York governor named as Chair of National Arts Centre

Julia Foster, one of Toronto’s most prominent blue-chip arts activists, has been appointed Chair of the National Arts Centre, reported The Ottawa Citizen July 11. Foster is currently on the board of governors of Toronto’s York University and is Chair of the Advisory Council for York’s Faculty of Fine Arts. She is also a member of the public affairs committee for the Art Gallery of Ontario and a director of both the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund and Bata Shoe Museum.

Previously, Foster chaired the Stratford Festival, sat on the board of the Shaw Festival and was an executive committee member of the Toronto International Film Festival. NAC president Peter Herrndorf said Foster will bring “a great lustre” to the federal institution. “I am personally excited about working with Julia Foster, having known her for many years and having admired her extraordinary achievements with a number of Canadian arts organizations,” Herrndorf said.

Asylum inmates contributed more than ‘ghostly’ presence, says Reaume

Writing in response to an article about the grounds of the old Mimico Lunatic Asylum in Toronto, Geoffrey Reaume, professor of critical disability studies in York’s School of Health Policy & Management, Faculty of Health, wrote a letter to the editor in the Toronto Star July 11 explaining why the grounds are structured as they are. It is because male asylum patient labourers were put to work over two years in the mid-1890s levelling this ground, 150 yards across, to make it into an oval playing field which people use to this day, Reaume explained. This is just one of many aspects of this history that people need to know about – the enormous amount of unpaid labour that male and female asylum patients did at Mimico and other provincial asylums during this period and which should have been mentioned in this article.

The very buildings staff and students work in today were built and maintained with the “free” labour of asylum inmates, from the so-called “cottages” to the storage facilities, sidewalks and the assembly hall that community groups now enjoy – all built by unpaid psychiatric patient labour. There were even “subway workers” at Mimico asylum, patients who toiled in the underground tunnels moving items between buildings and repairing leaks.

One way of honouring the memory of these patients is to move beyond stories of ghostly apparitions that keeps asylum inmates as unknowable, “other-worldly” figures and instead acknowledge their very concrete contributions in unpaid labour which later generations now benefit from.

Professor emeritus follows through on police name tag issue 

All Toronto police officers will be required to wear name badges by the end of the year, a move strongly opposed by the union, which says it could jeopardize the safety of officers and their families, reported the Toronto Star and The Toronto Sun July 11. After reviewing an internal report that concluded there is no direct link between name tags and security threats, the Toronto Police Services Board voted unanimously to direct Chief Bill Blair to make them mandatory by Dec. 31, 2006. York University Professor Emeritus Harvey Simmons, who has appeared before the board on the issue, was back again saying how he had personally contacted 10 police services in other cities, including many considered more dangerous than Toronto, and found no examples where name tags put officers at greater risk. “It’s about time the Toronto Police Services Board had the guts to stand up to the Toronto Police Association,” said Simmons, a political scientist in the Faculty of Arts.

 Middleton doubts value of new advertising firm’s global appeal

Research by 13 partner advertising agencies in a new venture designed to give clients access to international media suggests that marketers are concerned that consolidation among multinational media firms is reducing choice and leading to a lower quality of service, said The Globe & Mail July 11. But Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, was skeptical about the new company’s potential. He said many clients say they want the best of both worlds – independent agencies with global heft – but don’t have the capacity to make such relationships work. “I think it’s of much more minor benefit in reality than it seems to be,” he said. “It’s not that it’s unappealing, it’s just that the journey to get to a point of benefit for their clients is longer and tougher than they think it is. Lots of clients say this is what they want. It’s absolutely amazing how few, when it comes to execution, actually want it.”

York professor organizing gathering of antique-bicycle enthusiasts

The Wheelmen antique-bicycle club is holding its annual meet in Waterloo, July 11-16 in conjunction with the International Veteran Cycle Association, reported The Record (Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo) July 11. About 150 antique-bicycle enthusiasts from Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand will be dressed in traditional clothing and riding around on bikes that date back to the 1800s. Glen Norcliffe, geography professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, is a member of the club and is helping to organize The Wheelmen’s meet. Many of the bicycles people will see around town this week have the large front wheel and small back wheel, he said. They are sometimes called penny farthings, and Norcliffe said they weren’t made after 1890. “You will see 100 of them at least,” said Norcliffe. “And you will never see anything like that again.”

Beach volleyball pair learn from Lions coach

Amanda Cowdrey and Vivian Chan of Scarborough will represent Canada at the under-19 world beach volleyball championships in Bermuda in September, reported the Brampton Guardian July 9. The two have been training together a couple of days a week during the winter at Beach Blast, an indoor beach facility in Toronto, under the direction of their coach Hernan Humana, a lecturer in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Sciences, Faculty of Health, and head coach of the Lions women’s volleyball team. The training has paid off as they won their first three tournaments of the season.

Golf tournament named after former Lions football coach

Losing someone you love is never easy. New Tecumseth Councillor Betty Aldridge knows that first hand. But she’s turned the death of her husband Dick into a new passion in her life, by organizing a golf tournament in his name, reported the Alliston Herald July 5. Dick Aldridge died in 2004 at the age of 63 of pancreatic cancer. He was always into sports, playing for 10 years with the Toronto Argonauts, coaching students in football at York University (1976-1977), and as a phys. ed. teacher and football coach at Banting Memorial High School.