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Sunday Newsletter 2001-12Su.
March 25, 2001.
While researching this week's biography on Celine Dion, I kept coming upon the phrase "from humble beginnings". I checked a lot of sources on this amazing lady, and at least six different Web sites had these words at or near the top of Celine Dion's biography. Even her "official" Web site starts off this way. Either there is a lot of plagiarism going on, or the various individuals that are writing these biographies are not too creative.
Don't we all start from "humble beginnings", being born into this world naked, impressionable and vulnerable? I believe we all have certain talents with which we are born -- some of us are lucky enough to realize these talents early and hone them into a career. Let's take hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky for example (whose biography we featured in issue 2001-03Su). If Walter (his father) was not so keen on the sport of hockey and had not started "The Great One" early in his life with skates and a stick, would we have the marvelous memories of some of the best play-making and goal-scoring abilities etched into our memories? Would Wayne have simply turned out to be an architect, an appliance repairman or the CEO of a major corporation? I don't know. Regardless of what his life would have become, he still would have had the talent for hockey (although latent) inside of him.
How many others are like this? I will follow this question with another perspective. Records, whether they be set by athletes or by best-selling authors, have one thing in common; they are usually related to humans or the world around us, and these records were created by humans to set the standards for other humans to break. There are all sorts of records for different ages, sexes and sometimes even race. Just because "Bill Smith" is claimed to be the best archer in the world does not mean that there are not hundreds of others in the world, following different paths in life, that could better "good old Bill's" records. Realistically speaking, how many children are born into environments where they are encouraged to practice their archery skills? Not many I would suppose -- fewer than are encouraged to play hockey anyway, but probably more than are encouraged to pursue genetics (see last week's biography on David Suzuki at this link).
The long-winded point I am trying to make is that it does not matter if you come from "humble beginnings", or if you are the offspring of Bill Gates (although parentage helps). What we make of ourselves in life is dictated by how much we believe in ourselves. Having strong, influential or wealthy parents will influence the equation, but are there not more "failures" produced from these roots than there are "successes"? I believe this to be true. So let's give Ms. Dion credit. She certainly was born with a gift, and her life's path followed the correct direction for her. The thing is that she needed to believe in her abilities first. If she was not interested in being a singer, she could have become waitress, or a chemist, or even a radio DJ. The latent talent still would have been there... untapped. It is up to all of us who are born from "humble beginnings" (this means all of us) to rise as far as we aspire, and no further, for we must be both happy and comfortable in this life to be inwardly successful.
== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==
= Question of the week
= Biography -- Celine Dion
= Contest winner
= Notes from the notable -- Benjamin Chee Chee
= Joke of the week
= Previous article updates
= Did you know?
= Also born this week
= Place names -- Rigaud, Quebec
= Escapes -- Butter Pot Provincial Park, Newfoundland
= This week's top ten list
= Answer to this week's question
= Links and resources
= Legal and subscription information
== QUESTION OF THE WEEK ==
Where is Takhini Hotsprings?
== BIOGRAPHY ==
This Canadian chanteuse and occasional actress was born in Charlemagne, Quebec, a small town just 50 kilometres north of Montreal, on March 30, 1968. She was the 14th and last child of Adhemar and Therese Dion and being a close-knit musical family offered her the early direction in which her life would lead. Adhemar and Therese formed the musical group the Dion Family, and Celine was touring with them in and around Quebec at a very early age. Later they opened a piano bar, five year old Celine would perform to the delight of patrons, and her first real recognition from outside the family began to build her confidence in her musical talent.
Everything was not that easy though for the young Celine. At school peer pressure was affecting her greatly. "I definitely did not look good," she remembers. "I had teeth problems, long straggly hair and long arms... I didn't like myself at all." Fortunately for Celine school was less important than the accolades she received while performing and, with the encouragement of her parents (especially her violinist mother), they put together a "demo tape" when she was only twelve. Her singing was very important to young Celine, as it directed much attention and love (which she craved) from parents who tried distributing it the best they could among their brood.
The story of her discovery has a few varying versions; some say Montreal impresario Rene Angelil discovered her in the family-owned piano bar / restaurant; another attributes her discovery to a secretary bringing a tape to Monsieur Angelil's attention when it was mailed in by Celine's mother. Although these stories have probably changed slightly over the years, I tend to believe the most innocent and believable version -- that being a kind of amalgamation of the two. Celine and her mother mailed the tape to an address they found on the back of an LP (long-playing record album, for all of you born into the compact disc age) by French-Canadian singer Ginette Reno... and waited. The demo found its way to Angelil's desk (more than likely via the secretary). Impressed with what he heard he probably visited their restaurant for a listen himself.
Regardless of the actual story, Angelil did hear the tape and did phone to invite Celine and her mother to his office for a listening session. When Celine again performed the song in person for Angelil in the privacy of his office, he apparently was brought to tears. This was the beginning of the legend -- the streak of recognition had begun. Angelil had found a singer he could dedicate his life into making a star, and Celine found someone completely devoted to her and her alone. Celine recalls, "When I met Rene, I loved him, but as a child." Later her love became all-encompassing, as she said, "The more I got to know him over the years, and the more we worked together, the more I fell in love with him, as a young woman." He also always said, "I believe in her," and through that simple belief the superstar Celine Dion was created.
Angelil then mortgaged his house to finance Celine's debut recording of "La Voix du Bon Dieu" ("The Voice of God") in 1981. It became standard fare in most Quebec households, and in Europe Celine became the first Canadian-born French-language performer to earn a gold record in France. The next year Rene entered her in the Yamaha World Song Festival in Tokyo, Japan, in which she won the coveted Gold Medal Musician's Award for Top Performer.
By 1988 Celine was as famous in her native Quebec as anyone could be, and it was time to take on the daunting task of challenging the world. Her only obstacle was her French-only lyrics. It was around this time that Celine began Berlitz courses in English. She had already amassed nine French-language recordings, and had won the Quebec Felix award and the national Juno many times. By 1990 her first English-language recording ("Unison") was released and "la petite Quebecoise" (the little girl from Quebec) began paving the way for her career in English as well. Recording after recording garnered her more and more attention -- but Celine never forgot her roots, recording at least one French album for each English release. Her English albums coincided with much other activity -- she worked with many other artists recording timeless duets, and she contributed to soundtracks like "Sleepless in Seattle", Disney's "Beauty and the Beast", and "Titanic". Celine also began her humanitarian work with the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation after her niece Karine died of the disease.
On December 17, 1994, at Montreal's Notre Dame Basilica, Celine married Rene Angelil. Even though he was 26 years her senior, they were in love. Now more confident than ever, nothing, not even the sinking of the Titanic, stopped the Celine juggernaut. From the "D'eux" album, released in French in 1995, the emotional song "Vole" appeared. The next year "Vole" ("Fly") was released on the English-language release of the album "Falling into You" and was a tribute to the loss of Karine. "Falling into You" became the best-selling recording of 1996, topping the charts in 11 countries and voted Album of the Year and Best Pop Album at the 39th Grammy Awards. The album has sold over 25 million copies worldwide. A ground breaking decision was made in 1997 to include the love ballad "My Heart Will Go On" on the Titanic soundtrack. This won the Oscar for Best Original Song.
In March 1999 Rene was diagnosed with throat cancer. Through therapy and the love he and Celine shared he recovered. They renewed their wedding vows in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, on January 2, 2000, and Celine announced her intention to take a few years off and start a family. With a little help from modern science, their son Rene Charles was born on January 25, 2001. (See the announcement in FactsCanada.ca issue 2001-04Su).
Other of Celine's achievements include the awarding of both the Officer of the Orders of Canada and Quebec in 1998. She has won more than 40 Felix awards, 20 Juno awards and seven Grammies for her musical work.
== CONTEST WINNER ==
Thanks once again for being such enthusiastic participants in the latest contest from FactsCanada.ca. We receive more entries with each contest -- which isn't surprising considering our growing subscriber base.
To refresh your memory, the question that we asked was, "This town, with a population of only 4220, is the capital of Nunavut, Canada's newest territory. What is the name of this town?" The correct answer (correctly spelled) is "Iqaluit". As our winner correctly pointed out, Iqaluit was formerly known as Frobisher Bay. While the name of the town has changed, the bay on which Iqaluit sits is still known as Frobisher Bay.
Who is our winner? Graham from Toronto wins the four-CD set of essential Canadian music entitled "Oh What a Feeling 2". Congratulations Graham. We hope you enjoy the music and thanks to all of you for entering.
== NOTES FROM THE NOTABLE ==
Name: Benjamin Chee Chee.
Born as: Kenneth Thomas Benjamin.
Date of Birth: March 26, 1944.
Place of Birth: Bear Island, Temagami Reserve, Ontario.
Died: March 14, 1977, in Ottawa, Ontario.
Cause of Death: Committed suicide in jail.
First Nations Affiliation: Ojibwa.
Details: After a turbulent youth, Chee Chee finally settled down and moved to Montreal in 1965. For eight years he was encouraged to pursue his love of drawing and held his first exhibition in Ottawa in 1973. The pressures of success combined with four years of alcoholism eventually led him to the Ottawa jail where he ended his life.
Portfolio: Chee Chee's work initially featured "beautiful, colourful abstract compositions of block stamped geometric motifs". By 1976 his work had changed to sparse, linear representations of birds and animals. His unique, simplistic style was unlike other native artists in that Chee Chee denied that his images had symbolic meaning; they were rather "creatures of the present".
Some locations where collections of his works are on display:
Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec.
Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta.
Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario.
Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario.
Exhibitions have taken place at:
University of Ottawa in 1973.
Inukshuk Gallery in Waterloo, Ontario, in 1976.
Marion Scott Galleries in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1977.
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, in 1983.
The Thunder Bay Art Gallery in Ontario in 1991.
== JOKE OF THE WEEK ==
Prime Minister Jean Chretien calls American President George W. Bush to ask him a question. "Why did you pick Dick Cheney as Vice President?"
Bush replies, "He passed the intelligence test." "What was the test?" asks Chretien.
"'If your mother has a baby and it's not your brother and not your sister, who is it?' Dick's reply was 'It's me!' So I hired him."
"Good idea," says Chretien. "I'll try that on my finance minister."
So he asks Paul Martin the same question. Martin replies, "Well... can I give you an answer in a day or two?" "Hey, no problem, Paul," says Chretien.
Now Martin is completely in the dark, so he asks Stockwell Day the same question. Stockwell answers, "The answer is, 'me', of course."
Happy, Martin goes back to Chretien and says, "I've got the answer to your question. If my mother has a baby who is neither my brother or my sister, it's Stockwell Day."
Shaking his head Chretien says, "You're such a dork Paul; it's Dick Cheney you idiot."
== PREVIOUS ARTICLE UPDATES ==
A couple of weeks ago in issue 2001-10Su I brought you the story about director Ang Lee's movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" moving into Canada's all-time, number-one spot for foreign movie revenues generated. It has now become the top-grossing, foreign-language film in history in the United States as well, as it moves ever closer to the $100 million dollar mark. After winning the Golden Globe award, it has now won the top award from the Directors Guild of America (DGA). During the DGA's 53-year history they have only failed to predict the eventual Academy Award winner four times. Place your bets and watch the Oscars tonight.
By the way, FactsCanada.ca's very own movie critic and writer of the "Geek Report" (Craig) gives the film a big thumbs up.
Another update concerns singer Shania Twain, who we featured in our very first newsletter (2000-01Su). In case you missed it, a spokeswoman announced this past Thursday that Twain is expecting her first child. The Juno and Grammy Award winning Twain, 35, is among the best-selling female singers in the history of music, with combined worldwide sales of over 50 million recordings. Shania and her husband, rock music producer Robert "Mutt" Lange, are currently residing at their home and converted studio in Switzerland where Twain is also currently working on her fourth album.
== DID YOU KNOW? ==
Did you know the brother of Prime Minister Jean Chretien has also forged quite a career for himself, although not in the political arena? Michel Chretien, born on March 26, 1936, in Shawinigan, Quebec, is a physician, researcher and professor with the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal. He has been there since 1984 serving as scientific director. He is internationally recognized for his contribution to neuroendocrinology, and it was he who first proposed in 1967 that pituitary hormones were synthesized from larger precursors.
For some information on Michel Chretien and his work, please see the relevant links in today's resources at the end of the page.
== ALSO BORN THIS WEEK ==
Karen Kain, dancer, born in Hamilton, Ontario, on March 28, 1951.
Jack Chambers, painter, born in London, Ontario, on March 25, 1931.
Martin Short, comedian and actor, born in Hamilton, Ontario, on March 26, 1950.
Bill Bourne, folk singer and musician, born in Red Deer, Alberta, on March 28, 1954.
Gordie Howe, legendary hockey player, born in Floral, Saskatchewan, on March 31, 1928.
== PLACE NAMES ==
Besides being the training ground for the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA), formerly known as Revenue Canada, Rigaud and Mount Rigaud and its trails offer the public a scenic and easily accessible escape from the hustle and bustle life of Montreal. About an hour drive west of Montreal along highway 40, Rigaud (pronounced Ri-Go) is located in the regional county of Vaudreuil-Soulanges. It owes its name to the grant of seigneury to Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil de Cavagnial, governor of New France (one of Canada's previous names), and to Francois-Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, governor of Trois-Rivieries in 1732. The post office was named and opened there in 1835 and it was incorporated as a village in 1880. In 1911 Rigaud again reclassified itself, this time as a town. Currently their Web site is referring to it as the Municipality of Rigaud, but Natural Resources Canada classifies it as a village.
For a map of the Rigaud area, please see the links in today's resources at the end of the page.
== ESCAPES ==
Butter Pot Provincial Park, Newfoundland.
This article is the first of what I hope will be a weekly feature, running until the summer, profiling a provincial park chosen at random from each of Canada's provinces and territories. I hope this will open your eyes to the almost endless areas we have here in Canada where we can enjoy nature. So whether you are planning a vacation or just a weekend getaway, I hope you use this feature as a stepping stone to your discovery of some of our country's hidden treasures.
First up is Butter Pot Provincial Park (try saying that ten times quickly) in Newfoundland. This park is located on the Avalon Peninsula approximately 36 kilometres southwest of St. John's along the Trans Canada Highway. The park covers an area of 2833 hectares. The terrain and vegetation varies between forests, bogs, heaths and ponds. Hiking trails take you through forests and over barrens to a remarkable scenic view-point.
The oldest rocks found in Butter Pot Provincial Park belong to the "Harbour Main" group. They date back to the Precambrian period, approximately 600 million years ago. During the last glaciation, approximately 20 000 years ago, great sheets of ice scraped the land, gouging out river valleys, dragging boulders and thus changing the landscape. When the climate changed and the weather became warmer, the ice began to melt and retreat. As it did, huge boulders once embedded in the ice were left behind. These displaced boulders are called "erratics" and many of them can be seen in this park. The best place to view them is along the trail to Butter Pot Hill and on the hill itself.
The main vegetation type is Boreal forest, a dense-growing coniferous forest, dominated by black spruce and balsam fir with some tamarack and white birch. On the abundant barren regions the shallow soil is usually quite acidic. The plants supported by such a soil include sheep laurel, Labrador tea, rhoddora and blueberry. Exposure, and a severe forest fire late in the 19th century, formed the barrens within the park. The fire was so intense that much of the already shallow soil was burned to the bedrock, resulting in even less soil than was originally present. The park area also contains much peat land, shrub and heath land. The variety of habitats result in a diversity of wildflowers such as the bunchberry, crowberry, northern honeysuckle and pitcher plant (the floral emblem of Newfoundland). Within the park, 230 plant species have been found and identified.
Many mammals such as moose, beaver, chipmunk, red squirrel, and snowshoe hare find safe homes within the park's boundary. Over 200 species of birds have been recorded in Butter Pot Provincial Park. These include the pine grosbeak, common loon, willow ptarmigan and ruffed grouse.
The term "butter pot" means a prominent, rounded hill. The park is named for Butter Pot Hill which is found within the park boundary. Long before the area became a park, nearby residents hunted, trapped game, picked berries, cut wood, and grazed their animals on Butter Pot Ridge. Due to the rugged terrain the land was never settled. Most of the area's vegetation was destroyed by fire around 1889. In sheltered areas the forest grew back quickly, but in exposed places it has not quite recovered.
Camping: Over 126 campsites are provided at Butter Pot Provincial Park. Each campsite has a picnic table, fireplace, garbage can, and space for your vehicle. Pit toilets and drinking-water taps are located throughout the park. A comfort station with showers, and laundry facilities is located by the swimming area. The trailer dumping station is situated off the main entrance road. Firewood can be obtained at the woodlot.
Picnicking: Picnic areas are located in the day-use section of the park near Big Otter Pond. The picnic areas are equipped with toilets, a water tap, and picnic tables. Bring your camp stove or barbecue and enjoy the park.
Playgrounds: Children of all ages will enjoy the playgrounds, situated near campsites 79 and 57 and in the day-use section of the park. They contain swings, see-saws, sandboxes, and slides. The park has two horseshoe pitches located near campsites 78 and 57. The horseshoes are not provided.
Fishing: Trout are plentiful in the park's ponds. Certain regulations apply, so see the park staff for more information before wetting your line.
Concessions: Boat rentals and a small convenience store are located in the park for your enjoyment.
Comfort Station: Flush toilets and shower facilities available. Laundromat with hot wash and dryers.
Hiking: Butter Pot Provincial Park has an extensive trail system. Please remember to wear appropriate clothing and sturdy footwear. Young children should be accompanied by an adult. The trails begin near campsite 58. A five-minute walk takes you to the "Lookout" from where you have a view of the park and Butter Pot Hill. The hike to Butter Pot Hill takes roughly 2.5 hours for the return trip and the distance in total is approximately 6.6 kilometres. Your efforts from the long climb will be rewarded, for the view from the 303-metre-high summit of Butter Pot Hill is fantastic! Caution should be exercised in the vicinity of Butter Pot Hill because of the steep cliffs. For a more leisurely hike take the Pegwood Pond trail. This hike will take you through the forest, past Peter's Pond to the playground. The total distance is approximately 3.2 kilometres (one way) and will take about 1.5 hours. Please do not smoke while walking. Rest stops with ashtrays are provided along the way.
Swimming: The park has two swimming areas, both with toilets nearby. The beaches are located on Big Otter Pond; one in the day-use area and the other near the comfort station. Please use caution, as the swimming areas are not supervised. Water safety equipment is located on the beaches.
Boating: The use of power boats is prohibited in Butter Pot Provincial Park, but you are welcome to enjoy the water with canoes, sailboats and rowboats.
My thanks to Heather Cumming, information officer for the park, who has granted us permission to use some of the text you have just read.
== THIS WEEK'S TOP TEN LIST ==
According to Statistics Canada, the ten busiest ports in Canada rated by thousands of tonnes of cargo loaded and unloaded annually are:
Port Tonnage (thousands of tonnes) 1. Vancouver 71 798 2. Sept-Iles/Pte-Noire 24 471 3. Port-Cartier 20 902 4. Saint John 20 610 5. Montreal/Contrecoeur 20 609 6. Port Hawkesbury 15 943 7. Quebec City / Levis 14 953 8. Halifax 14 813 9. Thunder Bay 12 849 10. Prince Rupert 12 538If domestic shipping only were to be considered, Thunder Bay would rank number one with 8 342 000 of its 12 849 000 tonnes being domestic in origin.
== ANSWER TO THIS WEEK'S QUESTION ==
Where is Takhini Hotsprings?
Believe it or not, these hot springs are found just north of Whitehorse, the Yukon Territory capital city. The water here enters the pools at a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius, making it quite comfortable for all.
== PREVIEW ==
Next Sunday I profile Edwin Alonzo Boyd, mark the passage of Norma Macmillan, continue the series on provincial and territorial parks with the Yukon, list the number of parks in each of the provinces and territories, and tell you about Swastika, Ontario.
I ask for your feedback occasionally, and this is another one of those times. I try to cram a lot of stuff into this newsletter, but I also know that if I make it too long, you'll never read it all and I defeat the purpose of the existence of FactsCanada.ca. If you have 30 seconds to spare, please just hit the reply button and let me know whether you think, generally speaking, our newsletters are too short, too long, or just right in length (or does size not matter?!). Thanks a bunch and I'll see you next week.
== LINKS AND RESOURCES ==
FactsCanada.ca -- http://www.factscanada.ca
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