Through driving rain and scorching heat, darkened skies and bitter cold, nothing would stop Don Patterson from bringing the news to the community.
Patterson, who would often stop and chat with those he came across along his route, was a familiar face delivering the Saanich News to 50-some-odd homes along Cedar Hill, Doncaster and Weatherby for the past nine years.
“Half the route I knew by first names, the other half, I never saw them. I delivered between 6 and 8 in the morning and a lot of them hadn’t got up yet,” said the 88-year-old who hung up his carrier bag for the final time at the end of August.
Patterson said it became almost a bit of a social event as he stopped to chat with people out waiting for their paper, or shared greetings with those walking or cycling on their way to work.
“I never missed a day. They kept telling me I should have a backup guy for when I got sick or didn’t feel like doing it, but I never needed one,” said Patterson, who also can’t recall ever getting any complaints about his deliveries.
But he did get more than his share of compliments, not to mention cookies, candies and holiday gift cards at Christmastime.
Oct. 1 to 7 is National Newspaper Carrier Appreciation Week to acknowledge the efforts of those like Patterson who work tirelessly to bring the news to their communities.
Patterson was 79 and recovering from surgery when he first picked up his carrier bag in May 2008.
“I had a heart bypass and one of the things they suggested was to walk as much as I could. I started by just walking around the block and then expanded a little farther,” said Patterson, who recalls getting a bulletin in the mailbox that a route had become available.
“I thought maybe I should give that a whirl. So I walked around the route to see if I could accommodate it and I found out it was OK.”
He never looked back, and those living in his Cedar Hill neighbourhood couldn’t have been happier. Many of the residents on his street even threw a party for him on his last day on the job.
“Age was catching up to me, to a certain degree,” Patterson says of his decision to give up his route. “And then with winter coming on, I thought maybe it’s time to throw in the towel, so I did.”