Remember Bethune? Apparently not

It came as no surprise to me that Montreal has declared 2009 the year of homage to Norman Bethune, wrote former governor general Adrienne Clarkson in The Globe and Mail April 24. He is the best-known Canadian in the world.

Sometimes, people question this. But they shouldn’t: More than a billion Chinese know Bethune by his Chinese name, Bai Qiu En. But this most extraordinary of Canadians was not a native Montrealer; he spent only eight years there, from 1928 to 1936. He actually hails from Ontario, and his roots are in the Canadian Shield.

In 2001, as governor general, I inaugurated a life-size statue of Bethune offered by the Chinese in the main square of Gravenhurst. One looks in vain in Toronto for any noticeable public sign of him. There are a few small plaques in foyers, the Bethune Round Table on International Surgery, Bethune College at York University. So where’s the statue, the bust, the square or the street to acknowledge that Bethune graduated in medicine from the U of T? Or that he worked in the lumber camps for Frontier College, or that he lived at 19 Harbord St. or that, in 1937, he spoke to 3,000 people at Massey Hall?

Adrienne Clarkson is the author of Norman Bethune, which has just appeared in Penguin Canada’s Extraordinary Canadians series, wrote the Globe.

More tales from the beach

Rachel Bell, a 23-year-old teacher candidate at York University, seems to have her head on straight, wrote the Toronto Star April 24 in a story about responses to an article on The Beach area of Toronto. "I see too many of my female students prioritizing their beauty and body above all else, showing little or no concern for their academic and vocational future…. Articles like yours force us to ask some really important questions. Why do we value body image so much? Why is it that when I see a woman who is prettier or skinnier than I am, I wish I could look like her, but when I hear a brilliant woman speak, I do not wish I could be as smart as her? Why don’t I envy a funny woman in the same way I envy a woman with better hair than mine?"

Former York Lions moonlight from their CFL jobs

As an undrafted running back out of York University, Jeff Johnson (BA Spec. Hons. ’02) overcame long odds to make it in the CFL, wrote The Globe and Mail April 24 in a story that featured two former members of the York Lions football team who now play for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. So the Argonaut veteran isn’t at all intimidated by trying to launch a real estate career in the midst of a market downturn. "You have to work for what you get," says Johnson, 32, who majored in kinesiology in York’s Faculty of Health. "For a lot of realtors starting out, business would just come to them, and now they’re struggling. I’m getting a good groundwork laid to allow me to have success."

Argo running back Andre Durie grew up watching his mother, Melva, making a difference in the lives of others through her work – first with young offenders, and later with developmentally challenged children.

So when Durie’s own son, Malcolm, was diagnosed with autism, his mother’s work resonated even more for the Toronto Argonaut running back. "I saw the difference my mother made in people’s lives," says Durie, who majored in sociology at York University. "My son having a developmental disability is one of the things that got me interested in working with developmentally challenged people, to help them in their lives."

Brain wave: Doll exhibit is both eerie, thought-provoking

We’re all familiar with the stereotype – men are cerebral, rational and logical; women are visceral, emotional and intuitive, wrote the Waterloo Region Record April 24. Toronto artist Allyson Mitchell, who doubles as a professor in the School of Women’s Studies at York University, will have none of it.

For verification, check out Brain Child, a mixed-media installation on view through May 10 at the North Square branch of Cambridge Galleries. The installation features more than 100 ceramic dolls (between 15 and 60 centimetres tall) placed on the floor in two identical spiral patterns that mirror one another like a pair of earrings…marching in single file toward a large fabric brain constructed from wicker, afghan throws and macramé. These are brainy babes.

Mitchell has great fun turning inside out such conventional domestic hobby crafts as macramé and ceramics which are generally associated with women – specifically housewives and mothers.

The dolls never completely shed their skin of naive kitsch. But look closely and they seem unusually foreboding, maybe even menacing. These are dolls with whom you don’t fool around. Witty, whimsical and richly satirical, Brain Child challenges prescribed notions of femininity, identity and sexuality.

Fans of the Wayzgoose fair met at York

From longtime exhibitor Alan Stein to newcomer Maaike Bouhuyzen-Wenger, it’s the same glue that binds both artists and visitors to Wayzgoose – a love of the art of making books, wrote the Milton Canadian Champion April 23 in a story about the event on April 25 at the Grimsby Public Art Gallery.

Stein, of The Church Street Press in Parry Sound, and Bouhuyzen-Wenger, of the Toronto-based inPrint Collective & Studio, a group of friends who met in the York University printmaking studio and remain passionate and committed to the field of printmaking, both studied letterpress printing under Wayzgoose founder Bill Poole at the Poole Hall Press.