SWEET DREAMING: Ronald McDonald House’s recent A Night to Dream gala was a recurring one for Lindsey Turner, who chaired it for the fourth consecutive time. The 17th annual event reportedly grossed $680,000 to help accommodate the 2,000-a-year families who occupy the 73-suite facility for an average 13-day stay. CEO Richard Pass and new board chair Patrick McGuinty may soon announce that up to 52 suites will be added to five-year-old Ronald McDonald House on the B.C. Children’s Hospital campus. Four-bedroom satellites are also expected beside Royal Columbian Hospital and Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. They’ll duplicate one at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
MODEL CITIZEN: Masset-raised artist Robert Davidson is the subject of Charles Wilkinson’s documentary, Haida Modern, that premiered during the recent Vancouver International Film Festival. Called “a protégé and friend” by celebrated late carver Bill Reid, Davidson also perceives the Haida tradition not as inviolable rules but as the basis for evolving, living art. His own wide-ranging artworks include gold coins that the Canadian Mint released to accompany his 1997 elevation to the Order of Canada. $50,000 in ordinary currency came his way in 2010 with the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement. “I’ve been thinking about a new car,” the ever-modest Davidson said before cheerfully admitting that he’d forwarded the entire amount to fund post-secondary bursaries for Haida Gwaii students.
FELICE ANNIVERSARIO: Italian Cultural Centre president Michael Cuccione welcomed community members to a recent 42nd anniversary fundraising gala. Such events have been staged annually since 13 Italian associations founded the Slocan-at-Grandview “Il Centro” on a 3.25-hectare former city dump site. This year, Cuccione inducted former B.C. Lions football team head coach and general manager Wally Buono into the centre’s Hall of Fame. Happily, his old team defeated the Toronto Argonauts 55-8 the following day. Buono likely approved the teamwork when catering director Fabio Rasotto’s kitchen squad served the centre’s fourth full-capacity banquet that week, then repeated it the following night when the Confratellanza Italo-Canadese Society honoured longtime community benefactor John DeLucchi.
BON APPÉTIT: Lazy Gourmet owner Susan Mendelson celebrated her catering firm’s 40th anniversary at the Roundhouse Community Centre recently. She likely didn’t foresee that when a UBC arts-and-social-work degree scored her a $350-a-month job at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, now the Cultch. To meet her rent, she made carrot cake, cheesecake and Nanaimo bars for sale during intervals. She and friend Deborah Roitberg then founded Lazy Gourmet, but Mendelson’s brush with dramatics continued. That was when “two beat-up cars jammed in (a departing customer) and all these scruffy-looking people were waving guns.” Suspecting that it wasn’t part of an earlier movie shoot, Mendelson asked if she should call the cops. “We are the cops,” one fracas member replied. Her business maxim: “I always hired people who were better than me.” That doubtless pleased seven-year general manager Kevin Mazzone at the anniversary beano.
TREES AND APPLE: Actor-moviemaker Mark Oliver, who recently screened his 2018 short Elvis Strung Out, may appreciate late singer Judy Garland’s lyrics: “I was born in a trunk in the Princess Theater in Pocatello, Idaho.” Oliver has a trunkful of theatrical antecedents himself. Grandfather David Oliver owned theatres and produced films in 1910s and 1920s Germany. Grandmother Edith was a screen actress. A great grandmother danced with the Kirov ballet. Oliver’s late Berlin-born father, H.A.D. (Bert) Oliver, sidestepped the stage to study with a London firm of solicitors founded in 1560. “But inside every solicitor there’s a barrister struggling to get out,” he said after moving to Vancouver and pleading criminal law cases. But the theatrical gene survived. One of Bert’s many acquittals involved him holding up a pre-punctured cup of water that dripped steadily for 30 seconds. Then, facing the judge (he later became one himself), he said: “This decidedly reminds me of the case for the Crown.”
CENTENARIANS: Rana and Rupa Vig staged another 100 Year Journey gala recently. The annual event began in 2014 along with a same-name book marking the centennial of Canadian officials turning back South Asians aboard the ship Komagata Maru. The book, which contains illustrated accounts of 103 successful immigrants and their families, was developed from Mehfil, a glossy magazine that Rana and brother Minto founded in 1993. Four years later, then-premier Glen Clark called Rana “a politician in the making.” Evading that dubious assessment, he achieved something comparable in 1994 by becoming a diamond-direct dealer of the Amway multi-level marketing firm.
BOTTOMS UP: Actress and animal-activist Pamela Anderson has joined others opposing a proposed roadway through a Port Moody park. If successful, they could celebrate with toasts of Anderson’s name-brand wine. That would be a step-up from the tankerloads of Baby Duck produced by Port Moody’s old Andre’s winery. Coincidentally, that concern’s former site is contentious, too, with three towers and nine lower buildings now proposed.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Brexiteering Britons may ruefully sing Three Blind Mice on that children’s rhyme’s 510th anniversary Oct. 12.