Nothing Like a Riendeau — What Makes a Newspaper Humm?

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I grew up in a small town in southern Quebec, pre-Internet, pre-college radio, pre-anything, but I couldn’t wait to get my hands on our local newspaper each week. Local politics, gossip and strange news that was dismissed as an amusing curiosity by my Grandparents. Where else would we find out who got arrested at the local watering-hole or whose lawn-ornaments were missing that week?

Even though large newspapers are losing money, the local weekly small-town newspapers still manage to survive. Why? Because the local population depends on their weekly words and supports them. But who in their right mind starts a newspaper these days and lives to tell? Let me introduce you to the Riendeaus.

Over a decade and a half ago Rob and Kris Riendeau had a dream. A dream of a newspaper that carried arts, entertainment and ideas serving the the communities west of Ottawa. Their newspaper, called theHumm, would feature articles on upcoming events and a comprehensive calendar for the communities of Almonte, Carleton Place, Perth, Westport, Arnprior, Smiths Falls and Lanark Highlands in Ontario, Canada.

Rob, the former techie and his wife, former teacher Kris, banded with three other families and began theHumm with no more than spit and a BIC pen in 1998. Immediate reception to the new paper was not great as no one could seem to figure out why they needed a second newspaper in town. After all, the Almonte Gazette had it all down pat, or did they? With newcomers moving into town they were not only bringing their families but also their artistic talents to blend with the original townsfolk. Suddenly, there was a tsunami of entertainment that needed to be covered as well as Almonte’s burgeoning puppet community.

The first newspaper was born with four local advertisers on a back page that a few still support them to this day. Running a newspaper is difficult and time consuming and their partners soon realized that they could no longer spare time away from their families, so Kris and Rob took over and never looked back.

The first few issues were done by hand and printed on legal sheets and basically used the technology of old newspapers. Eventually, the paper grew big enough to print their newspaper at Performance Printing where other local papers are printed. What’s nice to hear is that the printing company treats them like they are rock stars and in today’s day and age that is to be commended.

Don’t think running a newspaper is easy and forget all those ads you see on the internet. The Riendeaus have to go out and connect with the community and sell ads to business people who want to reach potential customers in the area served by their paper. Mix that with interviews, changing ads, building new ads, and other things that pile up through the month. They also need time to produce the articles, arrange the material on the pages: placing articles, ads, photos, and other items of interest. Bill Gates once said: “The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow” and theHumm is now expanding their website in the near future to reach more readers.

There is no way this paper can be run by two people and that is where Rona comes in. What is “a Rona” you ask? After speaking with her for awhile last week I’m still not sure, but she definitely runs circles around me without batteries. Rona is what I would call my worst nightmare as she is a stickler for details. While I was writing this article my word program crashed and I figured it was Rona sending me telepathic messages to do it over and get it right.

This ‘jack of all trades’ is also responsible for the monthly community calendar. I don’t know if she has 6th sense or she sees dead people, but she is just like Santa. Santa knows when you are sleeping and Rona knows when you have submitted the wrong information to theHumm. Just because Rob has the biggest MAC computer screen in the office– does that make him the “big fish” of theHumm pond?  I left their offices knowing what was really going on, right Rona? Hummmmm….:)

The deadline crunches at the end of each month are brutal and finally it’s off to see the printer. Then Rob and Kris load the finished newspapers into their car and start the two-day, 500 KM journey of delivering them to the retail establishments, restaurants etc. that agree to carry them. There is no doubt in my mind the duo go above and beyond to anyone that supports their paper. Rob is the inner mechanic like The Wizard of Oz that keeps theHumm humming and Kris is the heart and soul of the newspaper. Add a gallon of enthusiasm and you know why the paper has become an important part of the community.

It has been said many times that a streak of rose quartz runs under the small town of Almonte where theHumm headquarters exists. The stone is believed to bring comfort to the aggrieved, alleviate depression, cure migraines and headaches and bring release from addictions. Could it be the rose quartz that makes theHumm so popular? No, the only way for newspapers to meet the competition of radio and television is simply to get out better papers and that is what theHumm does. It gives the public what they want with dedication, talent, and so much love.

                “Respect the deadline!”- Kris Riendeau Hansen


Tilting the Kilt, Vintage Whispers from Carleton Place by Linda Seccaspina is available at Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street, the Carleton Place Beckwith Museum in Carleton Place, Ontario and The Mississippi Valley Textile Mill in Almonte.  available on all Amazon sites (Canada, US, Europe) and Barnes and Noble

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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