September 19, 2016
While the Federation of University Women held their registration night on the main floor of Ottawa City Hall the Media Club of Ottawa met upstairs in the Billings Room, kicking off the Fall season with the club’s traditional Meet and Greet evening. Nearly 20 people, including several non-members, were on hand for the September 19 meeting to hear guest speaker Thomas Virany, husband of club member Margaret Virany, discuss his varied work history including a journalism career.
Tom’s visual presentation included stories of his family’s early days in his home country, Hungary, his interesting careers and how while earning his B.A.Sc. at the University of Toronto he volunteered to work for the daily university newspaper, The Varsity, to perfect his English.
After two years he not only became editor of The Varsity, following in the footsteps of the likes of Canada’s 10th prime minister William Lyon MacKenzie King and the CBC radio’s long time host of Morningside, Peter Gzowski, but that was where he and Margaret met.
Tom told tales of his early days working with the mainstream press when he interviewed everyone from movie star Za Za Gabor, to members of a biker gang called Black Riders and people belonging to a nudist camp on Lake Simcoe.
He talked about how he met Margaret, their marriage in 1955 and how, decades later they co-edited and published the Aylmer Bulletin from 1981-1990.
Some of Tom’s stories made national news and while editing the Bulletin his article about Jean Claude Duvalier, aka Baby Doc, Haiti’s brutal president who ruled from 1971-1986, was picked up by news media across North America.
Tom’s journalism career also includes working for Canadian Press, MacLean Hunter and CBC t.v. As a freelancer he worked on such programs as The Nature of Things and xxxx. Before his journalism career he also worked as a patent officer in Toronto and an engineer in Montreal.
In addition to Tom’s talk he and Marg arranged an abundant display of documents, newspaper clippings and books written by Tom during his varied career from his proud beginnings in Hungary through his youth and many undertakings as a journalist to his emigration to Canada and further career path in this country.
In a spirit of camaraderie Helen Bednarek Van Eyk took on hosting duties for the evening, ensuring tasty food arrived from Cafe 111 Lisgar. Jayne Simms Dalmotas also pitched in to help, handling membership renewal and guest registration for Iris ten Holder who was present but still recovering after suffering a severe virus attack in late August.
Tom was introduced and thanked by club president, June Coxon.