The Swift Current Museum will preserve the large news archive of the former Southwest TV News that covers events in the region over a period of almost 15 years.
The acquisition of the Southwest TV News archives by the Swift Current Museum in partnership with the Living Sky Casino and Stark & Marsh was announced during a presentation at the museum, Feb. 7.
“It’s a valuable and significant part of our history,” Swift Current Museum Director Lloyd Begley said. “By housing these records in the form of video documents, almost 15 years of news coverage in Swift Current and the southwest has found a home. It will allow all citizens access to the history of Swift Current and the southwest’s recent past.”
This news archive includes over 250,000 video files that are all catalogued into a searchable database. There are 2,985 data DVDs with over 150,000 video files. It also includes networked drives with over 8,000 file folders, which have over 100,000 video files.
The 1,400 episodes of Southwest TV News are part of the archive. The television station’s reporters covered a large variety of events in the region. The archive includes all municipal, provincial and federal elections from 2005.
There are files about major infrastructure projects, including the construction and grand opening of the Cypress Regional Hospital, the construction and grand opening of the Living Sky Casino, stories about the expansion of the Civic Centre and the unveiling of the Innovation Credit Union iPlex, and the construction and grand opening of the All Saints Catholic and École Centennial schools.
Coverage of other major events is part of the archive, for example the two World Women’s Curling championships in Swift Current, the 2014 Swift Current centennial celebrations, and the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games. Stories from around the region in the archive include the 2010 flood in Maple Creek, community concerns over the poor state of Highway 32, and the grand opening of the Crescent Point Wickenheiser Centre in Shaunavon.
Additional projects in the archive include 20 citizen profiles as part of the Five Most Fascinating documentary series, 21 Art Gallery of Swift Current exhibition profiles, and 14 historical documentaries that were created for the Stories of the Great Southwest series.
Southwest TV News reported about events in the region since March 2005. The station’s final broadcast took place on June 28, 2019. It was owned and managed by George Tsougrianis and Carol Andrews. Former employees at the television station include Vassey Kapelos, the current host of Power & Politics on CBC News, and Natalie Kalata, who is now a senior reporter for CBC News and The National.
For Tsougrianis the announcement was a significant, but also emotional moment, because it signified the conclusion of an important period in his career.
“That’s why this was for me exceptionally difficult, because it does represent the finality of the Southwest TV News project,” he said. “Even though we finished in June, we had been talking about this for a couple of years. It’s just one of those things that is the physical manifestation of the end. Now that will be an empty shelf or series of shelves for us. So for me it’s a very physical thing.”
At the same time, he is grateful that this digital record of events and community life will be preserved for future generations.
“I’m a great lover of history and so I see the value of something that we hold onto, because it really does talk about what our future is,” he said.
Tsougrianis and Andrews have created new career paths since the final broadcast of Southwest TV News. Andrews is now the development and communications officer at the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation and Tsougrianis continues to be the storyteller as owner and managing partner of Overtime Studios.
“I’ll probably be 80 years old and have a camera in my hand, and that will be part of what I will continue to do,” he said. “For the short term I’m just interested in trying to figure out what are some other stories that maybe transcend the local audience, and so certainly we’re interested in still doing stories here. It’s things like documentaries and potentially other projects that I’m trying to pursue now, instead of doing the news.”
The total cost of the archives acquisition was $50,000. Living Sky Casino and Stark & Marsh each contributed $5,000 while the Swift Current Museum budgeted $40,000 for the purchase.
“It’s like any part of an archive,” Begley said. “It’s a depository for your past. It’s for generations who are still yet to be part of our community to go back and take a look at, and learn about the significant aspects of their past and of their history.”
Living Sky Casino General Manager Trevor Marion said he was impressed when he realized the extent of this archive, and he felt the casino needs to be part of its preservation.
“The casino likes to give back, wants to give back,” he noted. “If I don’t give back, who else will, and is there a risk that this archive goes away for somebody else to look at. So immediately I said we got to get involved.”
Stark & Marsh CEO Elden Moberg said the company felt it was important to help out the Swift Current Museum with this acquisition.
“I think this is an awesome opportunity as a business organization to be able to do that,” he mentioned. “Sometimes you’re doing things for the present, you’re supporting projects that are on the go today and into the future. This is one that commemorates our past and that’s something a lot of times that I’m not sure we do very much. I think tracking our history is vital and I think it’s extremely important to all of us.”