Fatherly pride

The past few months have been stellar times for my two offspring, Mark and Alison. Forgive a father for feeling such pride, but while they were both already very successful in their chosen fields, their recent accomplishments are particularly compelling.

In addition to his day job as CEO of Wellington Financial, Mark is also chairman of the Toronto Port Authority. Among other roles, this federal agency oversees Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. In the last six years, the airport saw a fifty-fold passenger increase and this year will handle two million people.

The short ferry trip works, but there is a wait. A pedestrian tunnel, first proposed 77 years ago, was the answer. For the past three years Mark has been a tenacious force. He worked with TPA staff as well as federal and provincial politicians and officials to create a public-private partnership that will build the underwater passage. Yesterday, Mark officiated at an ceremony at which he, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Mayor Rob Ford announced the $82.5 million tunnel. In times of restraint, all the participants were delighted to say that – unlike most such infrastructure projects – no taxpayer dollars will be spent. All costs will be covered by the already existing $20 airport improvement fee paid by departing passengers.

Alison, a professor of art history at McMaster University, recently saw the completion of project that took even longer. In her case, it was the publication last fall of a book that required ten years of research and writing. Empress Eugenie and the Arts: Politics and Visual Culture in the Nineteenth Century took Alison to eight countries as she consulted archives, studied art and architecture, and became an expert in the Second Empire. Her book, which has received positive reviews, has revolutionized accepted thinking on Eugenie, a powerful political figure and patron who not only collected and commissioned art but also led France in the establishment of children’s health and education facilities.

In January, Alison published a beautiful catalogue entitled From Renaissance to Rodin: Celebrating the Tanenbaum Gift. The scores of works shown in this readable coffee-table book were gifts over the last forty years to the Art Gallery of Ontario by Joey and Toby Tanenbaum as well as Joey’s parents, Max and Anne. In addition, Alison has just been named a full professor at McMaster.

Congratulations to Mark and Alison!

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