Mariposa archives are safe, says Orillia paper

Five decades of lore from Canada’s most fabled folk festival has found a resting place for safekeeping, education and research at York University, wrote the Orillia Packet and Times June 6. The donated recordings, documents and images from the Mariposa Folk Festival, whose birthplace was Orillia in 1961, will be kept in a properly controlled environment at the University’s Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections in Scott Library.

"This is an opportunity to see this material preserved and…made accessible," Michael Moir, YoUniversity archivist, told a crowd of folkies and professors during a ceremony at the library on June 6.

Hailed as the greatest Canadian folk collection, the materials, including photographs, audition tapes, programs, contracts, posters, programs and T-shirts, have been valued at more than $1.5 million. "There’s not really one single document. It’s when you look at it in its entirety," Moir told the Packet & Times. "Together, you have this collective understanding of what the festival meant to Canadian society."

York already had more than 1,000 photographs of the festival from the Toronto Telegram, whose images found a place in York’s archives three years after the newspaper folded in 1974.

Orillia’s folk tradition played a key role in a Canadian musical scene that started to explode in the 1950s and 1960s, said Phillip Silver, dean of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts. "I don’t think there has been anything like Mariposa in Canadian music," Silver said.

There are still pieces of the Mariposa mosaic in private hands. Chris Lusty, president of the Mariposa Folk Foundation, is encouraging those with historic materials to hand them over to York. "Get this stuff into a good, safe place where scholars and students can look at it for years to come," Lusty said.

Griffin prize awarded

Don McKay and Charles Wright were awarded the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prizes Wednesday at a lavish Toronto ceremony that attracted a who’s who of Canadian literary icons, wrote Canadian Press June 7. The $100,000 award, worth $50,000 each to a Canadian and an international recipient, is among the most lucrative poetry prizes in the world.

Other Canadians shortlisted for this year’s Griffin prize included York University Professor Priscila Uppal. The judges, John Burnside, Charles Simic and Karen Solie, received a landmark 483 books of poetry, including 18 translations, from 15 countries.

  • Broadcast News and CanWest News Service also reported that Uppal was shortlisted for the prize.
  • Uppal spoke about her poetry and her Griffin prize nomination, on CBC’s Radio Canada International June 6.

Osgoode professor’s testimony at Black trial makes tax law ‘almost interesting’

Too bad The Donald was a no-show. But Conrad Black, on trial in Chicago for fraud, got a boost this week from a far less glamorous personage – a cheery, middle-aged professor named Jinyan Li, wrote columnist Margaret Wente in The Globe and Mail June 6. She was a brilliant witness for the defence, not least because she can make tax law almost interesting. In terms that any 12-year-old could grasp, she pretty well demolished the prosecution’s argument that certain non-compete payments made as part of the CanWest sale stank like Limburger cheese.

The jurors paid very close attention to Li, a tax expert at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. Several of them scribbled notes as she walked them through the finer points of Canadian tax-law precedent. They kept scribbling as she drew a diagram with arrows on a flip chart. This is great news for Conrad. It means that, as the trial staggers to a close, they are very far from believing that he’s guilty, guilty, guilty.

The CanWest deal has been front and centre in this trial. The prosecution is alleging that two of the non-compete payments that formed part of the deal don’t pass the smell test…. It’s clear they were really bonuses. Calling them non-competes was a way to make them tax-free. Sounds fishy – until Li said that, in Canada, such practices are not only common but A-OK.

Production makes for a high-school reunion

Former students of Penticton, BC’s Princess Margaret Secondary School will be taking some pointers from another Maggie graduate in a new theatre production at that city’s Okanagan Stage, wrote Penticton Western News June 6. Shannon Cote, who has taught at York University and performed as a backup dancer to Paul McCartney and Gregory Heinz, is choreographer for the ’60s-based musical Suds which opens June 9 and runs through Sept. 2.

On air

  • Paul Grayson, professor in York’s Atkinson School of Social Studies, spoke about neighbourhood complaints in Surrey, BC, against convicted rapist Paul Callow and the line between angry protest and violent action, on CBC Radio’s afternoon show in Vancouver, June 6.
  • Irena Knezevic, a doctoral candidate in the York-Ryerson Joint Graduate Program in Communication & Culture, spoke about the impact of big retailers on the organic food industry, on Report on Business Television’s “Squeezeplay”, June 6.