Monday, November 20, 2017

The Stephen Leacock Re-Tour is winding down

Image from Athabasca University

On Sunday afternoon, Canadian Authors - Metro Vancouver hosted a special event at SFU Harbour Centre. We are most grateful for the support from The Writers Studio and Liberal Arts and 55+ in presenting Paul and Leslie Conway, the Voyageur Storytellers, as they passed through Vancouver on their Stephen Leacock Re-Tour, tracing the route of Canada's first great jokester with a variety of presentations on his work.

Once the best-known humourist in the English-speaking world, Stephen Leacock spoke several languages and worked as an economics professor at McGill University. According to Paul Conway, he rose daily at 5 to write. No doubt this explains his prodigious output: 53 books and 1500 or more articles, as well as many lecture tours in Canada, the US, and England.

We heard yesterday that audiences would start laughing the moment he came onstage, even when the subject of the lecture was meant to be serious. The man whose sales were once the sole support of his publisher had much to say about the human condition, some of which continues to resonate. His early books were the funniest; as his life progressed through two world wars and the Great Depression that came between them, his comedy took on an increasingly dark double entendre. Even though certain of his views are problematic, he proposed a number of progressive social ideas that later became part of the Canada we know today. 

On his blog, Paul Conway sums up thus:

I…completely reject Stephen Leacock’s ideas on race, and [see] his views on women as amusing anachronisms…But I love the quality of…mind that saw complex public affairs as Unsolved Riddles, [and] gloried in humour as a way to stay human in the face of dehumanizing forces and ideas.

Now Paul and Leslie are coming to the end of their Stephen Leacock Re-Tour. They will perform in Victoria this week. Their final event, next Tuesday, will take place at Green College at UBC, where Stephen Leacock ended his lecture tour in 1937.

May Shaughnessy stand against a tide of speculation

Venerable houses like these are part of the city's history. I hope the historic homes and enormous trees of this unique neighbourhood with will not fall with Vanishing Vancouver, as Caroline Adderson calls it. Thankfully, a recent walk around the Crescent revealed none of the empty homes that are seen too often in the city today, bought not for occupation, but for speculation. But what does the For Sale sign below presage? Will these two beauties fall, or worse, be left unoccupied by owners who live far away in other countries?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tired snowman rests at Hycroft Christmas fair

Christmas at Hycroft offers many wonderful and expected sights, sounds and smells. But there can be surprises too. Today this tired snowman draped himself across the roof of the food kiosk, apparently in need of a nap.


The usual Christmas decor, treats, and music included the Langley Ukelele Ensemble, who played carols in the courtyard, pianist Michael Molnar played indoors.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A fine send-off for The Reverend Dr. Don Grayston: peace worker, author, pilgrim and soul friend

Yesterday Christ Church Cathedral was packed with mourners for the the man known to his friends simply as Don. Former students and friends gathered with family in a service of thanksgiving for the time he shared with all of us. As Don would have wished, this funeral was  a joyful celebration of the time he so generously shared with fellow pilgrims on life's way. It was a sendoff worthy of this intelligent, serious, responsible, vibrant, and witty man.

Rest in Peace, Don Grayston.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Crow and gull add themselves to artistic composition

In the autumn sunshine at White Rock, a crow and a gull vied for the elegance stakes. They took turns posing on top of this sculpture on West Beach.