Opening NOTES

Opening NOTES

Opening NOTES

Opening NOTES


Opening NOTES


A message to the world

A message in a bottle: it’s an artifact more associated with stranded sailors than with students, but it has captured the imagination of francophone teens at Sacré Coeur school in Granby, Que. As part of their English instruction, learning disabled students in grades 8 and 9 stuffed messages into 150 bottles, then set them adrift on the Atlantic Ocean in May, 1997. “I told them not to expect a response in two weeks,” says teacher Louis D Amours, who created the project. In each plastic pop bottle, the 120 students included a composition in English about themselves and five questions for the bottle’s finder.

It took 10 months for their first response—all the way from Skaro, Denmark, approximately 2,600 km away. Then, last fall, a Bermudian man wrote to the students that finding a bottle with a message in it fulfilled a childhood dream. The latest reply arrived on March 22 from a 12-year-old Scottish girl who found the container near her home of Skaill on the Orkney Islands. But the most touching response came from closer to home, a letter from a woman in Peggys Cove, N.S., who found a bottle during the recovery effort after September’s Swissair tragedy, and called it a “terrific stress reliever.” D’Amours says the project has changed the students’ attitudes. “At the beginning of the year they always ask, ‘Why are we learning English?’ ” The bobbing bottles, he explains, have helped to answer that question, showing them that English is spoken around the world.


It took a titanic political battle to get Newfoundland into Confederation 50 years ago. So it seems fitting that politics permeated last week’s anniversary celebrations in St John’s. Newfoundland Premier Brian Tobin missed the March 31 gala because he was stuck in the House of Assembly debating back-to-work legislation to end a strike by provincial nurses.

That left Jodean Tobin, the premier’s wife, to escort Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to the gala celebration, where she sat between him and Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard, the only other First Minister to attend the event A Tobin spokeswoman said the other premiers were busy with government business. Bouchard, though, had his own reasons for being in St. John’s. In a speech, he declared that if 52-per-cent support for Confederation was good enough to bring Newfoundland into Canada, then a simple majority vote should be sufficient

for Quebecers to leave Confederation.

Chrétien used his speech to stress that Newfoundland’s decision to join Canada had no relation to Quebec’s situation. Tobin—who reportedly received a dressing-down from Chrétien in February for initially joining Bouchard in denouncing the federal budget —said in a news conference that the main lesson Quebec should take from Newfoundland’s experience is that “you can have a great love and passion for your country, but an equal love and passion for your own people and province.” Bouchard and Tobin later slipped away to discuss this week’s resumption of talks over the Lower Churchill Falls hydroelectric project Tobin, after all, called a February election after claiming he needed a strengthened mandate to negotiate resource development with Quebec. So, grabbing a few minutes during last week’s hustle and bustle was simply good politics.


The world’s 10 largest meteorite craters, with diameter in kilometres: 1. Vredefort, South Africa ...............250 2. Sudbury, Ont........................140 3. Manicouagan, Que...................100 3. Popigai, Russia......................100 5. Puchezh-Katunki, Russia ..............80 6. Kara, Russia..........................60 7. Siljan, Sweden........................52 8. Charlevoix, Que........................46 9. Araguainha Dome, Brazil...............40 10. Carswell, Sask.........................37 SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL UNION OF GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES COMMISSION ON COMPARATIVE PLANETOLOGY


If Canadians buy lottery tickets, they go for the big bucks. When 1,400 adults were asked if they played various types of lotteries, the majority replied that they buy Lotto 6/49 tickets, which often have a multimillion-dollar payoff. By percentage: TOTAL CANADA Lotto 6/49............................81 Instant Bingo..........................43 Instant Keno..........................24 DATA COLLECTED Coldl'arl) Consultants l imited




During the 1970s, Saskatchewan NDP premier Allan Blakeney— an expert on Prairie agricultural issues—was often seen by others as the epitome of his province. Ironically, the former Rhodes Scholar grew up in Nova Scotia. Now 73 and living in Saskatoon, Blakeney is head of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and sits on Algoma Steel’s board with former Ontario Conservative premier Bill Davis. “It’s fun talking about old times,” says Blakeney, recalling the con-

stitutional talks of the 1980s. “But we all look back through rose-tinted glasses.” Born in Bridgewater, N.S., Blakeney graduated with a law degree from Dalhousie University in 1947 before going on to Oxford University. He returned to Canada and became secretary of Crown Corporations for Saskatchewan. Elected to the provincial legislature, he was chosen party leader and in 1971 won the election. In 1982, his government was defeated, and five years later he left politics.

Married to his wife, Anne, for 40 years, Blakeney talks regularly with Premier, and fellow New Democrat, Roy Romanow, sometimes providing advice. “Don't forget,” jokes Blakeney. “I was once his boss.”


Y2K conception day

Want to celebrate the millennium with a Y2K baby? Well, according to fertility experts, April 9 is the best day to conceive a New Year’s Day, 2000, bundle of joy. In the spirit of lending a hand, certain radio stations across Canada have created conception contests, giving entrants free hotel rooms, love potions—and, in the case of Calgary’s CJAY 92, a whole week’s worth of attempts in exotic locales such as a hot-air balloon.

In Toronto, the 10 couples selected for Q107’s Y2K Con-

ception Day-The Breeder’s Cup Contest are getting dinner, sex toys and a free hotel room to help them on their way. Couples had to convince station hosts—the same people who put shock jock Howard Stern on Canadian airwaves—that they should be the lucky recipients. “A lot were saying that they were ovulating that day,” says promotion assistant Catherine Nicol, who adds that couples who do give birth on Jan. 1, will share $107,000. “It seems like everyone is ovulating on April 9.”

Gourmet food, Barbados-style

In his memoir Pig Taiis'n Breadfruit: Rituals of Slave Food {Random House), Toronto writer Austin Clarke reminisces about the food he ate and the ceremonies that went into making it, while growing up in Barbados. Each chapter is based on one of his favourite island recipes, including smoked ham hocks with lima beans and pelau.