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Friday, August 22, 2008

Canadian Exhibitions

It's been a busy week or two...most of it was spent getting ready for school in September, but the weekends have been spent exploring more of my new country's attractions. On the 16th and 17th I was honored to be one of the invitees to Lynn Johnston's 'farewell and hello' party for FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE, in Cottage Country.
A word about Cottages: These correspond to the USA's "cabins in the country". Everyone here in Oakville seems to 'go to the Cottage' on a weekend. So I was thrilled to be able to go to one, myself.
Lynn actually doesn't live in a cottage; it's a full sized, very nicely laid-out house on a pretty lake. Other small houses nearby correspond more to the 'cottage' description than her very comfortable home. Many are located on nearby Lake Nipissing, (pronounced with the accent on the first syllable, thankyouverymuch.) Lynn's friend went into hysterics when I got it wrong.
She kindly drove me up to Lynn's house; and we toured the city of North Bay after the party.
The area is lovely in summer, but in the spring a lot of the dreaded Black Fly and No-See-Ums are about. These legendarily bloodthirsty things bite and generally make life extremely unpleasant in May and June. There's always a catch to a beautiful area...
The North Bay waterfront had two wonderful carousels that Lynn and her husband helped create. This one,
is a loving recreation of the great turn of the 20th century carousels; each handcarved horse is sponsored by a local business or resident. Many artists contributed to this gorgeous work of kinetic art. Lynn's characters are painted on two of the central panels and she sponsored one horse as well. (I wasn't able to ride on it but sat next to it on a horse named "Pearl". All the horses can be seen on the carousel's website.)
Next to this fine carousel was an extremely amusing one that featured Canadian animals. I rode on one of the carriages and photographed the beavers, moose, and other folk-art styled carvings and will try to post some of them in the next blog entry when the pictures are back. It takes a while to get film developed nowadays! but it will be worth the wait.
On Wednesday I went to the Canadian National Exhibition. Blog regulars might remember the ghastly 'cookbook' illustrations I printed from a 1956 CNE handout a while back. Well, the CNE had many more wholesome historical items on display in a special show, right next to the "Quilt of Belonging", which has a square representing every nation on the planet (as of 2003, when the quilt was finished). *Most remarkably, the quilt also has squares representing the First Nations of Canada (called Native Americans in the USA.) The work is superb and the quilt is a very pretty sight.

I took in a Gypsy Horse show performance at the Ricoh Stadium that featured trick riding by a young pair of pigtailed, blonde sisters in addition to some excellent acrobatic work by their elders.
There was also a Farm complete with live pigs, cows, ostriches, horses and chickens; the wonderfully named "Horse Palace", an artist' display, a surprisingly neat midway (Canada seems to have very little litter, which is a good thing) and guest performers including, of all people, Mickey Rooney.
I didn't stay long enough to catch his show but admire his spirit.
My one criticism of the event was that the "Sitting Pretty" exhibit on the history of the toilet was a bit too subdued. If you are going to do a history of the toilet, hyperbole should be the order of the day, not modest, half-hidden little cubicles. Something like the Mr. Rooter Marching Toilets...or the infamous marching toilets complete with the Toilet Bowl Queen from Pasadena's 1998 DOO DAH PARADE, which I had the honor of participating in. But I was marching that year with the Howl-a Lujah Chorus of bassett hounds, walking two of Ron Clements' pets on red ribbons--I was certainly not elected Toilet Bowl Queen!
I will post pictures of the carousel, etc. when I have them back. Meanwhile, another trip is planned for tomorrow...more anon!


Floyd Norman said...

Did you say, Mickey Rooney? Wow!

Some years ago, I had the opportunity to watch Mickey perform in person. He was pretty old then.

I agree, I admire his spirit.

Nancy said...

I didn't get to see him, but it's amazing that he's still working. He's the only silent film star still working, I believe...he was a kid star in the Twenties!