Opening Notes

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS July 7 1997
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS July 7 1997

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS

Chemistry at first sight

In Toronto social circles, the buzz last week centred on a Monte Carlo-based brunette who, on Aug. 23— only three months after a whirlwind transatlantic courtship—is set to marry the man billed as Canada’s most eligible bachelor: Bank of Montreal chairman Matthew Barrett. As tongues wagged about the statuesque charms of six-foot-tall Anne-Marie Sten, 42, who showed up on the Irish-born Barrett’s arm at an opening night party for Riverdance on June 12, The Globe and Mail described Sten as a mystery woman from Monaco. In fact, she is a Canadian, raised in Woodbridge, Ont, outside Toronto, who is familiar to Maclean’s readers from a December, 1980, story on Canada’s jet set. At 26, Sten was featured on the cover with one bare breast partially visible beneath her fur coat, talking about her luxurious Paris life as the girlfriend of Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. Ensconced in an eight-room apartment just off the Champs Elysées, Sten described her days and nights mingling with Saudi princes on the Riviera and skiing in Colorado with prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Since then, she has been married and divorced from a Swiss-based businessman,

and now lives in the tax haven of Monaco. But among the old friends she kept in touch with was one of Khashoggi’s longtime business partners, Toronto gold tycoon Peter Munk. On May 13, at a party to celebrate the opening of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the Toronto Hospital, where both Munk and Barrett serve as directors, Sten met the 52-year-old bank chief and, according to friends, it was chemistry at first sight. Barrett—recently divorced from his first wife, Irene, the mother of their four daughters—has told friends to prepare for a wedding in Toronto at a location yet to be announced. But Sten is unlikely to be awed by Barrett’s $3.9-million pay package. Even 17 years ago, she told Maclean’s, “I prefer to give than to receive.”

Taste not required

o mark the occasion this week when Britain hands its former colony of Hong Kong back to China, many Chinese provinces, foreign countries and corporations are giving the incoming Tung administration ceremonial gifts. Most are massive— and meaningful. Shenzhen province’s gift, a jade carving of a junk, is exactly 288 cm

tall, which in Chinese numerology means “Get rich quick.” According to one minion assigned to choose something on behalf of his company, the general requirement for gifts is that they be “large and in poor taste.” The offering from the Canadian community in Hong Kong, however, is not nearly so large. But those giving Canada-Hong Kong: It’s About People, a 110-page coffeetable book of new and historic photographs,

hope it is at least full of meaning. With text by Canadian writer Francis Bartlett in English and Chinese (but not French), it recounts Canada’s connection to the territory and its inhabitants, from the first migrations from the Pearl River delta to Canada a century ago, through the Canadian contribution to Hong Kong’s defence against the Japanese in the Second World War, on up to the close links of the present day.

Forlorn, forgotten

Hey, pay attention to me, is the latest whine from Greg Rusedski. The Montreal-born tennis player with dual citizenship chose to represent Britain in 1995, reasoning that he would enjoy quick riches as the best of a weak field of British players. But his new countrymen saved their enthusiasm for homegrown talent Tim Henman. Henman, 22, has surpassed Rusedski, 23, as Britain’s No. 1 and, despite an injury-plagued season, is still the darling of the British tennis world. So Rusedski let off some petulant steam after

a recent win at a Wimbledon warm-up tournament. ‘When I took up British citizenship two years ago, my run to the fourth round and my matchup against Pete Sampras meant I was the big hero,” Rusedski told the British press. But now, “when I reached the semis at Queen’s and Tim went out early, everyone was asking what was wrong with Tim instead of saying: ‘Isn’t Greg playing well.’ ” He continued: “I’ve still been playing great tennis—but that seems to have been neglected.” Just try to come back.

No holding back

Since April 1, when Dave Shannon set out from St. John’s, Nfld., on a cross-Canada tour to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities, he has endured snow, sleet and 60-km/h winds. The lowest point on the 3,500 km he has travelled so far came on June 14, when fatigue caused the 33-yearold, who was left a quadriplegic after a 1981 rugby accident, to steer his motorized wheelchair into a ditch east of Cobourg, Ont. Says Shannon, who broke four ribs in the mishap: “The chair’s titanium frame was completely twisted.” But that barely slowed him and his support team of three, let alone stopped the 9,000-km journey, which they hope to complete by November in Victoria. While the wheelchair he uses on the open road was being repaired, he used a second, slower chair provided by Invacare, one of his corporate sponsors, to attend functions all week in Toronto. Shannon, after all, has seldom let disability hold him back: the

Thunder Bay, Ont., native is an active lawyer. And he is eager to spread his message about overcoming life’s obstacles—which applies to everyone, he says, not just the 4.5 million Canadians who have obvious disabilities. “With a little help, we can all get past our barriers.”

Where the jobs are

How hot is the Calgary job market? So hot that some jobs are going begging.

The latest statistics show Calgary with a 6.4-per-cent unemployment rate, the lowest of the largest 25 metropolitan areas in Canada. “This is a very tight labor market, especially in skilled areas such as computer programmers,” notes Rudy Singer, a labor market analyst with the Calgary office of the federal government’s Human Resources Development. Not surprisingly, Calgary has become something of a magnet for those looking for work from across Canada. The latest civic census shows the city grew by 23,439 in the past year, a boom not seen since the early 1980s, boosting the population to 790,498. But rapid growth has a price. Everything from the public transit system to the city-owned golf courses are struggling to keep up with demand. Even Mayor AI Duerr is telling outsiders not to assume “the streets of Calgary are paved with gold.” At the current growth rate, the city will be hard-pressed to pave new streets with asphalt.