Letter: The Unrepentant June Harrison

Tuesday, June 14 2016

For the most part, the best editors know that it’s their job to think an issue through to the end, take a position, and stick to it, regardless of flak.

This skill comes more readily to some than others. The pithy and perspicuous June Harrison, former editor/producer of the also former Flying Shingle, was a master of the art. 

I’ve often thought that if June had a title, it would be “June the Unrepentant”. 

Long time Gabriolans will have a store of their favourite “Ed Notes” – a mechanism through which June would respond to the criticism and comments of Shingle readers. 

One of my personal favourites was a response to a reader’s exhortation to “WAKE UP”. She “admitted” that she tried to read through his letter to see what he was going on about, but she “just … kept … falling asleep”.

June was a special favourite of Nanaimo newsfolk looking for a quote on either Gabriola issues, or happenings at the school board – on which she was likely the longest running trustee in Nanaimo’s history. 

Due to her quick, dry wit, June could always be counted on to come up with a comment that humourously encapsulated the issue in one or two sentences.

June always said of the Flying Shingle that “the Left must have a voice”. It is my firm belief that Gabriola is the progressive island it is now, thanks in large part to June’s unfailing and unflinching hand at the helm of the little ship Shingle from its inception in 1972 until she passed on its direction in 2008. 

I know newsfolk everywhere will join me in awe of the fact that she kept that boat afloat, usually single-handedly, for 36 years.

I’ve met no one who had an indifferent opinion about June (I, personally, loved her), and the passion was almost always reciprocated. 

She was one of the great characters of this island. Gabriola is diminished by her death. 

In Gratitude,

Chris Bowers