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Participant Information

Peter Thompson


In 2002, I sought medical advice concerning some difficulty I was having swallowing. After a series of tests, my neurologist suggested that it could be one of five things: ALS; MS; Myesthenia Gravis; Parkinson's; or Cancer.

My reply was "Could you maybe add something to the list less life threatening?" The day I was diagnosed, the doctor was late and I went 31 minutes overtime on the meter and got a ridiculously high parking ticket on my windshield.

My objection to the ticket, and subsequent harassment by a collection agency, ended up front page news which reached all the way to the Privacy Commissioner's and Premier's Offices in Ontario, and I was interviewed on CBC Television.

It was resolved by my suggestion that the parking company and collectors could donate $1,000 each to Parkinson Society Canada. They agreed. Thus began my trial by fire in the world of PD.

I used to make my living as a musician and then became a lawyer. I always say I got into the University of Alberta because the school needed a lead singer for the law school band. I have never lost my love for performing music and recently released a compilation of my favorite songs which can be sampled on this site.

The PD sometimes makes my fingers disobedient when I am playing guitar and my finger picking is not always perfect when I have an audience.

Probably one of the worst spin-offs from PD is the effect it has on one's self confidence. That becomes a vicious circle as one avoids risks of failure. Not knowing how one's body will react from hour to hour is not exactly inspirational.

Fortunately, until recently, PD has been more of a nuisance than a real threat to my career as a lawyer. I am thankful that there are medications which permit movement in an almost normal fashion for me.

When I am hiking in the mountains of Oregon or fishing the streams of Ontario, symptoms evaporate. As well, when I spend a few hours late at night at my cottage with Jackson Browne or Strauss on the CD player or oldies on the radio and a paint brush in my hand, I can forget for a while.

I like to sit back when I am done, sipping on some wine and put a spotlight on the painting. I think losing a bit of distance vision is a good thing if one wants to go for an Impressionist style.

I have not had an art lesson since I was 16. I hope you enjoy the paintings and my other passion, photography. More can be found at, if you look for photos by "musiknlaw."

My biggest love is for my three children of whom I am very proud. I only wish they could better understand the frustrations of living with PD but they will in time. Thanks for reading this. I like to stay active and optimistic most of the time. Thank you, PDF, for giving us a forum to be creative.

My CD, "Taking a Dive (Heart First)", which includes the songs you see sampled here, is available for purchase from my website,, or by going to

I have also been profiled in a Parkinson's documentary, by film-maker Brent Stewart. Click the following link to view a sample clip: One of a Kind.