exactly what we hoped would happen.”

The special edition was filled with stories about Manitoulin’s cultural relationships and other unique Island features.

Mr. Kostick got his subscription to The Expositor and began to fall in love with Manitoulin.

“That real estate section really caught my eye and I thought ‘what an interesting place’.”

Looking for a change in pace from his downtown Toronto home, Mr. Kostick began to look seriously at the prospect of moving to Manitoulin and so began the journey once a month in search of a place to buy. He eventually found it on McCauley’s Road, just outside of Manitowaning.

During the interview last week, Mr. Kostick was happy to say that it was The Expositor that brought him here, and he remains a subscriber. “It’s an absolutely wonderful newspaper,” he told this writer, but his focus was on the people he’s met since his move 12 years ago.

He spoke of the kindness of Pete Charbonneau at the adult education centre in Wikwemikong, was effusive in his praise of Debbie Robinson at the Assiginack Public Library, couldn’t say enough about Rob Maguire, who helped him find the property, Allan Elliot, who he first met after inadvertently setting a grassfire on his new property, noting that son Dwayne is now the fire chief and “who has an absolutely wonderful heart,” Rick Pegelo, “who makes the Island interesting,” Brian Willoughby, who helped him move things from southern Ontario, Hazel Fox-Recollet, the first First Nations chief he had ever met, Doug Hore and his barbershop, home of the best cut he’s ever had, the great service at Carol’s and Earl’s Restaurant, Kenjgewin Teg instructor Deb Tate, the Ham family, who helped his with his Honda motorcycle, and Colleen Castleton, “over at the Service Ontario office.” He also commended Jeanette Corbiere Lavell for advancing the cause of First Nations women and her son Nimki Lavell, a man he’s glad to call his friend. “Then there’s Greg Young, the Manitoulin Minstrel, an interesting character and Will Beck at the landfill, a great guy, and I’m just scratching the surface after 13 years here.”

“I went through here in about ’76 or ’77 and I remember seeing the oil rig set up on the other side of the road (near Manitowaning on Highway 6 when the late Bill Klenk was re-drilling all oil well sites),” Mr. Kostick recalled. “Who would have ever thought I would be back here and owning the piece of property on the other side of the road.”

“It’s fabulous here, I just marvel—look at the crop of dandelions I’ve got,” he added, waving his arm over his lawn, smiling. “We have so much to share, and everyone is interesting. I doubt people are as interesting in Wiarton,” he joked. “You never know what you’ll see on Manitoulin, and we’re so fortunate to have an excellent paper that you guys produce, and that’s not an empty sentiment.”

“I’m healthy, not wealthy, but I’m happy.”