Two Canadian women who have both been pioneers in media and television in the country also happen to be sisters and they have a connection to Parksville Qualicum Beach.
Qualicum Beach resident Heather Thompson is the mother of Rosemary and Virginia Thompson.
Heather is a member of the local Oceanside Grandmothers to Grandmothers and her daughters have enthusiastically agreed to host an event called Life on Both Sides of the Camera in Nanaimo May 15, which will benefit the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers Campaign.
Rosemary is the former Deputy Bureau Chief of the Parliamentary Bureau of CTV National News in Ottawa, she’s covered the careers of five Prime Ministers and seven election campaigns for CTV National News and is currently Director of Communications and Public Affairs for Canada’s National Arts Centre.
Virginia is executive producer of many popular Canadian TV shows including CTV’s smash hit comedy Corner Gas, CBC’s comedy series InSecurity, and YTV/Disney International’s Incredible Story Studio. She works behind the camera as President of Vérité Films and regularly mentors writers and producers through her work with The National Screen Institute and Ryerson University.
The event, moderated by the sister’s cousin Shelagh Rogers (CBC Radio host), will be an interactive evening where the sisters will share their stories and answer questions the audience has about their illustrious careers.
Heather said both girls helped out in the children’s wear shop she and her husband ran in both Montreal and Ottawa. That taught them about business and it helped solidify their interest in communication, she said. The fact that Rosemary was interested in being in front of a camera and Virginia behind one, is probably a sister thing, Heather said.
“Rosemary got married in June and Virginia got married in January,” she laughed.
Co-founder of the Oceanside Grandmothers, Kathy Grand, said the group has now put on a couple different media-related events with well-known speakers and they were both very well received.
“People in this area are well educated and they are interested in what’s going on in the world,” she said.
Grand said the success of the two sisters is overwhelming, both of them national and international award winners, and it will be interesting to see how they have managed their careers to date and how they continue to thrive while still managing families. Having met the sisters before, Grand said they are very enthusiastic and funny and she’s sure the evening will be lively and appealing to a wide audience.
“Virginia will no doubt be asked about Corner Gas and with Rosemary, here’s a girl who stood on the White House lawn while the planes went overhead at 911, the first woman correspondent for CTV News in the U.S., she started a whole new role for women reporters… so they’ve been trailblazers, both of them.”
Tickets to Both Sides of the Camera are $30, available at Cranky Dog Music in Parksville, The Shoe Inn in Qualicum beach and the Grand Hotel in Nanaimo. The event takes place at the Grand Hotel at 4898 Rutherford Road in Nanaimo, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 15. The Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers Campaign helps grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa bring up their AIDS-orphaned grandchildren. The NEWS is a sponsor of the event.