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The Orca, 1 year in

One year ago today, we took the plunge.

On October 1st 2018, The Orca took to the waters and started swimming.

On our first day, we launched with a poll breaking down support for LNG projects in BC by party, a guest column from former BC Hydro Chairman of the Board Brad Bennett, and the Orca debut of Jody Vance, discussing the ancient and modern problem of tribalism.

Since then, we’ve published just over 600 more – and that doesn’t include things like our daily news roundup email The Fin, Bob Price’s daily Orca Business Beat podcast, our Election Blog.

I asked our Resident Pod to pick two favourite pieces: one of their own, and one from someone else.


It is a tough choice, but I would have to say that my favourite article was the exploration of the rather hidden and isolated Garry Oak stands found above Yale on the Fraser River, so remote from any others! Our raft expedition that day into the isolated stand is exactly the kind of field explorations I so enjoy, and the kind of story I love to share with the public!

But my choice of favourite Orca piece by another is Mike McDonald’s excellent account of the BC election that changed everything! Before I launched into gold rush studies, my Master’s degree was on BC Politics. There are very few political commentators today that have the depth of knowledge of BC’s political history that Mike McDonald displays, a depth of historical perspective sadly lacking among others, and so McDonald’s contributions in this regard are most welcome indeed!


So many favourites and firsts on The Orca in year one. Things that mark this first spin around the sun for our little Flipper include:

All of the openings of UnSpun Podcast…cut together. (Is that wrong?)

Seriously though, I’m most proud of helping to move policy changes or motions in our city. The “Sewer Column” that I wrote literally spilled out of me, sorry. I was so mad – and then so happy to see it help move the meter toward speeding up the process.

Podcasts that are memorable include the one where George and I debated density; the merits of towers vs gentle density. OMG, we love to butt heads.

My runner up is when the BCPoli Hotstove first mentioned me. I do love making Jordan roll his eyes…or high-five, depending on the topic.


I like Twas the Night Before TransMountain. When it comes to political analysis, I’m a sucker for cheeky parody. Of course, politics feels more farcical by the day, but I digress. (I also liked that this piece made Premier Jason Kenney chuckle.)

Bob Price covers so many stories and angles that I would otherwise never think about - and his piece on a hero pilot fighting wildfires is a perfect example. It’s like Top Gun meets Backdraft meets Kamloops’ best-known radio voice.


Since joining The Orca, I've enjoyed sharing the issues, concerns, and unique characteristics of the B.C. Interior – and in our first year, we've barely scratched the surface.

Wildfires have become an annual threat, hugely impacting our lifestyle and economy. For that reason, one particular article I wrote stands out the most to me. The Right Stuff attempted to put readers in the cockpit of the B.C. Wildfire Service Air Tanker division, and tell the stories of Bird Dog air attack officer Vlad Lamoureux and bomber pilot Anthony Ussher. I tried to explain little-known intricate details of fighting wildfires from the sky. Best of all was a letter from Vlad's parents in Ontario, thanking me for explaining what their son does for a living. Thank you, Vlad and Anthony for your service!

A few years ago, my wife and I went to Europe to visit the grave of my uncle who was killed in the Second World War while liberating the Netherlands. As you might imagine, it was an emotional trip. The Dutch continue to express their appreciation of Canada's sacrifice. This is part of the reason why Jody Vance's "Remembering Remembrance" left a lasting impact. I suspect Jody's reminder that we must never forget the ultimate price paid by Canadian soldiers around the world struck a nerve with nearly all families who have been impacted by international conflicts. Lest we forget, indeed. Thank you, Jody!


My favourite piece of mine is the Port Moody parking piece, because it was a common sense look at a nonsensical practice and affects so many families throughout the summer.

My favourite in general is Jordan Bateman’s leg story. This one really stood out to me because it was a reminder about how quickly something like that can go wrong – and how blessed we are to be able to get up and walk every day.


As for myself, I have two personal favourites – it’s my site, I get two if I want.

First, my attempted recap of the last day of the legislature’s spring session, the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in politics. I called it “Mutiny in the Legislature,” and while not technically accurate (the legislature not being a ship), neither was it hyperbole.

Second, my interview with former Prime Minister Paul Martin on the Kelowna Accord he helped negotiate. Yes, partly because I’ve long been interested in the Accord in a what-if sense. But also because when he called, I was driving. You don’t often get to tell a former prime minister you “can’t talk just now.” (He graciously took my return call later that afternoon.)

As for my favourite piece someone else wrote, again I can’t decide – so again, I won’t. One, Jody Vance’s piece musing the idea of bicycle plates, because of the asteroid-that-killed-the-dinosaurs impact it set off in her mentions. The other is Daniel Marshall’s strange case of the anomalous artifact that fell from the sky, which sounds like a Dan Brown novel, but reads much better and is completely real. It’s probably the Orca piece I’ve read the most number of times.

As we said on day one - we're just getting started. There's so much more great stuff to come.

Maclean Kay is Editor-in-Chief of The Orca