Sen. Pamela Wallin’s name is synonymous with the media industry in Canada, from her days as the very first woman to be appointed a Morning Television anchor to becoming one of the first female senators to ever be elected.
But Wallin is equally well known for her contributions to not just broadcast journalism but the arts as well, namely through her career as an opera singer — a part of her career that would come to define her.
In 2013, with the help of her friend Lynne Delfs, the director of CBC arts, Wallin made a documentary to capture the life and legacy of the world-renowned Montreal soprano.
“My final experience with Lynne was at the Grammy Awards,” Wallin said, explaining that she was so excited and nervous about performing with an orchestra, a group of which was performing “outside the White House” for the first time, that she actually “forgot to take my makeup off before entering the venue.”
“Do I do this?” she asked Delfs, struggling to remember the one mistake she had committed for which they had now given her two minutes. It was time for him to find his rubber band, and Wallin begged to be allowed to reset her makeup backstage so she could smooth her chin before stepping out into the very public glare of the world’s music awards night.
“It was a small thing,” Wallin said, “but it was precious.”
The documentary, entitled Girl Symphonic, aired later that year and marked an end to Wallin’s two-decade career as an opera singer.
Delfs, who died in October at age 77, was an English professor at McGill University before she found her place in the world of media arts. She frequently talked with Wallin about the women who had succeeded in their chosen careers without any formal training.
In particular, Delfs said, she would remind Wallin that for someone who had studied opera, piano and acting, to survive in her career, she had to have a work ethic and go beyond studying the arcane arts.
Wallin recalls that Delfs would often ask, “Who’s ahead of me? Who’s ahead of us?”
“Lynne is an icon in Canadian broadcasting,” Wallin said. “We lost a very, very important figure in Canadian broadcasting history today.”
Read the full obituary here.
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