Their names open doors— but are also the lofty measure by which they are judged
CATCHING THE TORCH
Their names open doors— but are also the lofty measure by which they are judged
On the surface, they have it easy. Born to wealth or with the benefit of a distinguished name, it appears from a distance that the sons and daughters of the rich or famous have their tickets already written. But inheritance carries its own burdens. Imagine, for a moment, the outlandish expectations for Brett Hull when he laced on skates as a boy, or for Daniel Richler when he began to write and publish. “Greatness of name in the father ofttimes overwhelms the son,” wrote the Jacobean playwright Ben
Jonson, and the shadow of a parent’s legacy can indeed discourage their children before they even begin. Failure—if it comes—is seldom private, shared instead with a curious and rarely sympathetic public.
Yet many sons and daughters still follow the footsteps. Call it a sense of obligation, but a spirit still tugs at them. “I had to join,” 25-year-old Jason Schreyer says of his decision to run for the NDP, which his father, Edward, led to power in Manitoba in the 1970s. “It was a personal call to arms.” And their paths are not always paved. Retail magnate Wilfred Posluns told his daughter, Lynn, she had to cut her teeth on the shop floor. ‘The executive offices were open to everyone but me,” she recalls. Now, she runs her own chain of stores.
The boy was just 11 years old when his father, Formula One racing star Gilles Villeneuve, was killed in a horrific car wreck in Belgium during the 1982 grand prix. But he is living the legacy: last month, Jacques Villeneuve, now 22, raced to victory in Montreal on the track that bears his father’s name. Villeneuve, who was born in Berthierville, Que., and raised in Monaco, says that he has few memories of his famous father, who was often away from home on the international race circuit. But he did inherit a fundamental family trait—the desire to travel as fast as steel and rubber will allow. “I like speed and danger,” says Villeneuve. “I like to go to the edge.”
NOAH and DANIEL RICHLER
ike his father Mordecai, Canada’s most celebrated satirist, Noah Richler felt that he had to leave his native Quebec—and Canada—to achieve his goals. “I knew I had to make it in either New York City or London,” recalls Richler, 32, who now produces acclaimed radio documentaries for the British Broadcasting Corp. While he was establishing his career in London, his brother, Daniel, 36, was carving out a reputation in Toronto, both as a broadcast journalist
and as the author of the novel Kicking Tomorrow. Noah, who grew up in Montreal, is currently working on a project that will take him around the world, and Daniel is in the process of writing a second book. But neither brother is willing to discuss their works in progress. “It’s bad karma to discuss these things,” says Daniel. “My dad talks about his stuff less than I do. He just gets stuff done.” And so, it seems, do his sons.
PIERRE ALAIN DUPUY
His grandfather Pierre was a key organizer of Expo 67, and his father, Michel, was ambassador to France and to the United Nations. Now, through his Monacobased Event Management Corp., Pierre Alain Dupuy, 35, is combining his grandfather’s marketing flair and his father’s diplomacy to stage international events.
His biggest achievement yet should come in June, 1994, when his pan-European conference on water quality will be held in Monaco. And Dupuy wants to turn Monaco into an international centre for environmental talks. ‘Water,” says Dupuy, “is going to be a terrible problem in the next 10 years.”
They exchange fire over the constitutional barricades that have divided Quebec for decades. Nationalist Quebecers have long looked to University of Laval political science professor Leon Dion for critiques of federal constitutional initiatives. But his federalist son, 37-year-old Stephane Dion, who teaches the same subject at the University of Montreal, routinely defies his influential father by taking a more conciliatory tone. While many Quebecers have stood by amused, Stephane Dion insists that ultimately not even different visions of Canada can split the family. “I love my father,” he says simply.
The New York City-based Ford Foundation spends nearly $300 million each year supporting science and the humanities around the world. But until two years ago, that did not include the former Communist Bloc countries of Eastern Europe. Now, with the Foundation’s resources in demand, Montreal native Joseph Schuil, 32—the son of Canadian writer and historian Joe Schuil and broadcaster Helene Gougeon—is a point man in Ford’s move into the former Soviet Bloc. “The needs are enormous,” said Schuil. The group has funded a number of projects so far, including developing a new system of justice in Russia. But Schuil (who this month will marry litigation lawyer Anna Yang of Montreal) says that he is careful to avoid political entanglements. “We are not exporting Western values,” says Schuil. ‘We are there to support them in working out their own problems.”
It is entirely fitting that Hugh Allan (Buddy) MacMaster, the dean of Cape Breton fiddlers, handed Natalie MacMaster her first fiddle back in 1982. After all, following in her uncle’s footsteps has helped make Natalie, now 21, one of the brightest young stars in Cape Breton’s vibrant traditional music scene. She has made two recordings of traditional Cape Breton music and a third, Fit as a Fiddle, will be released next month. And MacMaster is determined to remain true to her roots. “My first love is Cape Breton fiddling,” says the native of Troy, N.S., “and that’s where I always want to stay focused.”
JIM IRVING JR. and ANDRE and PAUL DESMARAIS
The problem of succession plagues many of the country’s richest families. Take Montreal’s powerful Desmarais clan and the Irvings of Saint John, N.B. Currently, Paul Desmarais Jr. and his brother André are advancing to the head of the Power Corp. of Canada—the firm owned by their father, Paul. Paul Jr., 39, is now running Power Financial Corp., while André, 36, operates the more glamorous media divisions, including Montreal’s La Presse newspaper. Likewise, K, C.
Irving, who died last December at 93, made sure that his three sons knew everything there was to learn about his multibillion-dollar empire, which includes forestry, energy and shipbuilding. And now that his sons are nearing retirement age, his grandson, 43-year-old Jim Jr., is emerging as the leading candidate to take over. “My grandfather started this program,” says Jim Irving. “My father believes in it, I believe in it.”
The father used razor-sharp oratory to drive home his political points. The son uses his guitar.
Avi Lewis, the 26-year-old son of Stephen Lewis—the former leader of the Ontario NDP and former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations—has been a reporter for Torontobased CITY TV for the past four years. But at night, Lewis, a Toronto native, and his band, th Rythym & News, belt out rock songs that are rife with political satire. And CITY TV’s sister operation MuchMusic took advantage of Lewis’s political insights last month when he reported live from the Tory leadership convention in Ottawa. “MuchMusic has a pipeline to young people,” says Lewis,
“and we have a responsibility to cover the issues of the day.”
SPORTS FRANCHISE OWNER
Arthur Griffiths could have been introduced quietly to the family business. But the Griffiths family of Vancouver, which controls the largest group of private television and radio stations in Canada, also owns the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, so anonymity was out of the question. In fact, in 1982, the year young Griffiths took over the Canucks, the team went to the Stanley Cup final. Now 36, he is spearheading construction of a new 20,000-seat arena that will etch his name firmly in the family business. Still, Griffiths insists that he will always be dwarfed by the achievements of his father, Frank. “I could never have accomplished what he did,” he says. “And I do not want to try.”
The smart money said that she would never succeed. It was in 1989 that Lynn Posluns took over Fairweather, a troubled women’s apparel chain belonging to Dylex Ltd., the giant Toronto-based retailing empire owned by her father, Wilfred. “My father told me I would have to work harder and smarter than anyone else,” recalls the 35-year-old Posluns. She did, and quickly made her mark by catering not only to young women but to older career women, as well. Now, she is poised to conquer Quebec by launching new stores featuring even more fashionable fare. “You have to roll up your sleeves and get in there with the product,” says Posluns. “You have to be passionate.”
James Richardson, a tailor, often took grain in payment for his work. But in 1857, deciding that grain was more profitable than cutting cloth, he launched James Richardson & Sons—which, over the years, has produced bumper crops of cash. On April 16, Hartley Richardson, 38, became the latest family member to become president of the Winnipeg-based company, the source of one of Canada’s largest private fortunes. The firm now includes real estate, energy and securities. “The secret,” he says, “is that the company has stayed with its core businesses.”
The Berlin Wall came down. Communist regimes toppled like statues of Lenin, and the Soviet Union splintered into history. In 1991, Alison Gzowski of Toronto, the daughter of CBC broadcaster Peter Gzowski, went to Eastern Europe to see what young people there plan to do with their hard-won liberties. In Facing Freedom: The Children Of Eastern Europe, the 33-year-old author demonstrates that the young generation is politically astute. But she fears for their future, especially in Russia. “I would be more optimistic,” she says, “for the kids in Prague than the kids in St. Petersburg.”
n March, 1988, Manitoba’s NDP government was defeated by a nonconfidence vote. ■Soon after, as then-Premier Howard Pawley announced his resignation, Jason Schreyer—son of former Manitoba premier and governor general Edward Schreyer— decided that it was time to join the NDP. “Hie party was in trouble,” he recalls. Now 25, Schreyer will represent the party in the next federal election in the riding of Selkirk/Red River, which stretches from Winnipeg’s eastern suburbs to Lake Winnipeg. Jason’s father and grandfather Jake Schulz were both elected in the same area. While the family history will help, admits Schreyer, it also brings “expectations and obligations.”
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.