Opening Notes

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS August 11 1997
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS August 11 1997

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS

McBean's high hopes

Marnie McBean thought climbing the Olympic victory podium was a high. Now the gold-medal rower is about to experience a different kind of altitude. Toronto-based McBean is one of 15 members of an expedition to the Quajon Fjord in southeastern Baffin Island. Expedition Inspiration has two goals: the first is to climb as many unsealed peaks as possible between Aug. 2 and 11. The second is to raise $300,000 for three charities, Kids Help Phone, the Canadian Whale Institute and Grenville Christian College. “When I was approached by Kids Help Phone to join the expedition, I knew I had to take it,” says McBean, 29, who adds that she has never even camped before, let alone climbed a mountain. “It is an opportunity of a lifetime.” What McBean lacks in experience, a fellow climber, Texas financier and oilman Dick Bass, more than makes up for: Bass is the first person to conquer the world’s seven tallest summits, and in 1985, at age 55, became the oldest man to climb Mount Everest. Besides trying to keep up with Bass, what does McBean think the biggest challenge of scaling the 1,500-to 1,800-m peaks will be? “Fatigue might be a problem,” she says. “I am not used to walking all day with a pack. Though right now,” she adds, laughing, “the battle is breaking in my hiking boots.”

A Viking voyage

Newfoundland, it seems, is the destination of choice this year for those intent on reliving the European discovery of the New World. As the Matthew—a replica of the ship that took explorer John Cabot from Bristol, England, to Canada’s easternmost shores 500 years ago—nears the end of its 17-port tour of the island, another vessel marking an even earlier adventure is slowly making its way to Newfoundland. On July 16, a 12-member crew, headed by American travel writer W. Hodding Carter, 34, departed from the fjords of southern Greenland in a bid to retrace Leif Ericsson’s voyage nearly 1,000 years ago. Travelling in a replica of a 16-m Viking ship known as a knarr, the sailors are following Ericsson’s presumed 2,900-km route from Greenland to L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland. Landfall on Sept. 1 should be much lower-key than the hoopla that greeted the Matthew when it arrived in Bonavista, Nfld., on June 24. But don’t expect that to be the end of Viking nostalgia. The Newfoundland government recently put out a call for proposals on how best to celebrate the Viking millennium in the year 2000. It may just be the province’s chance to turn over a new Leif.

Rude and ruder

Sure, computers have a wide range of useful, educational and productivityenhancing applications. But what they really excel at is giving users an opportunity to kick butt. In fact, the blast-’em genre of computer games—from Duke Nukem to Quake—have consistently been among the most popular software titles on the market. But none compares with Redneck Rampage, a recent CD-ROM game that descends to unprecedented levels of mindlessness. In the game, players control one of two characters (Leonard or Bubba) as they search through Hickston, Ark., for their pig, Bessie. Now the game’s publisher, Interplay Productions of Irvine, Calif., is upping the vulgarity stakes with add-on software called the Cuss Pack—available through a secret Web site that Interplay will reveal only to adults who have sworn they are over 18. Boasts producer Bill Dugan: “Redneck was a pretty [expletive deleted] game to start with, and it is now far and away the most profane computer game in the history of mankind.” Yet another milestone for the digital age.

Welcoming the world

What started out 34 years ago as a fun way to teach their five children geography has turned one Quebec couple into unofficial goodwill ambassadors for Canada.

When the children were little, Delphis and Monique Duhamel spent summer vacations at their cottage | on Cap Charles, a peak of high land 3 that juts into the St. Lawrence Riv| er about 85 km west of Quebec 2 City. The family began to record ¿ the port names of the vessels pass§ ing by and plot them on a map. *

Next, the Duhamels erected a 1 flagpole to salute the ships with national flags and international code pennants. Then, in the early 1970s, they installed a massive speaker system to play each ship’s national anthem. In all, they have saluted more than 60,000 ships. The hobby has also made Cap Charles, where the couple now lives year-round, a popular destination for mariners from around the world. “Sailors love it,” says river pilot Carol Noël. He adds that some sailors who have spent months at sea start to cry when they hear their national anthem. For the Duhamels, that reaction— and the many letters and gifts they have received from ship crews—is ample reward for their efforts. “Being on a ship at sea can be very lonely,” says Monique Duhamel, 66, “so it’s nice for them to see that somebody cares.”

Picture of Quebec

When a journalist from a Montreal crime tabloid took a picture of a woman outside a Longueil, Que., courtroom in 1995, he set in motion a process that illustrates once again the province’s distinct nature. Denise Thomas slapped Photo Police with a lawsuit for taking her photograph beside her boyfriend, who faced 20 charges of disturbing the peace by distributing nude photos of himself. Thomas claimed the tabloid shot invaded her right to privacy. In a recent ruling, the Quebec court judge agreed and awarded her $24,900 in damages. Brian Rogers, a Toronto lawyer whose clients include a number of Southam newspapers, believes that outside Quebec the woman would have been out of luck. “Quebec is unique in Canada for the protection it gives to privacy,” he says. (There is no specific protection for privacy in the federal charter.) If the decision, which is under appeal, is upheld, it “will have a major impact on any national media that go into Quebec,” says lawyer Stuart Robertson, who represents The Canadian Press. For that reason, the media are also eagerly awaiting a Supreme Court of Canada review in late fall of another controversial Quebec court judgment. The now-defunct magazine Vice-Versa and a photographer were ordered in 1991 to pay Pascale Claude Aubry $2,000 in damages for taking and printing a photo of her sitting on a doorstep without her knowledge. Distinct rulings for Quebec’s media.