The City of New Westminster is proclaiming Aug. 26 as George Garrett Intrepid Reporter Day.
The proclamation, to be read by Mayor Jonathan Cote at Monday’s council meeting, states that Garrett was the voice of city news for many decades, was known as the intrepid reporter and received numerous awards honouring his work. An honorary constable with the New Westminster Police Department, Garrett is also the founding president of the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society.
Longtime New West resident Chris Sargent contacted city hall about honouring Garrett, who was an award-winning reporter with radio station CKNW prior to his retirement.
“I admire what he has done and the history stamp that he’s made in New Westminster in terms of being the voice of news for CKNW for all those years,” Sargent said. “His life’s work, much of it was with New Westminster reporting. He did a lot of crime stuff. He came to be well known with the New Westminster police, to the point where they made him an honorary constable.”
CKNW recently hosted a daylong event in New Westminster to celebrate its 75th anniversary.
Garrett, who has fond memories of his time in New Westminster, said he’s humbled and honoured with the city’s proclamation. Prior to his retirement in 1999, Garrett worked for CKNW for 43 years starting out in its original studios on Columbia Street and later working out of its space at McBride Plaza.
Along with several mayors, Garrett said he also got to know several police chiefs and many police officers.
“I had very good trust with the police. They trusted me,” he said. “The New Westminster Police Association, which is the retired members, made me an honorary constable about five years ago. It was in recognition of our close association.”
During his career with CKNW, Garrett covered many big stories based in New West, including some related to the B.C. Penitentiary. One day he returned to work after being off-duty and learned a situation had been unfolding at the prison, with his boss commenting that “with Garrett’s horseshoe, this should be solved today.”
Garrett gathered with other reporters in a house on the prison property until deciding, "I won’t get much of a story if I stay here." He left, parked his car, hailed a taxi and asked the cab driver to drop him off in front of the Pen.
“I walked up the long set of stairs to the BC Penitentiary. I figured the officials would be curious about who this visitor is coming up the stairs. Sure enough, they were,” he told the Record. “So the warden, Tommy Hall, came out along with the RCMP superintendent Bruce Northrop. Superintendent Northrop said, ‘If I read the demands of the prisoners into the tape recorder, would you put them on CKNW?’ I said, ‘Yes, I would.’ So I did that. Within a few minutes of it being on the air, the prisoners were satisfied their demands were heard and the disturbance ended.”
Earlier this year, Garrett released his memoire, George Garrett: Intrepid Reporter. It’s available at most bookstores and online from Amazon.