My 2019 In Review

My 2019 In Review December 31, 2019 · 13 min. readThis article may contain affiliate links.

With the twilight of 2019 upon us, I thought I'd recap a year of ups, downs, achievements, failures and lots and lots of blogging. To start things off, when I entered this year, I had the goal of making "Kenton de Jong Travel" my own personal version of Tourism Regina. After Tourism Regina and I broke ties in 2018, I thought I would take the opportunity to cover more local events and festivals without worrying about stepping on their toes.  

But, going forward into 2020 I think I will dial that back a bit. It wasn't received as well as I had hoped so I'll be looking at what to do different next year. For those who missed them, some of the local events I covered this year included:

I really wanted to cover The Trial of Louis Riel and Mosaic: A Festival of Cultures too, but both of those fell through this year. My trip to Coleman, Alberta also fell through, which is too bad, but hopefully, I can go next year.

Another thing that fell through this year was my attempt to start a vlog. I had a couple of good videos at the beginning of the year, with one being "The Top 10 Dolls from The Island of the Dolls" and the other being "Moose Jaw's Medieval Château". I know that if I want to seriously grow my blog, I need to get into vlogging, so that is my number one goal for 2020.

Moose Jaw's Medieval Château

One of the most popular news stories in Saskatchewan this year was the "Moose Wars" between Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and Trondheim, Norway over who had the world's largest moose statue. Justin Reeves and Greg Moore, two influencers from Regina, were responsible for the world-wide press storm that ultimately helped Mac the Moose reclaim his title. In honour of this, I did an article covering the top 10 ½ tallest statues in Saskatchewan, and then did a sequel a few months later.

(Spoiler: Mac the Moose isn't anywhere close.)

Mac the Moose

I wanted to see more of Saskatchewan in 2019, so this year I made an effort to see the sights. I visited Saskatoon to take in the opening of Escape Manor's new location, Moose Jaw's Medieval Château and abandoned zoo, Rouleau, Battleford, Cochin, Weyburn and Prince Albert National Park, alongside the 2018 Saskatchewanderer Kevin Dunn. I also did my annual interview with the 2019 Saskatchewanderer Zane Buchanan too.

Grey Owl's Cabin

This past year I also reviewed a few different products, such as Access 7's TiVo, Doug O'Neill and Jenn Smith Nelson's "110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan", HBO's award-winning "Chernobyl", Frank Albo's "Astana", Alchemy Prophet's Inim Bala, some authentic Dutch Christmas candy straight from the Netherlands and for the first time ever, an Amazon Christmas shopping list.

110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

I also did a piece about the top 13 churches to see before you die, inspired by the fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, as well as an article breaking down the difference between a Nazi swastika and a Buddhist swastika. (Some people weren't happy with that last one and I was called "uninformed" and "entitled" for writing it. Oh well. It isn't the first time somebody didn't like what I wrote...)

I had a couple of guest pieces on my blog this year too, with one being about Malaga in Spain, and the other being about Toronto.

I was also awarded the 2019 Montreal Top Travel Blog, and I was featured on the Youth Travel Foundation live-stream. I also made several appearances on the gaming channel DYLfairman, and on What Is Up YQR?, a podcast about happenings in Regina. I was also featured on Rearview Mirror, and QCIB on 91.3FM Regina Community Radio. I also think I was on Vincent Murphy's On the Air and Story Emporium too, but I can't remember the date. Either way, I ran into Vince about seven times this summer so I that kind of counts, right?

Outside of the blog, I hosted several lectures about my time in Chernobyl, all held at the Queen City Collective. I did some lectures prior to the HBO series and then I did a few more afterwards so I could pick it apart. Most of the lectures had minimal attendance but my final one had almost two dozen people at it. That was a lot more than I expected, so I really appreciate everybody who came out!

I also did some lectures about the 1918 – 1920 Spanish Influenza Epidemic, on behalf of Defining Moments Canada, a federally funded organization. I was supposed to host them at the Regina Public Library, but somebody got their wires crossed and the TED Talk evicted my exhibit. I ended up doing it at the Queen City Collective instead.

Defining Moments Canada

I was also approached by the Western Development Museum in Moose Jaw to host a lecture about the Spanish Influenza, as part of their "In Remembrance" exhibit on World War I. That was the first time a museum ever reached out to me and I felt like somebody important actually took notice of what I was doing.

Western Development Museum

This leads me to one of the frustrating parts of 2019. The past two years I have been doing tours of the Regina Cemetery on behalf of Heritage Regina. This spring I left the board of Heritage Regina and offered to continue the tours, but they decided to discontinue them instead. After several attempts to restart them, the city shut them down permanently. I am frustrated with their abrupt end, and my next article will be a break down of what happened, and what I have been struggling with all year.

Broken Graves

On the flip side, one of my biggest accomplishments this past year was the conception and completion of "Regina Cemetery Tours – The Game". It's a free, browser-based game that aims to educate the public about the graves within the Regina Cemetery. I started a GoFundMe to raise money for it, and I approached several businesses to see if they would be interested in funding it. After several businesses dropped out, I decided to just funnel my own money into it. I expected to launch the game in June, but it ended up launching in August. I've been making minor updates to it ever since and am currently trying to get it into schools around the city. The RPL "redeemed" themselves in my books by letting me screen my game at the Dunlop Art Gallery. I was also invited to the Regina Anime Fest alongside the Regina Game Developers group because of my game.

Regina Cemetery Tours

This year, you wouldn't believe it by all the other stuff I was doing, but I was also fully employed. I haven't had a full-time job in about two years as I was doing my blog full-time. I work remotely for a company out of Calgary and do most of my blogging in my spare time. After two years of blogging and minimal income, I needed an actual revenue stream. The company I work for is Inbound Interactive, and it's a digital marketing firm.

One of the benefits of working remotely is that I don't have to work from Regina either. I can go work in Idaho or Egypt or Ireland and do my work, and then explore the world. Right now, I'm working from Regina, and co-managing the Queen City Collective, but who knows what 2020 will bring.

A couple of other yearly highlights included attending my cousin Chelsea and Ty's wedding in Kipling (congratulations again!), being invited to the pre-opening of the Tipsy Samurai, doing a contest alongside both Beer Bacon Bands and Ryan Wunsch, teaming up at with the YWCA for The Coldest Night of the Year and being a guest speaker at the Queen City Collective's "Work Outside the Box" (twice, in fact, since I got my days mixed up). Another "highlight" was going on the Banjo Bowl with Piffles Podcast to Winnipeg, although we got crushed that game.

Work Outside the Box

I also want to thank the following companies for supporting my blog this year, and helping it grow! Thank you to the Queen City Collective, Spex By Ryan, FLAT Saskatchewan, Rob Klinger of Edward Jones Financial, Brin Werrett (Royal LePage Regina Realty), and Escape Manor Regina and Saskatoon.

My top ten articles published in 2019 were as follows:

  1. Moose Jaw's Medieval Château (5.2k page views)
  2. Top 10 ½ Tallest Statues in Saskatchewan (4.1k page views)
  3. Exploring Moose Jaw's Abandoned Zoo (3.4k page views)
  4. Visiting The Grave Of Canada's Largest Mass Hanging (3.2k page views)
  5. What HBO Got Wrong About Chernobyl (650 page views)
  6. Dog River After Corner Gas (408 page views)
  7. Top 10 ½ Tallest Statues in Saskatchewan – Second Edition (256 page views)
  8. Journey to Grey Owl's Cabin - Part 1 (248 page views – I am amazed by how low that is! Wow!)
  9. Tastes & Treats at The Food Truck Wars (213 page views)
  10. 5 Awesome Things to do in Malaga (203 page views)

This year my blog also got 138,342 page views, just a couple hundred lower than my 2018 numbers. My social media didn't grow much this year, with the exception of my Instagram which finally cracked 3,700 followers, which is an arbitrary number but one I've been trying to get for over a year now.

I went into this article thinking I hadn't done much this year, but I seem to always get caught up on the negatives. Oh, sure my blog traffic wasn't that high and yes my tours were shut down, but I had a pretty fun year, I made some memories, some new friends, saw some new things and didn't any angry phone-calls from lawyers. I would say, all in all, that's a pretty good year!

What did you accomplish this year? Tell me all about it in the comments below. As always, thank you for following me along on all my travels and for supporting my blog. I'm excited to see where 2020 will take us!

Don't forget to pin it!

My 2019 In Review My 2019 In Review

And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.

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My 2019 In Review

With the twilight of 2019 upon us, I thought I'd recap a year of ups, downs, achievements, failures and lots and lots of blogging. To start things off, when I entered this year, I had the goal of making "Kenton de Jong Travel" my own personal version of Tourism Regina. After Tourism Regina and I broke ties in 2018, I thought I would take the opportunity to cover more local events and festivals without worrying about stepping on their toes.  

But, going forward into 2020 I think I will dial that back a bit. It wasn't received as well as I had hoped so I'll be looking at what to do different next year. For those who missed them, some of the local events I covered this year included:

I really wanted to cover The Trial of Louis Riel and Mosaic: A Festival of Cultures too, but both of those fell through this year. My trip to Coleman, Alberta also fell through, which is too bad, but hopefully, I can go next year.

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Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shut its doors in 1970. A year later, in 1971, it would briefly reopen and house inmates from Holmesburg Prison after a devastating riot. After the prisoners were returned to Holmesburg, Eastern State would sit empty for over two decades. It would rot, decay and collapse. Trees and shrubs would grow into the structure and a clowder of cats would take residence. These hallowed halls would sit empty, the only noise being the chatter of startled birds and the trotter of feline paws.

The following decades would see various discussions of what to do with the building. Eventually, it was decided to preserve it and turn it into a tourist attraction. Although it officially opened for tours in 1994, attendants would have to sign a waiver and wear hardhats before entering until 2008. They had 10,000 visitors the opening year, a number of tourists not seen in the prison since 1858.

From 1829 to 1970, Eastern State Penitentiary underwent a variety of changes and transformations. This massive, sprawling, 11-acre complex was founded under the belief that solitary confinement was the cure needed to prevent criminals from committing future crimes. It was believed criminals who served in solitary confinement would turn to a higher power to reconcile with themselves for their crimes – hence feeling "penitent". To assist in this process, each cell was equipped with a slit window on the ceiling nicknamed "The Eye of God". It would be the only light source available to the inmate.

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Several movies and television shows have tried to capture the essence of Philadelphia over the years – from the boxing Blockbuster Rocky, to the paranormal thriller The Sixth Sense, to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and even Boy Meets World – but each described the city differently. There is no easy way to approach a city as dynamic as The City of Brotherly Love. With countless layers of art, history, religion and the paranormal, Philadelphia is a city unlike any other throughout the United States. 

One thing that surprised me the most about Philadelphia was the history. The city was founded and designed by William Penn, who is also the state of Pennsylvania's namesake. Born in London, England in 1644 he lived through The Great Fire of 1666 and The Great Plague of London from 1665-1666. Both events shaped Penn's life so he designed the city to be strictly stone buildings (to stop fires from spreading) and to have plenty of space between the buildings (as to prevent illness from spreading). This led to the older areas of the city to have winding corridors between old stone walls.

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