Opening Notes

Opening Notes

The latest trend in antique artifacts

BARBARA WICKENS January 27 1997
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

The latest trend in antique artifacts

BARBARA WICKENS January 27 1997

Opening Notes

The latest trend in antique artifacts


The prestigious Winter Antiques Fair that opened last week in New York City is a must-attend event for many serious collectors.

And for the third year running, Donald Ellis,

39, of Dundas, Ont., is the only Canadian among the 70 arts and antiques dealers from around the world at the invitation-only event. The self-taught Ellis is one of only a handful of dealers specializing in 18th-and 19th-century Canadian and American Indian art. Last year, as one of only two dealers in the field at the show, Ellis sold 41 of 50 objects on offer at his booth, netting $2 million. Some of the buyers were collectors of Art Deco or Shaker furniture who had never before bought native art, but were attracted to the objects made out of hide, wood, bone and beading. “These things can have tremendous soul,” says Ellis, who first started collecting such items

during his youth, when he attended powwows at the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ont. This year, Ellis and his wife, Mary Ann Bastien, have one of four booths selling native art at the New York fair, which runs until Jan. 26. Items range from a $1,600 Micmac porcupine quill box from Nova Scotia to a $368,500 Alaskan Yup’ik Eskimo mask. Ellis is especially proud of a carved and painted chiefs chest from the Tsimshian Indians of coastal British Columbia. The 1850 chest, with an asking price of $221,100, was on loan to a Canadian museum, which could not afford to buy it because of recent cutbacks. The public’s loss could be a private collector’s gain.

New nomenclature

When Victor Wong, president of the Vancouver Association of Chinese Canadians, was looking at a map of British Columbia last year, he was surprised to notice Chinaman Lake near Peace River. “If you look in a dictionary under ‘Chinaman,’ it says it’s archaic and derogatory,” he notes. He found that other B.C. place names included Chinaman Flat and Chinaman Rapids. So Wong and his organization successfully petitioned the B.C. ministry of the environment, recommending that the names be-

come Chinese Lake and so on. Wong now hopes that local Chinese groups in other parts of Canada will also move to get the names changed. And, in fact, a Calgary man is doing just that. Alfred Chow recommended to the Alberta Historical Resources Board that it change the name of Chinaman Peak, near Canmore. Chow suggests it should be named for Ha Ling, who, according to local legend, was a coal miner who won a bet that he could run to the top of the peak and back before the end of his lunch break. Adds Chow: “It’s appropriate to name it after the guy who climbed it.”

An antihistamine alert

hen it was introduced in 1983, Seldane—the trade name for the chemical terfenadine—was the first antihistamine that could relieve sneezing, runny noses and watery eyes without causing drowsiness. But in 1992, reports emerged that the allergy reliever causes potentially fatal heart irregularities when taken with commonly prescribed medications, including the

antibiotic erythromycin, or by patients with liver disease. Canadian regulators reacted by placing the drug behind pharmacists’ counters, where it would be dispensed along with information about its risks. In the U.S., Seldane became available by prescription only. Then last July, the manufacturer, Hoechst Marion Roussel, introduced

Allegra, a new version of the antihistamine with no known side-effects. That paved the way for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to announce last week its plan to take Seldane and other terfenadine products off the market. Many Canadian doctors would also like to see the drug banned. “It’s a terrific antihistamine,” says Toronto cardiologist Ken Melvin. “But it can kill you.” Still, the com-

pany stands by its product. “It is safe and effective if taken according to the label’s instructions,” argues Laval, Que.based spokesman, Jean-Paul Marsan. Canadian health officials say they plan to “take a close look at the drug,” after they obtain more information from the FDA. Allegra has not yet been approved for use in Canada. But, in the meantime, consumers can purchase Seldane at any drugstore across the country.



Beauty and beasts


't has turned into the . biggest U.S. media circus since O. J. Simpson was charged with murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. The victim is again an attractive blond—in this case a preternaturally glamorous six-year-old. John Bennet Ramsey, a Boulder, Colo., millionaire, found the strangled body of his daughter, the reigning Little Royal Miss, JonBenet, in the family home on Dec. 26. Since then, hundreds of journalists have descended on the town, questioning everyone from the neighbors to the seamstress of the girl’s pageant costumes. As a result, the family has taken an unusual measure: hiring a media consultant. Still, that did not prevent a tabloid, the Globe, from publishing leaked pictures of the autopsy. With no arrests by week’s end—and with homicide investigators saying little—the frenzy seemed certain to continue.

It all computes

Two new and notable software titles for the home computer.-

• Produced by a Toronto-based software company, PlanetWare Northern Europe

($69.95) is an exhaustively detailed and simple-to-use travel planner. Its database Includes the contents of 18 Baedeker travel guides for European countries, and delivers 900 color photos, 700 maps, 7,000 addresses and phone numbers for major attractions (rated by travel experts), and more than 1,000 walking and driving tours. The program allows travellers to create and print out a pre-trip itinerary. Copious but relatively easy to use, PlanetWare can provide a handy tool for anyone planning a grand tour of the Continent.

• With the Super Bowl just around the corner and several long, football-less months ahead, pigskin fans can find solace in Front Page Sports: Football Pro ’97. The game, produced by California’s Sierra On-Line Inc., is both brilliantly rendered and nastily entertaining. Every team in the NFL

can be played on or against, and users can guide their favorite squads through game aftergame, season after season, including drafts, playoffs and the Super Bowl.

Better, the game allows players to go head-to-head over a modem or a network—and even trade verbal jibes between downs. With 3-D graphics and bonecrunching sound effects, Football Pro ’97 should keep armchair quarterbacks on the edge of their seats throughout the off-season.