Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Passionate advocate of local newspapers can catch up on her reading

The Courier's Barb Foot retires from advertising sales after 28 years

If you want to know how long Barb Foot has been in the newspaper business, here’s a clue.

When she started in the classified department at the North Shore News, the seven-person department was so busy that it needed night and weekend shifts.

“It was a happening place,” she says of the days before Craigslist and Kijiji even existed. “I loved it.”

But her 28-year newspaper career — from which she retired on June 30 — had actually started many years earlier. She was 12 when her mother married a man who owned a printing press and, as a sideline, a newspaper called the Ajax (ON) Guardian. He gave his stepdaughter her first job stuffing envelopes and mailboxes.

“Just shoot me if I ever work at a newspaper,” she told her friends.

An avid skier, newspapers were not on her mind when she moved to the North Shore in 1984 and became the food and beverage manager for the Cypress Ski Area. (She smiles in a not-for-publication way when she says, “It was fun.”)

In 1989, she made her stepfather smile when she joined the North Shore News’ classified department. Two years later Foot was promoted to the regional classified manager for many of the News’ sister papers: Richmond News, Real Estate Weekly, Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Coquitlam Now. Her wandering days came to an end when she moved to the Courier in 1997 to become its classified manager.

By 2001, the impact of free online platforms such as Craigslist, which was founded in 1995, was being felt. She made the switch to Courier display ad sales in 2003.

Barb Foot business card
Barb Foot started at the Courier in 1997.

“I love working with local companies,” she says of her job. Some of her favourite clients includes Stong’s — “Stong’s is very dear to me. It has a woman running a multi-generational business in a very competitive industry” — and retirement residences. In later years, she was in charge of the Courier’s seniors sections and publications and, last year, came up with the idea of the Courier’s inaugural Lifetime Senior Volunteer of the Year award.

“Seniors are vital to the live of the community,” she says, noting that the awards event attracted 500 people.

Local newspapers are equally essential. “Newspapers speak about your community," she says. "The stories are well researched and trustworthy. We all have to care about what’s going on in our neighbourhood.”

A devotee of the print version, Foot says that what she loves about holding a newspaper in her hands is that she’s never sure what’s going to catch her attention as she turns the pages. On the web we click on stories that appeal to us; a newspaper can make you interested in stories you never knew you’d want to read.

Barb Foot Sandra Thomas
Barb Foot and special sections editor Sandra Thomas collaborated on the Courier's special sections for seniors, including Lifetime. - Martha Perkins

As every manager, publisher, editor, reporter and graphic designer who has worked with Foot knows, she can be very vocal about what makes a good newspaper, holding everyone to a high standard. “Her feedback is always honest,” says the Courier’s director of marketing, Michelle Bhatti. “She stands up for what she believes in and she wants to make things better.”

Bhatti admires the passion that Foot brought to her job each day, ending her 28-year career at the top of her game. “She has such a strong belief in newspapers and what we provide. She’s very much an advocate for what we do and for her customers. She has really spent a lot of time to understand the seniors community and invest in it. It’s more than just a job to her.”

Foot isn’t entirely leaving the newspaper world. When she first started out at the North Shore News, the paper’s general manager was Doug Foot. Simply by chance, they often met each other on the ski slopes, becoming really good friends. Relationships between coworkers was taboo, however. In an office environment where even the smallest bits of news travel quickly, it’s a testament to their skills at secrecy that no one knew they’d become a couple until they announced their marriage 22 years ago.

Today, Doug Foot is vice-president of finance for Glacier Media’s newspapers in the Lower Mainland. He’ll be heading off to work at the Courier office every morning while his wife cheerfully visits their grandson, works in the garden, volunteers with local community groups, joins her running groups and sits down, finally, to read all the newspapers she’s got stacked up at home.

“Retirement will be a good way for me not to have a newspaper hoarding problem,” she says.