Monday, September 28, 2015


Asked where her favourite spot in Toronto is, Mary Vallis Cowan did not hesitate to say the Toronto Brick Works, a converted brick manufacturing facility dating back to the 1800's. "Its a place where my daughter watched a turtle laying eggs in the middle of Toronto".

Born in Montreal, her dad headed west to seek employment in the Alberta's oil patch when she was 11 months of age. Eight months later, with an oil job, Mary and her mother followed, settling in Edmonton. After a move to Kelowna, British Columbia when she was high school aged, Mary headed to Victoria, British Columbia to attend the University of Victoria.

Landing a job at the National Post in 2000 began Mary's career in journalism but not before she had to finish writing her last exams in the office, Andrew Coyne, National Post political columnist and author!

Ten years after starting at the National Post, Mary moved to the Toronto Star where she is now Life Editor. Leaving hard news at the Post and working her way into the Life department she is finding it a refreshing change, "I came to the Star as an editor. Now I am the Life editor and it is so fun and creative," she says of the freedom to experiment with ideas and stories.

Now heavily involved in taking stories in a different direction on their new iPad tablet edition, Star Touch, things have become very exciting. "It's exceptionally visual. We're telling stories in a completely new way. It shows off photography so well," she says of the display possibilities of the new tablet edition of the Star. She did a count a few days ago of the number of photos in the Life section. There were 10 printed photos in the newspaper, but in the iPad edition there were 100. "We are focusing on how people want to consume their news and putting them in control," she says of the platform's high level of interactivity.

MARY FUN FACT: "I'm a secret Coronation Street fan," she admits of her guilty pleasure. "It's all so tawdry and it's a 20 minute escape in her day. After I put the kids to bed I curl up with a glass of wine and watch the terrible lives of Coronation Street," she says laughing. She never has to worry about being without as she simply downloads the episodes from iTunes... on her iPad of course!


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