September 1 1969


September 1 1969


The housewife denmother to the folk-song crowd

For a folk singer, dropping in at “Estelle’s place” in Toronto is like coming home. There was one evening, for instance, when Bob Beers of the singing Beers Family sat in a corner of the living room, strumming guitar and serenading Bonnie Dobson, while Theodore Bikel perched on the couch, toasting new arrivals in Yiddish.

The next person to walk in might well have been Joan Baez, Pete Seeger or even the secretive Bob Dylan, and nobody would have blinked twice — least of all the hostess, Estelle Klein, a 39year-old housewife whom Sylvia (Mrs. Ian) Tyson calls “the house mother of the whole folk crowd."

No singer, Estelle nevertheless got hooked on folk music as a teenager at campfire singsongs, began helping friends stage concerts, then in the late ’50s helped found the Toronto Folk Music Guild to demand decent wages and working hours for coffeehouse performers. Now, as artistic director (since 1964) of the Mariposa Festival, she makes a year-round

job out of engaging dozens of the continent’s leading folk artists for the threeday summer folkfest on Toronto Island.

“Usually,” says Oscar Brand, “it takes arrogance and gall to get anything done in this business, but Estelle does it with gracious understanding.”

Her motherly concern for each artist also counts for a lot. Itinerant performers have learned they’re always welcome at the old house in Toronto’s salubrious Rosedale district, where Estelle lives with her architect-husband Jack and their 10year-old son Paul. For beginners she has words of encouragement; for old troupers, reassurance —though, as Estelle herself says, “I try not to push myself into their problems. But if they ask me, I do what I can "

Typically. David Rea. now working out of New York, remembers: "She invited me to dinner and each year she sends a Christmas card. Nobody else did that.”

“You get straight answers from Estelle — not flattery,” adds Bonnie Dobson. And Gordon Lightfoot seems to speak for a good many successful stars who, but for Estelle, might never have made it: “She made us believe in ourselves.”

Quebec’s No. 1 salesman says jobs beat separatism

If it’s true, as some economic determinists insist, that economic growth will put an end to separatism, then Quebec’s most effective advocate of the federalist cause could well prove to be a handsome, hardworking, 51-year-old squash champion from Montreal named Paul Ouimet, QC.

More than a year ago, Ouimet, a wealthy corporation lawyer and director of several Quebec companies, broached an idea to Jean-Paul Beaudry, Quebec’s Minister of Industry and Commerce: What the province needed, Ouimet suggested, was a vigorous organization to go out and get new investment.

The result was the creation last March of the government-backed General Council of Quebec Industries, with Ouimet as president and director-general, and a 53-man board of directors of such calibre as Charles Bronfman, president, House of Seagram; Conrad F. Harrington, president, Royal Trust; and Air Vice-Marshal M. M. Hendrick, president, Allied Chemical Canada Ltd.

With their active support Ouimet is gathering and spreading the facts about Quebec’s new economic growth. Among his recent news items; a German company setting up a $30-million chemical plant; Golden Eagle Refineries investing $70 million; Quebec North Shore Paper building a $55-million complex.

To spread the word Ouimet has a $150,000 budget of government money and is working a 14-hour day, seven days a week. Even so, he manages to see his family of five children regularly, jogs daily around the mountain near his Westmount home, and gets in two or three sessions of squash each week. (He and Brendan Macken of Toronto are current Canadian doubles champions.)

Ouimet believes his council, though nonpartisan, can do much to help solve Quebec’s political problems. A better economic climate can mean more opportunities for young Quebeckers, many of whom, he believes, are separatists out of frustration and disenchantment.

“Give them jobs,” he says confidently, “and they’ll become conservatives.”

The girl who put Joerdans at the top of the ‘pops’

The Vancouver Art Gallery, as usual, was humming. In one room, Shaughnessy matrons sipped Kelowna red wine as they chose paintings from the gallery’s rental collection. In another, people swarmed through a show of Billy Al Bengston’s kandy-kolored, plastic-coated wall panels. Elsewhere, a knot of flower children were admiring a large Jacob Joerdans on loan from the National Gallery. Joerdans’ faces were gross and corrupt, and one of the kids remarked, “He’s saying the same thing as the Beatles in Piggies.”

It was a happy, human scene, and it was a tribute to the gallery’s senior curator, Doris Shadbolt, who says her job is to “assist in the breakdown of the barriers between life and art.”

Mrs. Shadbolt, together with gallery director Tony Emery, have come a long way toward achieving that aim. Six years ago the place was a mausoleum, distinguished only by a preponderance of Emily Carrs. Today it’s a different scene.

Much of the credit is due to Emery, an urbane Englishman whose showmanship has convinced many Vancouverites that visiting the gallery is no more awesome an experience than going to the movies. But showmanship alone didn't create the transformation, for the sheer quality of the VAG’s shows in recent years has attracted both local interest and international acclaim. And this — the job of pulling together a first-class show —is where Mrs. Shadbolt excels.

Her tour de force was 1967's Arts Of The Raven, easily the best exhibit of west-coast Indian art ever assembled But there have been smaller shows that were miracles of compression and taste — such as last January’s New York 13, which gave Vancouver its first look at such far-out superstars as Warhol, Sega! and Claes Oldenburg.

“We’re getting visitors now,” says Mrs, Shadbolt, “who heard about us in New York or London.” More important, though, is the gallery’s new involvement in the life of the city. “People no longer come in expecting a, quote, aesthetic experience,” she says. “They come simply because there are interesting things to be seen, heard and felt.”

The tycoon who makes fortunes out of failures

The self-made tycoon who specializes in one line of business is always open to the suspicion that he just happened upon a lucky situation. The real test is to take over one faltering enterprise after another and make each one prosper.

Jack Fraser, 38, of Winnipeg passes this test with ease. “Jack,” says a friend, “is only happy when he’s up to his ears in a nerve-shattering financial crisis.”

Fraser has been happy often. Before he earned his commerce degree (Saskatchewan ’52) he bought an almostbankrupt trucking company in Saskatoon. In seven years he boosted its annual gross from $250,000 to two million dollars, then sold out to the CNR.

Six years ago he dazzled Winnipeg’s retail merchants by acquiring Hanford Drewitt, a respected but declining men’swear shop on Portage near Main. Soon he had a horde of fashion - conscious under-30s trooping in for trendy items he’d scouted in the U.S. Fraser became his own walking advertisement, appearing in as many as a dozen new outfits a week.

He doubled HD's sales volume but, as

a friend says, “once a crisis is over, he starts to get itchy.” Fraser sold out again.

His latest venture looks his best yet. After buying in as managing director of Northwest Design And Fabrication (then making sauna baths, reinforced construction panels, preformed motel suites) Fraser talked a Manitoba government agency into surveying the mobile-home market. The findings: a big market potential. That was all Fraser needed to know. By this June, Northwest’s sales were up 400 percent over the previous year (to $2.2 million) and climbing fast.

When he’s not admiring sales charts or checking plant production with a stopwatch, Fraser is busy on community affairs (under his leadership, Mamtoha Theatre Centre sold 9,500 season tickets one season — an MTC record) and throwing parties guests don’t quickly forget. “A good one,” says one frequent partygoer. “lasts the better part of two days.”

The No. 2 who finds fun trying harder in politics

In the Saskatchewan Legislature the debate had raged bitterly for several days, and somebody asked David Gordon (Davy) Steuart, the Liberal government’s peppery little Treasurer and Deputy Premier, where he stood.

“Well,” he said, “some of my friends are in favor and some are against. And I always stand squarely with my friends.”

The typical ingredient of that comeback is wit rather than waffle. As the increasingly influential right-hand man to Premier Ross Thatcher, Steuart has one knack his boss has never acquired: the ability to take the sting out of debate by a sudden injection of wit.

It’s a natural wit but it took a while to register among MLAs. After a stint as mayor of Prince Albert, Steuart got into the provincial house by narrowly winning a by-election in 1962. Sitting with the Liberal Opposition, he looked at first like anything but a man who would soon have a lot to say about the way the province would be run: “I spent two months trying to say something and constantly being out of order.”

But with the Liberal victory of 1964, Steuart moved into the cabinet and ably took charge of a succession of portfolios — Health, then Natural Resources and finally, in 1967, Treasury. By then Steuart had also picked up the title of Deputy Premier. (An administrator he may be; a political thinker he’s not. He’s been known, in a single breath, to demand “an entirely new approach” to welfare — then advocate make-work projects of the sort that failed in the ’30s.

Early in 1968, Thatcher made it plain that his deputy was indeed his willing and able right arçp: during one rof the frequent quarrels between the government and the University of Saskatchewan, Thatcher ducked out of the argument and let Steuart ride out the storm.

Then, last winter, with Thatcher too ill to attend the federal-provincial conference in Ottawa. Steuart again stepped into the breach. Recounting his appearance there, he neatly characterized his position on the two-man team. “The speech was Ross’s — but the jokes were mine.” □