When Eleanor McCain was growing up in the farming community of Florenceville, N.B., her mother, Margaret, drove her around the province to perform at music competitions. At the performance, Margaret would accompany her daughter on the piano as she sang a favourite tune of theirs, the Scottish ballad Eriskay Love Lilt. “My mom was my biggest influence in music,” says McCain, 31. And her relationships with family and community have deeply influenced her recendy released debut CD, Intimate.
Though she no longer lives in New Brunswick (yes, she is a member of the frozen-food clan), McCain remains strongly connected to the East. “I tried to consciously bring in my roots in this CD,” she says. Not only are many of the songs chosen to reflect those roots—Green Hills of Home, for example, describes the landscape of Florenceville— but fellow Maritimer Natalie MacMaster also plays fiddle on the CD. McCain’s inspiration behind this project, however, came from another deep tie. The strength of her marriage to Greg David, says McCain, “has really gone into the depth and feeling of this album.”
Fifteen years have passed since McCain and her mother performed together at a music festival. However, on the last song of the album, the sound of a piano is clearly heard as Margaret accompanies McCain, once again, for Eriskay Love Lilt. Says McCain: “It’s a mother-daughter thing.”
Better off with the dead
Television actor Peter Krause goes over his résumé with some hesitation. “There were some jobs that I was more proud of than others,” he says. “I was much more proud of playing a neo-Nazi on Seinfeld, a Michael Flatley [Lord of the Dance] send-up on 3rd Rock from the Sun and an Anthony Robbins-like motivational speaker on The Drew Carey Show than I was appearing as a Republican on Beverly Hills, 90210!’
But in 1998 all the guest spots finally paid off for Krause, who has a masters of fine arts in drama from New York University, when he landed the role of Casey McCall on the critically acclaimed series, Sports Nightcreated by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing). At the time, Krause said, “a series like this one may only come along
once in a career.” But he was wrong. When Sports Night was cancelled after two seasons, Krause was offered a role in one of this year’s hot new series, Six Feet Under, which airs in Canada on The Movie Network and Movie Central. Created by Alan Ball, the Academy Award-winning writer of American Beauty, Six Feet Under is about a family coping with the death of their patriarch while trying to keep his funeral business afloat. And dead bodies, embalming fluid and hearses provide the laughs.
While TV lightning has seemingly struck the Minnesota-born actor twice, he still has his doubts about the medium. “When Six Feet is done,” says Krause, 34, “it will be pretty difficult for me to find something I want to do on TV again.”
WAR, ROMANCE AND WRITING
It’s hardly surprising that Richard Sharpe, the hero of British author Bernard Cornwell’s series of novels about the Napoleonic wars, is an orphan. So, too, is Cornwell, 57, the product of a Second World War romance between a married Englishwoman and an RCAF flight engineer. Cornwell was placed in an orphanage after his birth and adopted by a member of a strict fundamentalist church known as the Peculiar People. So strict, in fact, that the sect objected not only to alcohol and dancing but also to doctors (and as a result had been hit hard by a 1911 diphtheria epidemic).
From such unpromising beginnings, Cornwell has reached considerable literary heights. After breaking from the Peculiar
People at 18—the sea dwindled into extinction in the 1960s— he worked for the BBC for a decade before meeting his American wife, Judy. He followed her to the United States—they now live on Cape Cod in Massachusetts—and began to write. The prolific author has produced 34 novels, 18 of them in the popular Sharpe series, including his latest, Sharpes Prey. When on tours in Canada, Cornwell’s paternity is never far from his mind. (Years ago in Britain, he found his mother and spoke to her briefly without revealing his identity.) “I have a name,” Cornwell says of the 79-yearold Vancouverite he believes fathered him, “but he denies it.” For now, the author is content with that. “I hold no grudge,” he smiles, “I’m very grateful for my life.”
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