A Newfoundlander by birth, Carolyn Muir Helfenstein began teaching at the age of seventeen in a one-room schoolhouse near King City, Ontario, then two years later attended Toronto Teachers’ College.( Those were strange times that such young graduating high school students were hired to teach in rural schools.) Later she taught in the Toronto area that included the opportunity to initiate a class for children that had been ignored in regular class situations, a rare opportunity, she later realized.
Carol and her husband, Harry, purchased a Bruce County dairy farm in 1963. They worked the land and cared for their high-producing herd of purebred Holsteins. Their three children grew up learning a work ethic that would stand them in good stead as they left home and began their own careers in aviation (commercial and military) and physiotherapy. When opportunities presented themselves—hosting exchange students, breeding and showing Old English Sheepdogs, and then buying a small-town weekly paper—the Helfensteins approached each challenge saying, "Why Not?"
In their twelve years of publishing newspapers, they won many awards in province-wide competitions. Carol served on committees of the board of the Ontario Community Newspaper Association, eventually serving as chair of the board.
"As reporters and feature writers, Harry and I interviewed amazing rural people,” she recalls. “Our papers presented their stories, showing the strength of rural families, their resiliency, and sense of adventure. I hope this book records the same characteristics, not just of our paper, but of the many small-town weeklies that still existed in those years."
Why Not? A Memoir in Black and White
By Carolyn Muir Helfenstein
Published in 2008. Port Elgin ON.
Brucedale Press, Publisher: Anne Judd
Featuring the year-by-year highlights of the12-year experience two ex-farmers had—buying a community newspaper and running it from their farm home. They later moved to a main street office, and along with dedicated employees, won numerous provincial OCNA awards and a national CCNA Award.
Other Media promoting Why Not?
Print - Full page - Daily Newspaper
Owen Sound Sun Time full-page coverage
Andrew Armitage. Dec. 19, 2008 wrote:
"It is a gem, a book that proves labours of love to be well work the effort. Cleverly, even lovingly written. It is filled with sparkling dialogue, photographs, and a sense of place, southern Bruce County. It is a reminder of the value of the press and its ability to inform, entertain and motivate."
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