Greek Wedding star proud of her York grad sister

In a Maclean’s interview published in the April 12 issue, Nia Vardalos, writer and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding talked about how proud her family is of her and each other. “My sister [Marianne Vardalos] got her doctorate in sociology this year from York University, and it’s as if we all got it,” said Nia. “We’re so proud of her it’s ridiculous.” Marianne graduates in June.

Life beyond the two solitudes

Sixty years ago, Hugh MacLennan borrowed the words “Two Solitudes” to portray a Montreal divided by language and culture. After only a year in the town MacLennan called “this covetous, bawdy, exciting place,” Agnès Whitfield is hard pressed to say whether all the barriers have been bridged, reported the Montreal Gazette April 7. Still, Whitfield, a poet, novelist, translator and York University professor, who has been a visiting Chair in Canadian Studies at McGill University this year, sees great progress in the way Canada’s literary and cultural strains have become intertwined in the decades since MacLennan wrote that landmark novel.

We’ve come a long distance, she says, from the postwar colonial Canada, when the best novelists such as MacLennan and Gabrielle Roy could hope for was to find a US or European publisher. Two Solitudes had been translated into several languages, including Czech, before its first French translation was published – in France, in 1963. In that era before federal translation programs were created, Whitfield said, perhaps 15 Canadian novels were available in both of Canada’s official languages.

Whitfield, whose translation of Gagnon’s Venite a cantare (Divine Diva) was short-listed for a Governor-General’s award, juggled classes in both French and English during her year in McGill. She said MacLennan’s Two Solitudes has taken on a kind of mythic status for Canadians. “It’s one of those books that exist, but people don’t go out and read it anymore.” Yet she said his book deserves to be a pillar of Canadian literature, for MacLennan was among the very first of our novelists to attempt to depict “the other” community to his readers.

Prof adds voice to save ‘gem’ of a church

St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church at Kinkora is a “gem” that must be preserved, says a professor of Canadian architectural history at York University, reported the Stratford Beacon-Herald April 6. “Nowhere in Canada is there something quite so magnificent for such a small community,” Malcolm Thurlby said from his home in Brantford. “It’s a gem, it’s an absolute gem. It has to be saved at all costs.” The professor is an expert in the work of Irish-Canadian architect Joseph Connolly, who designed St. Patrick’s with many strong styling cues to the rural congregation’s Irish roots. “It’s transporting a piece of Ireland into the new world,” he said. The task of preserving a church is difficult for small communities like Kinkora without government help, he acknowledged.

On air

  • Fred Lazar, airlines expert and economics professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, commented on the opening and cost of a new terminal at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, in an item aired on CBC TV’s “Canada Now” and CBC Newsworld’s “Newsworld Today” and on “CBC Radio’s “Ontario Morning” April 6.
  • The McGuinty government is putting $3.5 million back into the system to provide aid to abused women and children, reported CFTR-AM’s “680 News” in Toronto April 6. The funding comes a day after York University research concluded that some women did indeed stay in abusive relationship because they could not afford to leave. The report itself continued to get regional coverage in Ontario newspapers and on radio and TV news programs such as Peterborough’s CHEX-TV.