Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Tanaya Davies September 6 1999
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Tanaya Davies September 6 1999

Opening Notes

Tanaya Davies

Rising to the heights in Canadian country

There is typically a preponderance of denim and cowboy boots and hats at the Canadian Country Music Awards—but no matter what Amanda Wilkinson wears on Sept. 13 for the live broadcast of the Ottawa event, it will be an improvement over her past attire. “We have been watching these awards at home for years, wearing flannel pyjamas and eating popcorn,” says the 17-year-old, one-third of the Wilkinsons, a family trio from Trenton, Ont., nominated for the first time this year. “All I know is that it wont be flannel and I will be

eating shrimp cocktail!” The Wilkinsons, including Amandas brother, Tyler, and father, Steve, have been nominated for six awards, joining the other multiple nominees, Shania Twain, Terri Clark, Paul Brandt and Prairie Oyster, as the best bets for winning at least one prize. “It is so bizarre to be placed at the same level as Shania,” says Amanda, who has met the international superstar and enjoys the fact that the two are almost the same height: five feet, two inches. “She is a Canadian icon—and as vertically challenged as I am.”

A ‘loved’ label

In the 1960s, pop artist Andy Warhol painted portraits of the standard redand-white Campbells Soup label, turning it into a cultural icon. And while the paintings became collector items after Warhols death in 1987, they might be-

come even more valuable now that the Camden, N.J.-based Campbell Soup Co. has decided to update the label. “The design is much loved,” admits Old can (left) and new

Lisa Zakrajsek, vice-president of the soup division. “But we felt there was

a wonderful opportunity to update it and refresh it.” Changes to the 101-year-old design include a colour photo of a bowl of soup and a banner proclaiming the category of soup contained in the can. The new labels will be on store shelves in late October. “M’m! M’m! Good!”

Dion scores with Rocket tribute

Celine Dion is used to recording her golden voice while singing, not talking—but that has changed thanks to French-Canadian hockey hero Maurice Richard. The Québécois chanteuse has narrated a docudrama on the life and times of Richard. A fan of the hockey legend, Dion donned a Canadiens jersey bearing his famous number 9, and saluted him in the

crowd during a concert in Montreal last December. The director of the mini-series, Robert Scully, who works out of Montreal and New York City, knew that Dion would be ideal for the show. Adding poignancy to the moment, Richard was diagnosed with inoperable cancer of the abdomen two years ago, but is keeping the disease at bay with prescription drugs. “Maurice Richard, an emblem of French-

Canadians,” says Scully, “is passing the torch to Celine Dion, who has become that emblem now.”

Scully travelled to Palm Beach, Fla., where the singer and her husband and manager, René Angélil, live, to do the recording. Dion impressed Scully and the sound crew by recording eighthours of narration—four for the French version and another four for a distinct English version—in one day, a third of the time it normally takes professional actors.

The television special, The Maurice “Rocket” Richard Story—which will air in French in November and in English next fall—consists of archival film, testimonials and dramatizations (Quebec actor Roy Dupuis, of Nikita fame, plays Richard as a young adult). Richard’s many fans—some legends in their own right, including Wayne Gretzky and Senator Hartland Molson—pay tribute to the star in the docudrama. And Prince Philip, a longtime fan of the Rocket, has written the foreword to a companion book, to be published next fall. Scully, who has worked on the project for three years, considers Richard a national treasure. “Rocket, to many people around the world, is the greatest living Canadian,” he says. “But he’s a reluctant hero, which is what makes him so great.”


A bricks and mortar Web site

Homeowners considering renovations and other improvements can now let their fingers do the walking over a computer keyboard, instead of the Yellow Pages. Paul Dutton describes his company’s free Web site——as a combination of phone book and encyclopedia for the home renovator. The site provides listings, names, addresses and phone numbers of 5,000 companies— who pay to be listed—in Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area that can help a person buy or sell a home, decorate, acquire appliances, furniture and other household goods, and landscape and maintain their property. The site also con-

tains the equivalent of 12,000 pages of doit-yourself helpful tips and information.

Based in Toronto, Dutton and his partner, Max Hahne, launched the Web site in January, 1998, but redesigned it last May after Pickering, Ont.-based Simmonds Capital, a financing firm, bought their company. They have since embarked on a $1-million billboard and radio advertising campaign, and are planning a major expansion. By next April, they aim to add listings for 20 other Canadian and U.S. cities. And they will include a new e-commerce service that will allow people to buy household items, everything from paint to drills to fridges, directly through the Web site. But consumers may find they still have to go through the old-fashioned phone book, since listings in some service categories are limited, and information about the contractors is scanty.


The 20-second airport check-in

Starting this week, Air Canada hopes to make life a little easier for frequent flyers travelling from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to Montreal and Ottawa with its new Express Check-In Kiosks. The machines, similar to automated tellers, allow a person with a prepurchased ticket to check in and receive a boarding pass in as little as 20 seconds (depending on the

length of the lineup). Users can also select their seats, check for standby flights or upgrade from economy to business class. Luggage can be checked in at a special counter located near the kiosks. Kiosk project manager Yvan Corriveau says the machines should reduce long lineups for business travellers, who are frequendy scurrying to catch their flights at the last minute.

Since last November, Air Canada has installed 10 kiosks on a trial basis at Ottawa’s Macdonald-Cartier International Airport. Now, up to 15 per cent of the airline’s customers travelling to Montreal and Toronto are using them consistently. Initially, travellers will receive 500 free Aeroplan points per round trip for using the kiosks. The airline plans to install the time-saving devices at all major Canadian airports during the next two years.


The life of Leacock

Stephen Leacock was not only a writer, he was also a teacher, farmer and devoted family man. That much is strikingly evident from the collection of images in The Stephen Leacock Picture Book (Dundurn Press).

Compiled by Daphne Mainprize, curator of the Orillia, Ont.-based Leacock Museum, and museum board member James A. McGarvey, the photos follow Leacock from his birthplace in Hampshire, England, to McGill University, where he was a student and teacher, and finally to his country home in Orillia. Most of the family pictures have never been published before, and the rest are portraits by Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh, who spent three days recording the writers life in 1941.