The Manotick Messenger has been named a finalist for three provincial awards by the Ontario Community Newspaper Association.
The OCNA announced the three finalists in more than 40 categories for their annual provincial awards. Material published between Sept. 2021 and Sept. 2022 was eligible for the awards.
A feature story on the connection between the villages of Manotick and Osgoode and famed gangster Al Capone that was written in October, 2021 is a finalist for the best heritage story in the province. The story, written by Jeff Morris, came to fruition after the demolition of the old Manotick Tea Room. The building’s owner, Chris Napior, approached the Messenger with information on some of the findings below the old Tea Room after its destruction. Not only did Capone have ties to Manotick and a secret distillery in the woods near Manotick Station, but J. Edgar Hoover also developed ties to the Village of Osgoode during his travels to catch the famed mobster.
During prohibition in the United States approximately a century ago, several local distilleries produced whiskey that ended up being controlled by Capone’s men. Morris followed the trail of the production of the whiskey by rail to his hometown of Prescott, where it was then shuttled on midnight runs across the St. Lawrence to Ogdensburg. From there, much of the whiskey was shipped by rail to Detroit and Chicago.
The story also took an unusual turn as the old Tea Room was often frequented by world famous drummer Gene Krupa, a relative of longtime Manotick Tea Room owners Tess Krupa. In addition to being the Rat Pack’s drummer and considered the best drummer in the world in the 1940s and 1950s, Krupa developed the standard drum set used by almost all drummers, and privately taught many of the world’s most famous drummers, including Peter Criss of KISS.
The story is up against pieces written by Ashely Kulp of the Carleton Place/Almonte Canadian Gazette and Cory Bilyea of the Wingham Advance Times.
Morris is also a finalist as the top feature writer in the province for the story. Other finalists for the award are Diane Johnston of the New Liskeard Temiskaming Speaker and Don Rickers, Carolyn Mullin and Dave Burket of the Voice of Pelham.
The Messenger is up for one other award. Morris is a finalist for the Ontario Columnist of the Year Award for his From the Other Side column. It marks the 14th time since the column made its debut in 2004 that Morris has been in the top three for either the Columnist or Humour Columnist of the Year award for From the Other Side, which regularly appears on page 6 in the Messenger.
Other finalists for the award Jim Poling of the Minden Times and Laurie Weir of the Perth Courier.
Former Messenger employee Nevil Hunt of Ottawa Community Voice Kanata South, is also a finalist for multiple awards.
He is a finalist for best Environment story, best News Story (with Blair Edwards), and best Feature Photo.
Another Messenger alumni up for awards is Mark Newman of Hamilton Mountain News. He is a finalist for best Arts and Entertainment story, best Feature/News Series, and he earned honourable mention for best Business and Finance Story.
David Shanahan of the North Grenville Times is a finalist for Best Feature/News Series, while Jennifer Westendorp of the Kemptville Advance earned honourable mention in the same category.
Judges for the awards are veteran journalists from around the country. Winners for each category will be announced by the OCNA in the spring in a virtual ceremony.