Don Jaque


Silver Quill recipients are a husband and wife team from Ft. Smith, Northwest Territories. Sandra and Don Jaque co-publish the Slave River Journal.


After receiving her BA at the University of Alberta, Sandra returned to her home town of Ft. Smith with her new husband Don Jaque in 1973. Don had already started his writing career writing term papers for desperate students at the U of A for $20 apiece.


They jumped into the newspaper business and started the Fort Smith News and then bought the Slave River Journal in 1973.


Sandra’s responsibilities and contributions were always in the production and administration areas of the business. Her keen eye for design, her administrative skills and her sense of community make a productive combination. She has been the cornerstone of the Slave River Journal for 30 years and expanded the visual side of newspaper production to start Cascade Graphics 27 years ago as a sideline to the newspaper. In her three decades of work in communications and graphics she has met many newspaper deadline nights – approximately 1400 if one were to count.


The business was a family one with all three Jaque children employed at some time in various capacities from paper sales, to janitorial work, to darkroom processing to newspaper administration, production and graphic arts. They learned many useful skills as they matured. Now grown up, they can still be counted on for technical expertise and down-home common sense advice. But so far they have declined all offers to assume the business – they say their parents work "too hard"!


Over the years many talented people have been recruited to Fort Smith as journalists and graphic artists. They have been trained and nurtured by Jaque and many have stayed and gone on in other roles to become valuable contributors to community life. This in itself is noteworthy, as such talented individuals make a big difference in a small town.


Don has been a dark room tech, reporter, editor and ad sales rep at different times, in addition to being publisher and business manager of his company.  Newspaper people seem to like to juggle as many balls as possible and Don is no exception. A few years after they got the newspaper going they started a graphics company, then a stationery store, then a computer store, then became an Internet service provider, and then opened another computer store in another town. Innovation was always a part of their ventures. The Slave River Journal was one of the first weeklies in western Canada to run an online version.


Journalism has always been Don’s first love. And guess what he is doing today? He is back to being editor and reporter and is out on the front lines taking pictures and writing stories. He is also Chamber of Commerce president and works on a number of other community and sport agencies. And he still runs those other businesses.


Don describes journalists as "watchers." He says; "We watch what goes on and see what people do and we tell those stories. If we are good, our stories are accurate and interesting. If we care, they make a difference."


Don’s goal has always been to write good stories that make a difference.


Top of Page