By Chadd Cawson

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

After a summer without one, the Columbia Valley Pioneer is pleased to introduce Joanne McQuarrie as our new editor and newest member to the team. McQuarrie has spent most of her life in northern Alberta and comes to us from Jasper where she has lived off and on for the last six years while working both in retail as well as the Fitzhugh newspaper.  McQuarrie studied journalism at Grant MacEwan Community College two-year program in Edmonton has worked in the field of Journalism off and on for the last 30 years. Once on the path to become a dental hygienist, McQuarrie had a change of mind to follow her heart.

“I’ve always loved writing. I’ve been a writer since I was a kid,” said McQuarrie. “I remember a career counsellor in Edmonton told me to do what your heart tells you. So, I went into journalism.”

McQuarrie enjoys her spare time hiking and collecting rocks and fossils. Her love for photography not only goes hand-in-hand with her career in journalism but McQuarrie owns a company where she has used her talents to shoot wedding photos and sell scenic creative works, including northern lights.  

What really lights up McQuarrie more than anything is her passion for public speaking and she’s been involved with Toastmasters for the last 20 years.

“When I moved to Jasper, I began teaching public speaking at their career centre, and did so for three years. I followed the Toastmasters format but tailored it to my own needs and the needs of those who took the classes,” said McQuarrie. “Public speaking is awesome;  it’s great to see people get confidence in themselves. It’s all about what you think about yourself, it’s a lot of fun, and I always tend to lean towards the comedic side of things. It’s a great way to express oneself and I’ve had success on doing presentations on the power of humour.” Drawing and painting are McQuarrie’s longtime interests too.

What makes McQuarrie smile most is her love and the relationship she has with her family.

“My daughters and son-in-law and other family members are the most important thing in my life,” said McQuarrie. “My mom was always my biggest cheerleader and was great in nurturing my skills in both writing and public speaking. When I was in Toastmasters and was preparing to do a speech, I would phone my mom and read it to her, and she would always give me feedback. And my dad – we went wood chopping many times. My granny was a down-to-earth, hilarious woman!”

McQuarrie is happy to be in B.C.; she was born in Merritt. She’s pleased to join her new family at the Pioneer and welcomes the challenges that it will bring.

“It’s good to learn lots of new things – which I will be doing here, and I am already really feeling very supported by my coworkers at the office,” said McQuarrie. “I’ve always had a special something in my heart for B.C. My mom was from B.C., my family loved it here – especially the mountains. I just love it here.”

McQuarrie has already been feeling the love and welcomes since she began settling in last week. She looks forward to meeting folks.

“You get what you give,” she said. “The common thread throughout this job is that if you show people respect and understanding, then a sense of trust is developed. That’s the beautiful thing about this and anything else in life,” said McQuarrie. “I’ve had great feedback about the accuracy and flow of my articles, that they’re easy to read, and this has always been my goal. It’s all about people.

Like many in the area, McQuarrie is searching for accommodation. Any leads will be greatly appreciated; feel free to leave a message at The Pioneer office.