“If there is anything the Festival of Festivals should avoid becoming, it is the Cannes Film Festival.” Jay Scott, film critic, The Globe and Mail, 1981
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), now in its 37th year, is one of the world’s great film festivals without question. Second only to the Cannes Film Festival in terms of audience/press attendance, prestige and number of films screened; yet, since it opened its impressive five-story digs – known by its corporate name, the Bell Lightbox – in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district in 2010, many questions remain unanswered. The big one being: how do you fill the 1,400 seats in the five state-of-the-art cinemas beyond the festival’s 11-day run during the first two weeks of September?
“He drank like a fish.” “The early bird gets the worm.” “It’s raining cats and dogs.” “You can’t get blood out of a stone.” “As quick as a wink.” “Six of one and half a dozen of the other.” “There’s many a true word said in jest.” These, and many other expressions, colour our vernacular without our being aware that the satiric voice behind them belonged to Thomas Chandler Haliburton, a prominent Nova Scotian.
Haliburton was born on December 17, 1796 in Windsor, NS, the son of a judge and grandson of a lawyer. An upper crust Tory, he was also a successful lawyer and businessman and was appointed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. He held office in England after his retirement from the bench. He was wealthy, respected and influential, but, despite his accomplishments, he was deeply frustrated.
August 20, 2011
Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.
Les Jeux olympiques de Londres sont terminés depuis quelques jours. La communauté sportive mondiale a souligné de façon unanime la qualité de l’organisation de ces Jeux de la trentième olympiade. Me Marcel Aubut, président du Comité olympique canadien, a qualifié ces Jeux d’exceptionnels. Pour lui, l’équipe canadienne « a livré (la marchandise), la ville de Londres a livré. Il n’y a pas un athlète qui a laissé échapper de la frustration comme c’est toujours le cas. Même les journalistes ne se sont pas lamentés comme ils savent le faire souvent. Tout a fonctionné à la perfection », a-t-il déclaré au Journal de Montréal. Bref, tout le monde semble satisfait.
I arrived in Glasgow early on the evening of February 3rd via Scotrail by way of Edinburgh. Typically, passengers looking to travel to Glasgow from London would board a train at Euston station for a direct route to the city, but an early morning freight train derailment led to the rerouting of all northward traffic to nearby King’s Cross, thankfully just one stop over from Euston on the tube. Selecting this route takes travelers along the eastern coast of the United Kingdom – a slice of the island not often written about due to its farness from more attractive tourist spots like Brighton, Wales, Northern Ireland and the islands of western Scotland. Sadly, as I gave in to the overpowering urge to nap shortly after having lunch onboard the train, I also have not much to report about those sodden seaside villages.
Legend dictates that the games of the Olympiad owed their origin to the Theban hero Heracles who staged them to honour his grandfather Pelops. It was said of Heracles that while engaged in his 12 labours he brought back a twig of wild olive from the legendary land of Hyperboreans and planted it in Olympia. This was the tree whose branches served to crown the victors. If we look for more practical explanations, the Olympic Games more likely derived from funeral games held in honour of fallen heroes, like the one Achilles held for his friend Patroclus in Homer’s Iliad.
George Orton is known as Canada’s first Olympic gold medal winner. On the official Olympic Games website, there are two records concerning George Orton at the 1900 Paris Olympics. The records show that he won a bronze medal in the 400 m men’s hurdles and a gold medal in the 3000 m steeplechase. The records note his country as Canada, making George Orton the first Canadian to win at the Olympic Games. The Canadian Olympic Association supports that record; it regards Orton as the first Canadian Olympic medalist. But Canada did not send a team to the Olympics in 1900; Canada had no Olympic team until 1904 at the St. Louis games. Orton, a student, competed as part of the University of Pennsylvania team. Because he was entered as an American athlete, it was not until years later that anyone even realized that a Canadian had won an Olympic competition.
Le 22 mai dernier à Québec, lors du diner-conférence donné en l’honneur de Jacques Rogge, président du Comité international olympique, les dirigeants de l’équipe canadienne ont clairement indiqué leur objectif en vue des Jeux de Londres : terminer parmi les douze premiers pays au tableau des médailles pour les Jeux olympiques de 2012.
Canada’s national anthem was first heard one fine June evening in 1880, on the campus of Laval University in Quebec City. Joseph Keaney Foran and some fellow law students were relaxing in one of the buildings when they heard a commotion at the front door. They saw Father Pierre Rouselle, the university secretary, and three other men enter the building and head straight for the piano. In the lead was a small man with a halo of black hair around his balding dome. “He was very excited,” Foran later wrote of the little man, “and kept tapping his hands and saying ‘I’ve got it! I’ve finally found it; I’ve succeeded; come, listen.” He arranged himself at the piano and the others perched on a nearby dais. “Throwing back his head he played for us, for the first time, the masterpiece of his genius – it was Calixa Lavallée; he played O Canada.”
Naming a country is no small task. The name should evoke feelings of pride and strength and reflect the character of the land and its people. The explorer Jacques Cartier generally gets the credit for naming Canada; he documented the name in his journal, describing the “Kingdom of Canada” and noting that the entrance to the St. Lawrence River “is the way to and the beginning of…the route to Canada.” However, the story of the country’s naming is not his alone.
There were celebrations that first day, July 1, 1867, for the new “Dominion of Canada.” But neither the date, nor the name nor the designation was a sure thing even a few months before. The celebrations were hardly a spontaneous public outpouring.
After all, confederation had been strictly a political process that took place in the backrooms of Quebec City and Charlottetown, with the colonial politicians being urged on by their distant masters in London. “Here in this house,” wrote Agnes Macdonald, the new prime minister’s wife, “the atmosphere is so awfully political that sometimes I think that the very flies hold Parliament on the kitchen tablecloths.”
Sarah Polley’s second feature as writer/director, Take This Waltz, starring Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Luke Kirby, will be released at the end of the month. Polley, who is 33 and has been acting since the age of four – landing her first part in the Canadian movie One Magic Christmas and starring in Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen at the age of eight – has become one of the most respected directors in Canada, a remarkable achievement for a high school dropout.