101 awards and counting!

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

The publishers of High Prairie South Peace News received several awards in Edmonton June 3 marking historic milestones.
Jeff and Mary Burgar received gold quill awards from the Canadian Community Newspapers Association [CCNA] marking 50 years of exemplary service to the industry.
South Peace News also received four Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association [AWNA] awards in the 2021 annual Better Newspapers Competition. South Peace News has now won 101 national and provincial awards in its history. It was perhaps very fitting the gold quills and century mark in awards earned occurred the same evening.
Reporter Richard Froese was also awarded his silver quill award recognizing 25 years of service although he did not attend the ceremony.
South Peace News placed second in Best Overall, Best Front Page, Best Sports Pages and Best Editorial Page in the Class A Under 1,100 Circulation Class. The Fort Macleod Gazette placed first. The award swells the paper’s AWNA awards total to 52 while 49 CCNA awards have also been earned.
The Burgers own both South Peace News and the Slave Lake Lakeside Leader, and the former Falher Smoky River Express. The couple published their first South Peace News as co-publishers [co-owners] on Oct. 25, 1972; however, both worked for South Peace News beforehand marking over 50 years together.
South Peace News has always been a family-owned newspaper. Today, South Peace News is the longest continuously owned family business in the town of High Prairie. Jeff’s father, Reg, and his sister, Bernice Carmichael, started South Peace News in 1962. Jeff worked for the paper for a few years and was named managing editor Sept. 15, 1971. At this time, Mary was also working alongside Jeff and the family.
Today, their daughter, Cori, and son-in-law, Tony Gomes, are also employed by the company. Cori is the graphic artist and bookkeeper, while Tony is the advertising manager. Their granddaughter, Callista, currently does labels and previously updated South Peace News’ Facebook page. Their other grandson, Jared, also did the same duties. Their son, Max, also did labels and today provides Information Technology services when required.
Recipients of gold quills also recognize community service. Jeff has served on High Prairie town council [and on various committees] during two separate terms, as High Prairie Chamber of Commerce president and director, as well as the High Prairie & Area
Chamber of Commerce again as president and director. Jeff was also a charter member the High Prairie Lions Club.
The Burgars also co-owned KBS-TV, and were the first to bring cable TV to town as well as Internet service. They have also volunteered working bingo and casinos for causes they believed in. Most noteworthy is the High Prairie Community Beautification Association, which hosts High Prairie’s biggest winter celebration which includes the Santa Claus Parade.
The Burgars have always encouraged their employees to become involved in the community as they believe in giving back. In addition to Beautification, High Prairie staff have been involved in the High Prairie Dolphins Swim Club, High Prairie Royal Purple Elks, North Peace Hockey League, All Peace Minor Hockey League, High Prairie Men’s Fastball League, school councils, and more too numerous to mention.
The Burgars also broadcast on South Peace News’ website the Santa Claus Parade and High Prairie Elks Rodeo Parade, as well as the Nov. 11 Remembrance Day service each year so shut-ins can watch from the comfort of their homes. Even COVID did not stop the broadcasts.
In their history, Jeff and Mary’s newspapers have won over 125 CCNA and AWNA awards. South Peace News is one of Alberta’s most decorated newspapers.
Froese started his career in February 1990 with the Delta Optimist. He has also worked at the Agassiz-Harrison Observer [B.C.] Observer, 100 Mile House Free Press, and two stints at the Smoky River Express and Stettler Independent, before arriving at South Peace News in January 2014.
Froese was a member of the Falher & Area Chamber of Commerce for six years, including two as president, and the Falher Community Health Council as recording secretary. He has also volunteered or been a member of Smoky River Tourism, McLennan Christian Fellowship, and High Prairie Victory Life Church.
Specifically, Froese was honoured by the Alberta Horseshoe Pitchers Association Best Media Award two years in a row from 2017-18.

Share this post