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Dirk van Loon

Feb. 26, 2018
Atlantic Journalism Awards
Dear AJA Hall of Fame Committee,
I am writing to nominate Dirk van Loon for induction into the Atlantic Journalism Hall of
Fame. Dirk is the founder, and now the emeritus publisher, of Rural Delivery, an
independent magazine that recently marked 41 years of continuous publication in Nova Scotia.
Dirk was born in 1938 in New York City, attended Cornell University, and upon
graduating in 1961 signed up with the first group of Peace Corps volunteers, assigned to Colombia. Upon returning, he cut his teeth in journalism at the News-Press in St. Joseph, Missouri. Later he worked at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, CO. He moved permanently to Nova Scotia in 1969, and made his home in Sandy Bay, Queens County, where he lives to this day.
In 1976 Dirk launched Rural Delivery. It was created “from scratch,” and in the early years Dirk was known to travel the province on his motorcycle as he chased stories and reached out to potential advertisers.
Rural Delivery appears 10 times a year, and has a current print run of 9,000 copies,distributed primarily in the Atlantic provinces. Although Dirk has recently stepped back from day-to-day editorial duties, he continues to write the popular “Pot Luck” editorial in every issue, as well as occasional stories on a range of topics. And as always, he contributes his whimsical drawings to every issue, maintaining the visual style and the sense of fun that longtime readers recognize.
Merely surviving for so long as a subscription-based print magazine would be
remarkable, but Rural Delivery is also exceptional because it fills a niche in this region, addressing the concerns and interests of Atlantic Canadians living in rural communities.
The “Letters to RD” section always provides a glimpse of the loyal and engaged
readership, including many who count themselves second-generation subscribers.
Dirk likes to say that RD was “retro” before “retro” was cool; it bears some resemblance to the family-oriented farm journals that were popular in the middle decades of the 20thcentury. While the magazine focuses on agriculture, gardening, and homesteading, it has frequently delved into other subject matter, notably where Dirk judged there was a story to tell that would not likely be told by the dominant media outlets. Amid practical articles, features, and personal essays, readers will find the kind of serious, long-form investigative pieces that are a rarity in today’s media landscape. In recent years, two such articles from Rural Delivery have been AJA Gold winners. It is an eclectic publication,
unlike any other in tone and style.
Rural Delivery has published the work of hundreds of freelancers, including many just getting a start in journalism, as well as experienced writers who welcome the opportunity to stretch their legs a bit. Dirk’s support for these writers – his encouragement and constructive criticism – and his commitment to the fundamental principles of journalism, represent a large part of his contribution.
It should also be noted that Rural Delivery spawned the company called DvL Publishing, which launched three specialty magazines – Atlantic Forestry Review, Atlantic Beef & Sheep, and Atlantic Horse & Pony – each with its own devoted readership. The company, still independently owned and operated, has a handful of full-time employees at its office in Liverpool. Dirk still drops in regularly, to put in some time behind the desk, and tochat with staff. He loves the business. He is a “lifer” in the best sense, utterly devoted tothe journalist’s trade. I believe he is worthy of recognition.

Sincerely,
David Lindsay

February 26, 2018
To the Atlantic Journalism Awards judging panel,

Re: The Atlantic Journalism Awards / Atlantic Journalism Hall of Fame

Nominee: Dirk van Loon / Journalism Builder


Letter of support from Rachel Brighton

Through his publishing company (DvL Publishing Inc.) and its various magazine titles, Dirk van
Loon has created a market for rural stories and a forum for rural writers. Over the course of
four decades, Dirk and his team have built up a demanding, trusting and loyal readership for a
wide range of predominantly rural-based stories. As a freelance journalist covering forestry,
energy, agriculture and food processing, I have written for several of these magazines. It has
always been a privilege to work with an editor who brings technical knowledge and editorial
rigour to the role. In this regard, Dirk should be credited for showing deep respect not only for
rural industries, communities and issues, but for the written word and the people who bring it
to print.
Remarkably, Dirk has maintained an excellent staff of editors and administrators who have kept
the firm going in a relatively small rural town in Nova Scotia, while reaching readers across the
region and across the country. He and his editors have nurtured a distinct culture of writing
that is plain and colourful, precise and engaging. The work published across the DvL titles is
expert, informative, nuanced and trustworthy. While that large body of work speaks for itself,
inducting Dirk van Loon into the Atlantic Journalism Hall of Fame would do more than affirm his
contribution to journalism; it would encourage journalists to continue to believe, against the
odds, that rural reporting and writing is possible and can pay.
I hope you will consider Dirk for the Atlantic Journalism Hall of Fame.
Sincerely,
Rachel Brighton

To: AJA Hall of Fame Committee
I understand that Dirk van Loon is being nominated to the Atlantic Journalism Hall of
Fame. He is certainly a worthy candidate, and I would like to pass along my support.
I have known Dirk van Loon since shortly after he arrived in Nova Scotia. My time was
with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, where I worked closely with farmers
and their families.
This new magazine was well received, especially by farm families, because it not only
gave a voice to farmers but also provided valuable information about the industry. It
was difficult to go into any farm home in Atlantic Canada and not find a Rural Delivery
magazine. The fact that it has been going for this many years tells us how popular it is.
Rural Delivery reaches more than just the farmer. It has something for the spouse and
children, and for non-farm people. I know, for example, the exchange of recipes is an
active part of each issue of Rural Delivery.
I personally am involved in the Farm Equipment Museum here in Truro. You would be
surprised how many unusual pieces of farm equipment are identified, just by having
their pictures in Rural Delivery, i.e. page 17 in the January-February issue.

Best regards.

R. J. (Dick) Huggard
(retired) Deputy Minister
N.S. Dept. Agriculture & Marketing


Feb. 23, 2018
TO THE AJA HALL OF FAME COMMITTEE
As a longtime Nfld-born magazine freelancer (some 200 articles in regional and national mags since 1961) and sometime book author (8 trade books since 1986), I'm delighted to lend my voice, on Dirk van Loon's
behalf, to your good cause.
After half a lifetime in these Maritimes, I can think of no one who has done more to honour and support the life rural hereabouts. And not just via journalism. His Harrison Lewis Centre does much the same via
workshops.
As a writer, let me pull from my cabinet a thick file labeledAFR/Published. Near the bottom is a carbon copy of my letter of May 11, 1998, proposing a tree series for Atlantic Forestry Review, his new forestry magazine (hatched with NB's George Fullerton, I believe). It says in part:

Dear Dirk; How about an illustrated regular column onthe silvics of Maritime forest trees (see sample outlines)...? There could also be snippets of offbeat history...and human interest anecdotes....
Back came, within a week, a postcard which opened with:

Gary: Bizzarrre [sic] – Was just thinking about...a series ontree species doing much as you suggest. How about 500-700- words? And wouldn't that make an excellent book?
Dirk
How's that for encouragement? And from that year until 2015, when we ran out of tree species, he published 3 or 4 profiles a year with my drawings. (Dirk is himself a gifted illustrator, but he let me shine.) Even when my tree pieces arrived twice as long as he'd intended, he ran 'em full-length anyway. And the book he envisioned did come out (My Life with Trees, Gaspereau Press, 2015). It won the Evelyn Richardson Non- Fiction Award at the 2016 East Coast Literary Awards. (I had him write the foreword.)
I could quote from a much older file (but I won't), labeled Rural Delivery, his flagship publication. I'll just open a file from 1977, where he accepts one of my earliest pieces, on ice-fishing for smelt (or was it on making alder whistles?).
Back then, local mills to grind our literary grist were rare.Harrowsmith was too Ontario, too glossy. Canadian Living and OutdoorCanada took some of mine, but we didn't click. Canadian Geographic was great – $1.00 a word! – but very choosy. Fortunately we had Fredericton's old Atlantic Advocate. Though more mainstream, in 1961 they carried my very first illustrated essay, and dozens more until they folded in the late 1980s. After that, but for RD, I and many other freelancers likely would've quit. True, we had AtlanticInsight for a time, and still have Saltscapes – both too touristy for my taste.
Taste, authentic country taste, best describes DvL's journalism. Real respect for rural values. Real concern for rural issues. A real land ethic – and, lately, more attention to ocean issues like fish die-offs. Those concepts, plus conscientious journalism, come closest to saying what many feel about this man's contribution. Probably subscribers toHorse & Pony and his other trade periodicals feel the same way – feel as
if they're being listened to, as if he's trying his best to tune in, sound out the authentic voice of our region – which is, after all, Canada's oldest. He even sells our books!
All this from a Vermonter. America's loss, our gain. That's surely something to celebrate! An AJA win for Dirk would warm many hearts here, including his.
Thanks for your time, and keep up the good work.

Gary L. Saunders
Clifton, N.S.