Award-winning Webster journalist Don Descoteau retires after 31 years at Black Press

David Black and Don Descoteau during an interview at David’s home in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Don Descoteau celebrates his retirement with a ball game, courtesy of Black Press Media, among gifts given by band editor Michelle Cabana (Don Denton/Black Press Media)Don Descoteau celebrates his retirement with a ball game, courtesy of Black Press Media, among gifts given by band editor Michelle Cabana (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Next, Black Press staffers Don Descoteau, left, Dan Palmer and Travis Paterson don shirts for a day's work.  (Black Press Media file photo)Next, Black Press staffers Don Descoteau, left, Dan Palmer and Travis Paterson don shirts for a day’s work. (Black Press Media file photo)
Don Descoteau chats with Chris Wakelin, a former sportswriter for the Nanaimo Bulletin.  (Black Press Media file photo)Don Descoteau chats with Chris Wakelin, a former sportswriter for the Nanaimo Bulletin. (Black Press Media file photo)

Black Press Media marks the end of an era as a 31-year-old local journalist retires.

Don Descoteau spent a decade in various forms of sales before turning to ink as a sportswriter for the Williams Lake Tribune in November 1991.

For a guy who grew up in the south of the island, it was a foray into many new experiences.

He encountered firsts such as rodeo coverage, wildlife, and, in his words, “real winter.”

Landing in the central Cariboo in November also meant the advent of snowmobile racing and cross-country skiing. Summer sports included stories that saw him side-by-side with one of the most notorious bulls on the pro circuit.

“All of this was new for a city kid,” recalls Descoteau.

The sport also helped him return to his island roots, moving to the Campbell River Mirror in 1995.

When a job opened up in Victoria, he rushed home – leaving the sporting pace behind – to broaden his horizons. Descoteau admits to having a little apprehension, council meetings and weekly briefings with the police department were new. Again, he forged relationships and still counts people like MLA Rob Fleming and former MLA Denise Savoie among his friends.

He learned from longtime journalists such as Keith Norbury (retired) and Kevin Laird, currently editor of Sooke News Mirror.

Looking beyond Descoteau’s declared love for the Boston Bruins and Red Sox and focusing on his passion for journalism, Laird moved Descoteau to assistant editor of Victoria News in 2007.

“I found him to be very enthusiastic and hardworking. He spent his time doing the job well – even if it meant staying late to do it. He was always eager to improve,” Laird said. “Don was passionate about journalism and was a great guy to work with. He made the people around him better, and they became better journalists and people because of it.

Readers across the region will know his signature, as Descoteau served as editor of Goldstream Gazette, Oak Bay News, Victoria News, Peninsula News Review and Monday Magazine. He has written some impressive branded content and recently returned to the Victoria News Center as a pager and then editor.

“Whenever we needed Don, he always stepped up,” said group editor Michelle Cabana.

Among dozens of accolades over the decades, winning a Webster stands out. Descoteau was a member of the award-winning project that looked at the Capital Regional District’s wastewater treatment challenges. Designed to bring newcomers into the conversation, the spring 2016 project won the coveted Jack Webster Award.

As the Groove Diggers bassist and longtime field hockey player plans to add more golf to his repertoire and naturally spend time with his family, the signing spotted across the province for three decades is likely to reappear.

He is already on a freelance assignment for Monday Magazine.

“I expect to find myself in town having coffee with one or more of my many acquaintances,” Descoteau said. “I like doing that too.”


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