Catherine Mitchell got her first real job taking direction from an editor named Twaddle. She figured there might be room for her in this business, too.
That brief gig ended when the Freep offered her three times the money to come West.
The ink-stained wretch has been a newspaperwoman for more than half her life. Highlights include being nominated for a National Newspaper Award for editorial writing in 2011, and in 2009, a Michener citation, the Governor General’s award for public service, when she joined an all-female Free Press team at Rideau Hall. It gave her a chance to party with Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, an icon.
Starting at the Winnipeg Free Press in 1985, she covered courts, the legislature, social affairs and, after doing time on city desk, joined the editorial board. Her six kids and long-suffering artist husband think she is suitably put telling other people what to think.
Mitchell’s pre-Freep experience included stints in her hometown of Kirkland Lake, writing high school sports copy for one of Ken Thomson’s first dailies; writing and reading news for one of Ken Thomson’s first radio stations; and working weekends on Parliament Hill for Canadian Press. Some six years after she landed at the Free Press, Ken Thomson sold the paper.
She planned on being in Winnipeg for a year but was enchanted by its architecture and blues bars.
There is no better job in the world than scribbling generally true tales for a newspaper, and Winnipeg and the Free Press are forever part of Mitchell’s blood.
She remains, however, a miner’s daughter at heart and, one day, hopes to find a cabin by a lake in the Canadian Shield to live out her days picking blueberries and chopping wood.