The Lake Report has been honoured by the Canadian Community Newspaper Association with 30 national awards for journalism excellence, more than any other publication in the country.
The awards, announced Monday, Nov. 14, are for stories, photos, features and commentary published in 2020 and 2021.
COVID forced postponement of the awards for 2020, so this year judges separately assessed submissions from both years.
All told, The Lake Report won six first-place awards, 12 seconds and 11 third-place honours, competing against news publications from coast to coast.
Editor-in-chief Richard Harley was a winner in 14 categories, including outstanding reporter initiative, best news and feature photos, and for several editorials.
“To be honoured as the most-awarded paper in the province in 2021 and now to be recognized nationally with 29 more awards really is an honour,” said Harley.
“It’s a testament to the work of our small but driven team of hard-working reporters and editors, keen-eyed photographers, fearless columnists, dedicated community contributors and residents who share their stories with us.”
“It also shows our advertisers and people who donate to us that we’re putting their money to good use. They’re such an important part of what we do, for without them, we would not be,” said Harley.
In Niagara, only one other publication was recognized, the Voice of Pelham, which took prizes in seven categories.
The Community Service Award is one of the industry’s most-coveted honours, reflecting publications going above and beyond simply reporting the news.
The Lake Report won first place in 2020 for its 10-week “Shop Local” series profiling NOTL businesses during the pandemic and second place in 2021 for our “Pandemic Heroes” campaign profiling people who made a difference during COVID.
“NOTL: A Guide for Distinguished Explorers,” our twice-annual glossy magazine promoting Niagara-on-the-Lake to visitors, won second place in the Special Section category.
As well, some of the paper’s many community contributors were singled out for accolades.
Writer Jill Troyer earned four national awards for her coverage of Niagara’s food and wine industry and Denise Ascenzo won one award for a historical piece on who really won the War of 1812. And hockey writer Kevan Dowd contributed to an award for sports coverage.
The newspaper was also honoured with awards for coverage of the arts in both years.
For 2020, a third-place arts award was shared by Brittany Carter (for “All about that bass,” a feature about Shaw Festival bass player Ross MacIntyre, and a news story about Shaw bosses Tim Jennings and Tim Carroll donating their salaries back to the festival during COVID) and by Harley for a story on thousands watching a Shaw presentation via livestream during the pandemic.
In 2021, a second-place arts award was earned for a feature on the Rezza Brothers by Evan Saunders, a front-page Tim Taylor story on Jennings and Carroll finding “silver linings” amid the COVID chaos, and stories by Harley on the TD Niagara Jazz Festival reinventing itself online during the pandemic and another about “Tripping the Niagara,” a TVO documentary that looks at the river from the viewpoint of a red-tailed hawk.
Here is the full list of awards received by The Lake Report for 2020:
Best Feature Series: Third, Jill Troyer, “Innovation in Wine Country: Parts 1-4.”
Outstanding Reporter Initiative: Second, Richard Harley, for stories on seasonal workers returning during the pandemic, complaints about racial profiling of workers amid COVID, and the effect of the border closure on farmers.
Best Local Editorial: Third, Richard Harley, “Journalists don’t answer to public relations depts,” a response to the Town of NOTL’s communications department demanding the paper channel all questions through the PR staff rather than directly to elected officials or staff.
Best Historical Story: Second, Denise Ascenzo, “Who really won the War of 1812?”
Best Feature Photo: First, Richard Harley, “New skatepark brings out local kids.”
Best Sports Photo: Second, Richard Harley, “Skatepark a big draw.”
Best Photo Essay: Second, Kevin MacLean, “Closed for COVID,” a front-page montage of pictures of pandemic messages to the community posted on storefront windows in Old Town.
Outstanding Community Service: First, The Lake Report, “Shop Local: Business Spotlight,” a 10-week series of four stories each week promoting NOTL businesses during the pandemic.
Best Coverage of the Arts: Third, Brittany Carter and Richard Harley.
Best Sports Coverage: First, Kevin MacLean and Richard Harley, for three stories by MacLean (on the Niagara North Stars’ season interrupted by COVID, dramatic finale of golf club championship tourney, golf pros running through a snowstorm for a Movember fundraiser) and Harley for a story on Virgil’s new skatepark.
Best Multimedia Feature: Third, Richard Harley, “NOTL’s Choice Awards.”
Best Business Writing: Third, Richard Harley, “A Stroll through Old Town,” an in-depth feature chatting with business operators about the effects of COVID as stores started to reopen.
Best Agricultural Story: Third, Jill Troyer, “Harvest time,” a behind-the-scenes look at the grape harvest, with photos by Don Reynolds.
Here is the full list of awards received by The Lake Report for 2021:
Best Editorial Page: Second, The Lake Report.
Best News Story: Third, Richard Harley, “Firefighters battle blaze into morning,” a detailed account of a massive fire on Townline Road that destroyed numerous businesses.
Best National Editorial: Third, Richard Harley, “Shining a light on atrocities,” about the discovery of suspected children’s graves on former residential school sites.
Best Local Editorial: First, Richard Harley, “Short-term rentals: Part 2 – Too much industry influence,” one in a series of editorials on rentals in NOTL.
Best Historical Story: First, Evan Saunders, “Remembering heroics of Victoria Cross soldier,” a Remembrance Day story about Gary Hatton’s visit every year to the grave of a Victoria Cross recipient at St. Mark’s Cemetery.
Best News Feature Photo: First and third, Richard Harley, for “Santa cycles for palliative care,” (about “Santa” Tim Taylor’s fundraising efforts) and “Canadians escape at NOTL airport,” (about a helicopter service for people wanting to fly over the closed border).
Best Sports Photo: Third, Evan Saunders, “Hot tennis matches on a scorching weekend,” for an action photo of Kendra Osa returning a volley.
Best Photo Essay: Second, Richard Harley and Jill Troyer, “Top chefs’ asparagus tips,” for photo and inside photo essay with feature story and NOTL chefs’ ideas for using asparagus.
Outstanding Community Service: Second, Richard Harley and Kevin MacLean, “Pandemic Heroes: 15-week celebration of town’s heroes,” including a four-page special wraparound section featuring a mosaic cover of the clock tower cenotaph, comprised of hundreds of other photo images taken during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Best Coverage of the Arts: Second, Evan Saunders, Tim Taylor and Richard Harley, for a package of arts-related stories.
Best Sports Coverage: Third, for a package of stories: one by Richard Harley on the Canadian Junior Squash Championship at White Oaks, one by Evan Saunders on teenage dart player Trey House representing Canada, and two by Kevan Dowd about the Niagara Predators Jr. A hockey team.
Best Multimedia Feature: Second, Richard Harley and Nicholas Rothwell, “A shortcut to mushrooms,” for a story and video on foragers.
Best Special Section: Second, The Lake Report, “NOTL: A Guide for Distinguished Explorers,” our 64-page winter 2021 glossy magazine promoting Niagara-on-the-Lake to visitors.
Excellence in Rural Reporting: Third, Richard Harley, “Coyote Dynasty: Hunter says hobby is legal, needed.”
Best Business Writing: Second, Evan Saunders, “Americans have been allowed into Canada for more than a week. Where are they?”
Best Agricultural Story: Third, Jill Troyer, “NOTL wineries say new aid program is a big help,” about provincial grants to help ease the pain of COVID.