The Review has won two awards and an honorable mention from the Ontario Community Newspapers Association’s (OCNA) 2021 Better Newspapers Competition (BNC), including second place in the OCNA’s General Excellence category.

The Review was awarded second place in the 2021 BNC General Excellence Award Class 2 & 3, for newspapers with circulation between 2,000 and 6,499 copies. First place in the category went to the Niagara This Week, Niagara-On-The-Lake Advance. The Eganville Leader finished in third place.

The award measures newspapers in Ontario on overall news coverage, features, photography, layout and design and quality of writing. Judges in the contest were impressed with The Review‘s overall layout, photography and coverage of local news.

“The Vankleek Hill Review is simply an impressive all-around publication,” wrote the judges. “Clean, uncluttered and modern, with great community focus and quality content, it competed in every aspect of the judging criteria, but was edged out by a mere point.”

The judges also wrote they would be hard-pressed to recommend any major improvements to the paper, but that “a number of slight tweaks could have put it over the top”.

Review Columnist Mike Gasher also took home the award for second place in the category of Humour Columnist of the Year. Haliburton County Echo columnist Steve Galea was awarded first place and James Culic of Niagara This Week, Niagara-On-The-Lake Advance was third.

Review Columnist Mike Gasher was named as the second-place winner for Humour Columnist of the Year in the OCNA’s Better Newspapers Competition.

“Well-written columns that make one smile – and think,” wrote the judges of Gasher’s work. “They have a natural flow to them, an ease that comes from Mike’s experience.”

Review Publisher Louise Sproule received an Honorable Mention in the Heritage category of the General Excellence Awards for her feature on the history of the Vankleek Hill murals.

“Her story about a local mural project has an unexpected twist at the end that explores the idea of leaving history in the past,” wrote the judges.

The winners in each category were announced during a virtual presentation in Toronto on Friday, April 29.

Judges also noted the difficulties faced by newspapers over the past several years and said entries in the contest showed that small communities in the province are still being well served by their local publications.

“For some time, those of us in the community newspaper business have faced a lot of challenges and having to do more with less has only been exacerbated by the past two years of the pandemic,” the judges wrote. “The entries in the Class 2 & 3 category showed that despite the challenges, small markets in Ontario are being well served.”