Editor and columnist Ryan Uytdewilligen. (Mariana Aramburu/Special to The Star)

Editor and columnist Ryan Uytdewilligen. (Mariana Aramburu/Special to The Star)

Ryan’s Regards: So long, farewell, thanks for the dream come true

Editor and columnist Ryan Uytdewilligen departing newspaper after two-and-a-half years

I’m sorry to say this will be the final installment of my column, Ryan’s Regards.

I started at the Langley Advance Times as a reporter in May of 2019, and was asked on my second day to whip up a column. It’s been an honour and an appreciated outlet to write ever since.

But, after nearly two-and-a-half years, I am leaving the newspaper business to follow my heart on a new, exciting adventure.

I am also a published author who continued to write books – both fiction and non-fiction – and develop projects after the five o’clock whistle sounded at the paper and I went home.

I hit a point this year where I could no longer do both jobs and will be moving to Toronto in the coming months to focus on some exciting new projects.

Truly, I cannot express how fortunate I feel for having grown and changed because of my time as a print journalist.

Langley and Aldergrove seemingly took me in – no questions asked – and accepted me as their newest newsman, even though I was grossly unfamiliar with the community.

Like so many before me, I drifted into this community looking for more affordable housing and… well, truth be told, that was about it.

READ MORE: RYAN’S REGARDS: Langley gets lost in space

I had only heard about Langley because I began to volunteer with an organization near and dear to my heart – 4-H. I’d drive all the way from North Vancouver to come help lead swine projects.

A few months into the new job, a lady in line at the grocery store stopped me because she recognized me from the picture in my column. That made my life.

Another “fan” phoned me to encourage me to run for office. Not going to happen, but I appreciate the sentiment!

The job was not without strife.

Folks on social media made certain I would never live down mixing up the terms “emaciated” and “emancipated” when a moose at the local zoo had to be euthanized last summer. Mistaking “shutter” with “shudder” was a whole other story.

Gang wars and overdoses and house fires and a global pandemic unfortunately threw a bit of a stressful wrench into a career designated to attending and covering the more artistic fare of the community.

The first month I was here, I think there was three plane crashes at the local airport….

But I do have many far more positive memories that outweigh the bad.

I’ll never forget gabbing to the late musicologist Douglas Fraser about his Forrest-Gump-life in the entertainment industry for an entire morning.

Or snapping photos of homes decked out with Christmas lights, which led to interview a couple at one particular Murrayville home. The door magically opened and the two of them waved with bells and candy from their staircase – fully dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Claus while carols played in the background.

Or the fellow who showed up at the office who had biked all the way from Spain and spoke no English whatsoever. He just recognized somehow that this was a newspaper and he wanted to share his story. He made it back home to Spain by the way.

Because of this jobs, I got to attend every festival, visit every tourist attraction, meet a hefty portion of residents, and intimately get to know this special place.

I will miss the brief but always positive conversations that came from snapping photos of folks at events.

There is something special going on here. Langley and Aldergrove, I have concluded, takes all the best and most nostalgic parts of the long-gone Normal-Rockwell way of living and mixes it with progress and a dedication to have a greener and more inclusive future. It is the ideal mix.

Thank you to the hardworking staff at the Langley Advance Times office for making a dream of mine come true.

Honestly and truly, ever since I was a child, I wanted to write for a newspaper and have my own column.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

On to the next dream.

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