There’s an old cardboard box that’s been shunted around from the top of one file cabinet to another in the North Bay Nugget newsroom. It’s filled with yellowed test prints and contact sheets from the darkroom days, curled and torn remnants of Bud Berry’s 32-year print journalism career.
It’s a black and white window into a different time with fatal fires, car wrecks and run of the mill community events mixed with stately visits by British monarchs.
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“It sure was an interesting job,” Berry said during an interview weeks before his 84th birthday June 25. He had lost his wallet earlier in the month and Berry made a plea on social media for help because it contained a photo of his wife, Elly. She had given it to him when they started to see each other and he had carried it with him everywhere for more than 60 years. Eleanor Berry (nee Edey) passed away Feb. 12, 2019 at 80 years of age. An outpouring of support online warmed his heart, although he didn’t want it to be a “weepy-eyed thing” and, as luck would have it, there ended up being a digital copy available to make a reprint.
‘Bud’ Howard Clyde Berry didn’t grow up dreaming about being a news photographer. His first related job, while still attending Kirkland Lake high school, was in radio and he cut his broadcast teeth in Timmins before transferring to CFCH in North Bay April 1, 1958. A brief stint at CKGN-TV was between.
His first choice was wearing a badge and close second was flying for the military. Unfortunately, at just under five-foot, eight-inches, he was considered too short to be a city cop at the time, he missed his OPP window and his math didn’t cut it for RCAF pilot training.
But Berry didn’t give up. He become an aircraft pilot and joined the OPP as an auxiliary officer for 11 years, taking part in several search and rescues, including the Donald Kelly manhunt in 1975.
“There were some pretty ugly things,” Berry said about covering hard news and doubling as a photographer for police – they didn’t have their own identification units at the time.
“I had a little girl die in my arms at an accident, and that scarred me for quite a while,” he said, noting there was no help available at the time. “You went to the Empire and self-medicated.”
He was also a SCUBA diver, which led too often to recovering drowning victims.
“But the job itself was exciting, it opened up a lot of doors. We did things as a journalist that the average citizen would never get a chance to do.”
Below is an audio clip of Bud Berry talking about his role at the Nugget.
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Writer, photographer and proud father. My mom’s family is from the Soo with its Algoma Highlands, dad hailed from Cobden in the Ottawa Valley and I spent my teen years in Capreol. Summers were at the beach on the Vermillion River and winters at ‘The Rink.’ Born in East York but Toronto never was my thing. Ever since a kid looking out the window on long trips, I imagined living on the highway in a little house with a big yard and trees growing all around me.