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New TV documentary showcases a media icon

By Jim Gordon and Leeta Liepins

Published 2:39 PDT, Thu March 28, 2024

Malcolm Parry has been part of the media and cultural landscape of Vancouver for over 50 years. He has taken photos, written about and documented the comings and goings of this city and the people who made Vancouver what it was and is today. 

Now comes a long-overdue tribute called The Society Page. This documentary, which will begin airing on Knowledge Network starting on March 17 and will stream across Canada indefinitely, gives us a look at the life of this long-time journalist who really is the last of his kind. The Society Page is directed by award-winning filmmaker, Kevin Eastwood. 

Born in Walsall, England, Parry immigrated to Vancouver in 1957 and in July of that year, joined the B.C. Engineering Co, a division of the B.C. Electric Co. (now BC Hydro) as a soil inspector on what was later named the Terzaghi Dam after its designer, Karl Terzaghi. Parry was soon named photographer for that hydro-electric project. He left the firm after completion of the development in late 1960.

By the early 1970’s he was freelancing as a photographer for the now-defunct Vancouver Life, Pacific Yachting and other magazines, and also photographed numerous theatrical productions. He entered the magazine publishing field full-time in June of 1971. He and two partners founded B.C. Affairs magazine and B.C. Industry Reports magazine, of which he was editor and publisher.

In early 1994, he became editor of a local monthly and turned it into Vancouver Magazine, which continues its publication today. He was editor for 16 years and publisher for one of them. He was also executive editor of Calgary and Edmonton magazines, and of the Vancouver-based business magazine, Equity. 

In 1991, Parry became a columnist at the Vancouver Sun. He remained so for 30 years, during which he wrote hundreds of thousands of words and took tens of thousands of photographs.

Our City Tonight (OCT) recently sat down with Malcolm Parry (MP) and director/producer Kevin Eastwood (KE) to talk about a newly released documentary The Society Page.

OCT: Malcolm, talk about your first impression of our city back when you arrived in the mid-1950’s.

MP: I arrived on a Thursday afternoon from Britain after two days in the air flying and stayed at a place at 10th and Burrard. I went downtown, filled up with lager at the St. Regis, filled up on Cantonese food at the Bamboo Terrace, staggered over the Granville Bridge and threw up the whole thing. Went home, slept like a baby, and got a job the next morning—a good paying job—and have been working ever since.

OCT: You didn’t start in media in this town but through your photography work, you kind of eased into it until you were writing and even co-founding publications.

MP: That’s right. I was a photographer—I studied to be a civil engineer in Britain—then came here and became a photographer for BC Electric, which then I sort of morphed into media, thanks in part to the father of Kevin Eastwood, producer/director of The Society Page. 

Kevin’s father gave me my first paying gig. It was a cover for Vancouver Life magazine, and oddly enough it has a connection to what I’m doing now. It was a story written by The Vancouver Sun columnist, Allan Fotheringham, under his pseudonym, James Holt, and it was about the “hoi polloi”, in town. You know, the people with the money and the influence, and the good jobs living in the nicest areas. And although most were only second-generation Canadians, they used to be called “the old money”. So, I did the photography for that story.

Kevin Eastwood joins us.

OCT: Kevin, tell us about this documentary, The Social Page that will be airing on the Knowledge Network this month.

KE: It’s a film about Mac and his work. He’s taken more photos of the people of Vancouver than, arguably, anyone. There are predecessors of great photographers in this town that we think of like Foncie Pulice, a street photographer or Yucho Chow, who had his portrait studio in Chinatown. 

That was the beginning of the 20th century to the middle of the 20th century and now we have Mac. I truly think he is a successor to those legacies because he’s taken photos of people in this town for 40+ years. In this film Douglas Copeland even says—I think no joke—that Mac has taken over 1 million photos, and I don’t think he’s too far off.

MP: Can I add something?

OCT: Of course, this is your story.

MP: I thought about something as you were talking about me photographing over the years, various people and activities, I thought about an analogy that goes back to when I was a teenager and I had my own band. You would play some rock ‘n roll, you would play some jazz, some ballroom dancing, quick-steps, and waltzes. 

Sometimes, you would see a group of people in the crowd who looked like they weren’t having a good time, so you would play a polka. Suddenly these people would jump out of their chairs and whirl around the floor and have a good time. I think that affected my feelings about what I do in the broader sense: that you always have to play a polka. That’s really what it is, just a big mix.

OCT: That is a great analogy, always have to play a polka.

To view the video interview in full go to

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