The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.
Who woulda thunk it? Rene Levesque's separatist movement to break up the country ends up creating the most swish party in Toronto where the glitterati would stab each other for tickets. When the lads who would make Quebec a new nation came to power, there was of course that mad dash down the 401 from Montreal to the safe reaches of Hogtown for thousands of citizens who didn't feel welcome at home anymore. One of them was real estate developer Jack Rabinovitch, a roly-poly guy with a great twinkle in his eye and a large wallet in his jeans. He now is the social lion of his adopted town one night a year where he is king of all he surveys and the best matrons in the largest and richest city in the land swoon at his feet. The Giller Night it's called and a select 500 lucky ones got an invite to the watering hole at the Four Seasons Hotel in trendy Yorkville, every single one of them the recipient Ð hand-delivered to their homes Ð of Jack's engraved invitation accompanied by a single red rose. Those Montreal chaps know how to do it up with style. The Giller is Jack's tribute to his late wife Doris Giller, a tart-tongued literary journalist who was book editor at the Montreal Star and later the Toronto Star. Star of the evening, naturally, is the $25,000 cheque, the richest book prize in this impoverished nation. Anyone who can beat out favorite Margaret Atwood obviously deserves it and winner M.G. Vassangi seems almost as much a character as Rabinovitch himself. Born in Kenya, he moved on to study nuclear physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and ended up at our Chalk River atomic gig before deciding on the non-toxic role of an author, his winning The In-Between Life of Vikram Lall being his sixth book. As mentioned, anyone who thought they was somebody was there. See 'Thanks' P.# Con't from P.# Three Ontario ex-premiers, Bill Davis, Bob Rae and David R. Peterson swanned about. As did an-ex Saskatchewan premier, Roy Romanow. Jack is very eclectic in his friends. The mysterious Moses Znaimer came out of hiding and was present in his mysterious self. Pamela Wallin, from her perch at 550 Park Avenue in Manhattan as Canada's consul-general, flew in for the thrash. Richard Addis, the former Globe and Mail editor now an editor with the Financial Times on Fleet Street, flew in from London to be with his buddy Jack. Such is the glitter of the Giller that it is a well-known fact among the Rosedale crowd that certain people who did not receive that single rose at the door make a point of informing all their friends that unfortunately they have a golfing commitment in Florida and will be out of town for that night. The philanthropist in question has to arrive with five cheques for the five finalists since he doesn't even know the winner until the three judges announce the chosen one. Mary Walsh, the nutty Newfie from This Hour Has 22 Minutes, as mistress of ceremonies for the bash, at one stage announced to the 500, "Jack, is that five cheques for $25,000 in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" As for the judges, they had to peruse the 97 entries from 38 different publishers. I would guarantee that if either of the three ploughed through all 97, another fee of $25,000 would be warranted. In all, an hilarious evening, topped off as usual, on its 10th anniversary with Jack's usual serving of Irish coffee for 500. Mordecai Richler, who dreamed up this idea with Jack in a Montreal smoked meat palace, would be smiling from above. There's a saying that you should not speak ill will about the dead. So, Rene. Thanks a lot.