David Mah certainly made friends everywhere he went and, as a photographer for the Prince George Citizen, he went everywhere. So it’s pretty safe to say he was friends with just about everyone in town.
But it was three very close friends who decided to honour the ‘shooter’ (photographer in newsroom parlance) after he died of cancer, way too early, at the age of 55 years in 2016. Glen (Moose) Scott, Chuck Nisbett, and Jason Peters became the Friends of David Mah and started raising money to dedicate a couple of park benches in the city in remembrance of Mah.
The benches, located outside CN Centre, were officially unveiled Wednesday morning with about 30 people on hand, including MLA Shirley Bond and Mayor Lyn Hall.
“He was a friend to everyone who met him,” said Peters of Mah. “It was impossible to meet Dave and not come away with a smile on your face. In terms of his ability as a photographer, he was so skilled. He was a guy who always stayed until he got the best shot he could possibly get.”
Nisbett, who also worked as a photographer at the Citizen, knew Mah very well.
“We met on the job, he was at Prince George This Week, he just asked me if I was the guy over at the Citizen,” said Nisbett. “Then he said ‘show me what it’s all about, teach me everything you got.’”
After 25 years as a photographer for Prince George This Week and the Citizen, he was still trying new techniques and trying to get quintessential picture.
“He did it without being brash and jumping in people’s way,” said Nisbett. “He did it by making friends with everyone … He just won everyone over. He was just very, very good at what he did.”
The idea of the benches started with Scott who contacted Glenn Mikkelsen at CN Centre with the idea of benches. Scott contacted Peters and Nisbett got involved and they started fundraising.
“The money started coming in,” said Peters. “Not only did we raise enough money to cover the cost of the two benches, which was $4,300, we basically raised double that through community support. That says a lot of what people thought of Dave.”
The extra money was split evenly between the BC Cancer Centre for the North in Prince George and the Canadian Cancer Society with each group receiving $2,062.76.
Bond also knew Mah very well as they spent weekends together at endless community events, she as MLA and he recording the event on film. He was already sick when the city hosted the Canada Winter Games in 2015 and Mah made a special trip back to the community from Calgary where he was receiving treatment to photograph the event.
He got one of Bond carrying the torch.
“The best part for me was getting off the bus and finding, lo and behold, that David had arrived,” she said. “That photo is one that I treasure.”
Hall also quipped that Mah knew the mayor’s schedule before Hall did.
“This is perfect,” said Hall of the benches. “This is so appropriate. Plain and simply put, he was just a nice guy. He was always interested in what you were doing. He has great history in this community and will continue to do that.”