Reporter Ivy Hatch: looking back over 50 years of reporting the news and being paid by the inch

© 2004 Gordon Alexander

Posted 06.08.04

LENNOXVILLE, QC | When I interviewed veteran correspondent Ivy Hatch , who is used to being on the other side of the note pad, I got the feeling that she was interviewing me.

Ivy is 91 and, despite having two min-strokes, her mind is sharp and inquisitive. She remembers well her life and work in Stanstead as a country correspondent for The Newport Daily Express in Vermont, and Quebec's Stanstead Journal, and Sherbrooke Daily Record.

Now retired, Ivy continued to be an active writer-correspondent until four years ago when she gave up driving and moved from Stanstead to Lennoxville.

She now is a resident at the St, Francis Manor and instead of writing, enjoys playing cards, walking, and visiting with her daughter, Betty Humphry of nearby Huntingville. who calls in on her regularly.

Hugh Doherty, a retired former editor for the Sherbrooke Daily Record remembers Ivy.

"In the early 1960s," he writes, "I did a tour of the Record's circulation area to meet some of our country correspondents in the smaller communities. Most, but not all, were housewives recording the social comings and goings that were the rhythm of rural life. Many lived on farms; some had been correspondents for years, and their mothers before them. A visit from the editor of the Record, I discovered, was a major event.

"None of the correspondents I met had ever received such a visit before. One long-time correspondent organized an afternoon tea party in her parlor in my honour. She and her guests plied me with tea and home-made cookies and questions about how a newspaper operated. And as I left, they presented me with a piece of hand-crafted Eastern Townships glazed pottery in the shape of a tortoise.

"Probably the most prolific country correspondent was Ivy Hatch of Stanstead, who covered her town and the entire area around it on the border with Vermont. She didn't just write social notes, but also covered fires, accidents, and other real news events, and did it just as well as our staff reporters."

Ivy recalls, "One night I was called out in the wee hours of the morning to cover an accident near Dufferin Heights. I wrote the story, took a few pictures and wound up being asked to direct traffic."

Ivy did it all, from social events to fast-breaking news situations, as well as local sports which at the time was more than most country correspondents preferred to get involved with. They preferred tea parties and other social events, getting most of their information over the phone from close-knit friends and family without having to leave home.

Ivy Price was born in 1913 and went to school in Tomifobia. Her father was killed in World War I when she was very young and she claims that she has no recollection of him. After high school Ivy enrolled in Stanstead College but never finished feeling the need to get a job.

""I don't even remember what that job was," Ivy said with a laugh. "It must have been a good one."

The job as area correspondent for the Sherbrooke Daily Record was advertised in the record in 1946, and Ivy answered the ad and got the job.

"You'll probably last about three months," said a friend. "Nobody lasts any longer than that."

Ivy was eventually to prove her wrong -- she lasted 53 years longer than most editors, reporters and publishers at the Sherbrooke Daily Record which, since then, has re invented itself several times under various publishers and locations gradually evolving into The Record as it is known today.

Most events Ivy covered for the Sherbrooke Daily Record she shared with the Newport Daily Express since Stanstead is so close to the Express circulation, She also gave a copy to her local weekly, The Stanstead Journal.

"The Express and the Record paid by the column inch for my stories but I only got a free paper from the Stanstead Journal," Ivy said.

Her daughter Betty remembers her mother at the kitchen table with a ruler measuring her stories to be sure the papers got her pay right.

"My arithmetic in school was terrible," said Ivy. "It wasn't easy for me to figure out how much I was getting paid for which story."

Before launching her career as a writer-correspondent, Ivy married George Hatch who worked at Butterfields in Rock Island. She continued her job as correspondent for the three papers in addition to being a wife and mother.

"When Mom was sick I remember trying to get stories from the curling Club," her daughter Betty recalls. "That was hard work."

"I love people," Ivy said. "I guess that's why I loved my job and stayed at it so long."

Ivy got along well with people and the Stanstead people loved her. You could tell it by the way people volunteered information to her. She was considered to be the unofficial "scribe' for Stanstead.

It was about the mid-1960s and Ivy was hitting her stride as the area's most notable wordsmith. Her finger was in practically every pie in town as she wrote up weddings, anniversaries, obituaries, as well as other social events in the area. Some of the associations she covered asked her to sit on the board and she would invariably end up as their secretary, e.g. he Quebec Farmers Association and the Stanstead County Fish and Game Club.

She had a working knowledge of French which she claims she got from various French Canadian boyfriends before she met her husband George.

One of her earlier assignments involved a Chamber of Commerce meeting where she got to really feel the pulse of the Stanstead area. Some of the more senior and experienced representatives of the Sherbrooke Record, like the late sports editor Len O'Donnell helped with her coverage of sporting events. At the Sherbrooke Record , social notes editor Helen Evans helped her develop her particular writing style.

Ivy remembers writing a regular column for the Stanstead College paper. It was an institution from which she never got to graduate yet they valued her writing skills enough to hire her.

She maintained a tight contact with her community as a writer but never had much time to join any of the social events as a participant.

Ivy joined the Beebe Curling Club where she covered curling events yet never curled. And she also joined the Dufferin Heights Country Club yet never played golf - she joining both clubs just to maintain a social contact with active people in the area.

As her involvement and knowledge of the community grew she became involved in writing about the history of various institutions in town.

She never adopted a particular political party and stayed fiercely independent preferring to vote for the man rather than any particular party.

Today, Ivy looks back on a golden career and many friends and associates who were her sources and lifeline to the community. Most of her contemporaries are gone now but there remains younger people who remember growing up as their parents read Ivy Hatch's many columns and stories. Her name is still very familiar among those who have read the Newport Daily Express, The Stanstead Journal and the Sherbrooke Record.

Ivy looks back on her life as she sits in her bright, comfortable apartment in Lennoxville that looks out over the town. She seems like she would like to start writing again.

"My daughter has my old typewriter now," Ivy said. "She knows if she gives it back to me I'll probably start writing again."

Copyright © 2004 Gordon Alexander/Log Cabin Chronicles/06.04