Irene Lomax remembers the first time she saw colour TV. It was 1957, shortly after she and her husband, Jack, emigrated from England. The newly built BC Electric building (now the Electra) on Burrard and Nelson in downtown Vancouver held an open house; visitors could go to the top and look over the city. In an era when there were few other high-rises, it was a thrilling vantage point.
As befits an electric company, on display were colour TVs - so new at the time that Canadian stations weren’t yet broadcasting in colour. “The images were all sort of pink and grey,” recalls Irene. “We thought if that’s colour TV, we don’t want it!”
Irene and Jack may not have been impressed by colour TV, but it was a different story when Knowledge Network went on-air a few decades later. They were avid viewers right from the start, and when Knowledge created its donor program in 1988, they were among the first to join.
“We became donors because we enjoyed the programming and were happy to have a non-commercial channel,” says Irene. “We were quite happy to carry on being Partners.”
Jack has since passed away, but Irene has maintained their membership and now holds the honour of being Knowledge Network’s longest continuous donor. Irene says she’s amazed by this fact. “My membership number is 48. That means I have outlived, by age or interest, the first 47. It feels good to be able to still enjoy the programs.”
Among her favourites are the British mysteries and dramas, including A Touch of Frost and Foyle’s War. Heartbeat, especially, reminds her of home: she grew up in the Pennines, the mountainous region between Lancashire and Yorkshire, where the series is set. She also watches the music concerts on Radio City and some of the nature series.
“I’ve been enjoying Canada Over the Edge because it shows places in BC that I know the names of, but have never been to. It’s nice to see them.”
When her two great-granddaughters, Paloma and Ophelia, come to visit, they sometimes watch Knowledge Kids - that is, when they’re not swimming in the pool in Irene’s complex or playing with the family of stuffed bears that inhabits her sunroom.
To Irene, the quality of the programming on Knowledge has remained high over the years, and that’s why she continues to donate.
“You’re getting quality TV with Knowledge. When you’re watching a program you know that someone’s thought a lot about it before bringing it in. Knowledge is something I can