It has been two-years since Cochrane lost legendary leader and pillar of the community John “Jack Tennant.”
A well-known and beloved beacon of kindness and innovation, Tennant died at the age of 82 from heart failure on May 20, 2018, surrounded by his friends and family.
Although Jack is no longer with us, the Tennant legacy continues to thrive in Cochrane. He founded the Cochrane Eagle and allowed many “Eagles” to find success under his wing. His name will be memorialized by the new Jack Tennant Bridge that is set to be completed in the fall. An apt tribute to the late, great newspaperman as Tennant was famous for his ability to build connections between communities and cultures.
A retired photojournalist-turned-columnist, publisher and philanthropist, Jack was known for those twinkling pale blue eyes, and always having a story locked and loaded to share.
Known for treasuring his Scotsman heritage, Jack was a proud supporter and enjoyer of the music of the Cochrane Pipe Band. After many years of supporting the band, Jack was awarded the honourary position of Clan Chieftain. He held that position until his passing.
Often times he was the go-to emcee for Cochrane events – a natural in the public eye.
Jack was a giant of the newspaper business and had a career that spanned 60 years.
He came from humble beginnings as a farm kid in Brandon, Man. He cut his teeth as a photographer’s apprentice in 1955 at the Brandon Sun.
Three years later, Jack spent a stint in television and radio at CKX-TV in Brandon, finding his way back into newspapers at the Kamloops Sentinel in Kamloops, B.C.
Outside of his career, Jack was a dedicated family man and the proud father of two boys, Alan and Ian.
Ian was an avid junior hockey player, so Jack spent several years working from behind the bench – as general manager for the WHL's Kamloops Chiefs junior team (now the Seattle Thunderbirds) and eventually called up to the Calgary Centennials (now the Tri-City Americans), which triggered the move from British Columbia to Alberta.
By the late 1970s, the call came to throw himself fully into journalism. Jack started as a desker then a city editor for the Calgary Albertan, which became the Calgary Sun in 1980.
He put together a colourful 17-year career as a notorious columnist who dished it out whenever the call came to do so.
“His legacy is all the people who he helped over the years – and the Eagle. We launched that from nothing,” said Ian. “He’s one of the throwbacks to the journalists who learned by doing.”
Throughout the 1980s, Jack and Brenda – his partner in life and newspapers for 38 years – saw their way through buying, building and selling southern Alberta weekly newspapers, beginning with the Airdrie Echo and Rocky View Times in 1980, followed by the Crossfield Chronicle several years later. In 1984, they started Cochrane This Week which they ran until selling it in 1994.
In life, the only thing it seemed that Jack loved more than rousing those of societal or political importance was to champion the vulnerable by giving a hand up to the fallen or forgotten – His unwavering support of veterans, children and animals and those who suffered from the woes of addiction will forever be a part of his lasting legacy.
Jack’s compassion stretched beyond Cochrane to the neighbouring Stoney Nakoda First Nation. He made it his prerogative to extend, foster and promote relationships between Cochrane and Morley.
“He was always smiling and he was always ready to listen if I had to get something off my chest. I never heard him complain,” said Sykes Powderface, a respected Stoney Nakoda elder and long-time friend of Jack. “He was very much involved in relationship-building. Over the years we’ve lost so much of those relationships with Cochrane and with Cochrane ranchers. Since he came along he got deeply involved with the Stoney people.”
In 2001, the Cochrane Eagle was launched and Ian returned to Canada as a part-owner and editor, working alongside his dad and Brenda.
The late, great Jack Tennant will forever be remembered for his heart of gold, and endless determination which makes his everlasting legacy, boundless. We know you are up there, Jack and you said it best; "The eagle is a warrior and it soars above the crowd so it can look down in an objective way, overseeing everything."
-With files from the Cochrane Eagle