Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Bunking the Cabot crow

BARBARA WICKENS May 12 1997
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Bunking the Cabot crow

BARBARA WICKENS May 12 1997

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS

Bunking the Cabot crow

When Anglo-Italian explorer John Cabot spotted land in 1497, he is said to have cried out, “O buona vista” (Oh happy sight). Five hundred years later, aptly named Bonavista, Nfld., is sprucing up for the June 24 re-enactment of the landfall of Cabot’s ship, the Matthew, and for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and a crush of tourists. There is just one problem: where does a town of 4,500 put up 30,000 guests? The royals will take a helicopter back to five-star digs in St. John’s, a three-hour trip by car for more common folk. But those visitors who want to stay in Bonavista for its June 23 to 26 program—which includes air and antique car shows, performances by the Celtic band Irish Descendants and the folk group Great Big Sea, and a Newfoundland Kitchen Party, a traditional gathering of folks in the kitchen to play music—will have difficulty finding shelter. The 36 rooms in Bonavista’s one mo-

tel are already

fully booked, as are the town’s five bed-and-breakfasts. Says event manager Brent Meade: “You could pull your hair out all day and stress out about the accommodation crunch.” But that’s not the style in a province that knows how to throw a party. Instead, organizers are simply asking visitors to bring a tent or trailer. Meade says 800 temporary campsites, as well as 120 permanent sites, can be booked through the tourism office. That still leaves room for a lot of unhappy campers. Those who do land a campground pass may be moved to echo Cabot by declaring: “Oh happy site.”

Slow off the mark

Canadian Donovan Bailey and American Michael Johnson may be set to blast out of the blocks on June 1 in a 150-m match race in Toronto, but the organizers of the $l-million winner-take-all event are still getting up to speed. To accommodate requests from worldwide media, for instance, the promoters, Ottawa-based Magellan Entertainment Group, hastily organized press days at the sprinters’ training centres last week in Texas. But many news outlets claimed they were not notified, while others declined because of the short notice and exorbitant airfares. As a result, only 11 reporters, photographers and cameramen attended Bailey's session in Austin—where a meeting room had been set up for more than 70—and the same number showed up two days later in Dallas to meet Johnson. Magellan president Giselle Briden expressed surprise at the dismal turnout, saying dozens of reporters had requested credentials. The sprinters’ representatives were not amused. The runners had planned only one media day before arriving in Toronto, but they may each have to schedule more because

none of the major U.S. media outlets attended. “I mean, where was USA Today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The New York Times?” asked one of Johnson’s frustrated representatives. “It’s a joke.”

Bre-X, the books

The tale of the collapse of Bre-X Minerals Ltd.—the tiny Calgary mining company that may have unearthed one of the largest gold deposits in history in the jungles of Indonesia—is as intriguing as any mystery novel. So it seems fitting that no fewer than three writers—Maclean’s National Business Correspondent Jennifer Wells, Financial

Post editor Diane Francis and Canadian Business senior writer Brian Hutchinson— are all writing books on the real-life rise and fall of Bre-X. Hutchinson has also optioned his book to Toronto’s Alliance Communications Corp. And rumors persist that a team of writers at The Globe and Mail, as well as an as-yet-unnamed heavyweight American writer may also be trying to mine the same vein. That has analysts wondering if the

market for the story will be so carved up that no one will make much money. Carol Toller, news editor of the publishing industry bible Quill & Quire, says the readership for the story behind the conviction of sex killer Paul Bernardo was similarly split when three books appeared. Publishers have learned, she adds, that in a crowded field, the first book out will almost always do better. The race for gold is on.

Gay redemption

Even before its official release this week, No Previous Experience has created quite a buzz. Its author, after all, is Elspeth Cameron, a respected English professor at the University of Toronto and award-winning biographer, and it is not everyday that someone in her position is so forthright. Not only does Cameron, 54, describe in vivid detail how she fell in love with a woman—her lover is Janice Dickin, 50, another well-known academic (she teaches Canadian studies and law at the University of Calgary), with whom she now lives part time—but Cameron also writes about the disintegration of her troubled third marriage, to York University history professor Paul Lovejoy. An increasingly familiar tale of the times.

Cameron: from marital woe to lesbian love

Quebec illuminated

With its old-world charm, Quebec City has long been one of North America's top tourist destinations. But a project now under review may one day shed a whole new light on the city’s attractions. In late April, a delegation of seven officials from three levels of government, as well as from Hydro Quebec and Quebec’s National Capital Commission, spent a week in Lyon, France, studying its unique, $15-million urban lighting system. In the early 1980s, French architect Alain Guilhot devised a plan to illuminate more than 250 of the ancient city’s restored buildings and bridges on a rotating schedule with daylight-bright lights. According to at least one of the recently returned factfinders, Lyon’s nightly light show could—and should—be repeated in Quebec City. “We’re a northern city that’s dark by 4 p.m. in the winter,” says commission spokesman Denis Angers. “Imagine if we really lit up the streets, buildings and fortified walls in the old part of the city. It would add a completely new nocturnal charm.” It would also, Angers hopes, entice tourists to stay longer: “It’s very exciting to think about the possibilities.”

Passages

DIED: Bay Street financier and ph ii anthropist Andrew Sarlos, 65, of heart failure, in Toronto (page 50). Born in Budapest, Sarlos fled when Soviet tanks quashed Hungary's 1956 re bellion. Sarlos, who had an economics

degree from the University of Budapest,

arrived penniless in Saint John, N.B., in 1957, but soon landed a position with the engineering firm Bechtel Canada. Then, in 1970, as head of Acres Ltd.'s merchant banking group, he began making the strategic forays into stock markets for which he became famous. Striking out on his own in the early 1970s, Sarlos racked up $200 million through his investment company, HCI Holdings Ltd. It nearly went bankrupt in the 1982 recession, but undeterred, Sarlos paid his debts and rebuilt his fortune. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Sarlos founded the First Hungary Fund, a venture capital enterprise that is fuelling many Hungarian businesses.

RULED: That paranoid schizophrenic Jeffrey Arenburg, 40, was not criminally responsible for the 1995 shooting death of Ottawa sportscaster Brian Smith, 54; by an Ottawa court. Arenburg will undergo further assessment to determine sentencing.

RESIGNED: Montreal Canadiens coach Mario Tremblay, 40, three days after the New Jersey Devils eliminated his team from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

DIED: Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mike Roy ko, 64, of The Chicago Tribune-, after suffering an aneurysm, in Chicago.

RESIGNING: Justice Jules Deschênes,

73, from his 1993 judicial appointment to the United Nations’ International Tribunal on War Crimes in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda; for undisclosed health reasons.

AWARDED: The Commonwealth Writers best first book prize, to Canadian author Ann-Marie MacDonald, 38, for her best-seller, Fallon Your Knees-, in London.

SUSPENDED: Buffalo Sabres star goaltender Dominik Hasek, 32, for three games, by the NFHL, after Hasek attacked a Buffalo News reporter critical of his actions; in New York City.