It is with great sadness that we report Doug Harkness, the Dean of Maritime harness racing, passed away on
May 28, 2010 at the age of 71.
Harkness was born and raised in Amherst, Nova Scotia and always remembered having a passion for journalism. As a teenager, he served as the night editor for the Amherst Daily News and at the age of 18 relocated to Moncton to join the staff at the Moncton Times. After spending time in Springhill, N.S. and then trying a larger centre in Montreal, Harkness came back to Halifax to work for CBC. It was here that Harkness was bit by the racing bug.
"I used to be [at the barns] five or six days a week helping out. Of course all the guys knew who I was from the television and they kept asking why we didn't have anything in the Maritimes to cover harness racing," said Harkness in 2003 Trot interview. " I thought about it for a while, and sort of let it go.
"This job came up with the Amherst News, back where I started. I realized that we had a press capability. We had a nice press and only a small daily and a small weekly paper that we were publishing. So, I approached Earl Gouchie (President of Cumberland Publishing) and said, 'Why don't we try to run a Maritime harness racing newspaper?' "He said that I could try it if I wanted and see if I could get some support. As long as it wasn't going to lose any money he said we could try it. So, we launched it."
For nearly four decades, Harkness was the heart of Atlantic Post Calls, providing Eastern Canada with racing news, features, and his trademark op-ed pieces.
"People either love me or they hate me, but that's just something you have to live with in this business," said Harkness. "I think it's just a throw back to journalism. I've had run-ins with track operators and horsemen. But, in the end, I think they know that I mean well."
After selling APC, Harkness stayed on as the editor. In 1996 he became the first Canadian journalist to win the President's Award from the United States' Harness Writer's Association and in 2003 he was awarded the prestigious Glen Kennedy Memorial Award for his contributions to Maritime breeding.
"I'm just lucky I found something that I love to do. Being a journalist is what I love and the racing game is something that I've grown to love. I'll say I'm pretty lucky to have had the run I've had with Post Calls. If you were going to compare it to sports, I've been a free agent many times and I finally found somewhere I could stand my coach."
Doug's commitment and love for harness racing in the Maritimes will be his indelible legacy.
"If there's one thing that I would want to be known for, it's that I always try to do what's best for the industry. There are times that I am disappointed with it, but I'm too much a part of it."
Doug is survived by his two brothers Bob and Eugene, and his wife Donna-Jo and children Todd and Heather. Arrangement details are forthcoming.
Please join Standardbred Canada in offering sincere condolences to the family and friends of Doug Harkness.
I'VE LOST A GREAT FRIEND. I
I'VE LOST A GREAT FRIEND. I ONLY WISH I COULD TELL SOME OF THE STORYS OF OUR TRIPS! A REAL "ONE OF A KIND" I DOUBT IF WE WILL EVER SEE HIS LIKES IN OUR LIFETIMES. DONNA-JO; GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
I'm still in shock over
I'm still in shock over Doug's passing. You were truly one of the good guys in Atlantic Harness Racing. Always up for a chat about racing, news, and who to torture next. Then giving me a chance writing for the Post Calls that has turned into bigger things. We may not of always agreed on everything but I could never doubt your commitment. You'll be missed this racing season and every one to come after - RIP buddy.
Harness racing has lost a
Harness racing has lost a great friend and ardent supporter. Doug encouraged me to write a column in the early days of Post Calls and made it fun. We butted heads on editing but always came away smiling. His publication was a work of passion and promoted Atlantic racing at every level. He will definitely be missed at the monthly Nova Scotia Harness Racing Advisory Committee meetings. His unique humour and biting wit always kept proceedings lively and inspired. Atlantic Tracks will miss Harko this summer in the winners circle with camera in hand and a story forming in his mind. Condolences and prayers to the Harkness family as they struggle with his passing.
Harko, you were the best.
Harko, you were the best. Nobody could match your level of excellence, even in your final days you were still king around here. You were a fighter; working through the hard days because you knew the celebration on the good days was well worth the effort.
Harness Racing will miss you deeply Doug, and so will I. As a photographer, you inspired me. As a person, you inspired us all.
Rest in peace Harkness and the best to your family