Appeared in the North Shore News – March 24, 2016
It’s asking a lot, but suspend your fascination with West Vancouver politics.
Go light of foot and heart to La Cucina, where the food and the unforced atmosphere of an intimate European restaurant are draws enough, its regulars confiding its lure only to reliable friends (“Umberto often comes here,” one told me, and, as if on cue, Vancouver’s top restaurateur walked in) for the stunning treat of Ingrid Faedo.
You will spot her immediately. Ingrid is so beautiful that she wears out the word. A new one cries out to be sculpted for her. Yet she seems unaware of it.
She is as modest as her role. She is the server-plus at La Cucina: 1509 Marine Dr., North Vancouver, memorize it.
Then, awing newcomers, West Vancouver’s Ingrid can break out in song. You will never hear Happy Birthday sung like this. Or opera arias in such a milieu.
And not amateur night. Lyric soprano Ingrid’s professional credits would fill this space. With music degrees (bachelor’s from UBC, master’s from McGill), as Ingrid Erika Mankhof she had leading roles in operettas in Germany, Austria, Holland and Belgium, by Strauss, Offenbach and Kalman, and the title role in Lehar’s The Merry Widow. She’s sung at Salute to Vienna concerts from New York City to Calgary.
Does she miss such celebrity? Her answer seems without false modesty or hidden regret: “For everything there is a season, and I am very happy with my present season” (as wife of Tiberio Faedo, owner of La Cucina for 36 years). But Ingrid also keeps a professional tonsil in, singing once or twice a month at prestigious Pan Pacific Hotel’s opera buffet evenings.
It’s a musically long but geographically short road from her Chemainus birthplace.
“I remember at the age of five singing solo the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in front of the congregation at the Brethren Church in Ladysmith, and the reaction that I received made little Ingrid very happy,” Ingrid said. “I even remember the light blue blouse that I wore and the little black skirt. My love of fashion also started at a very young age.”
If you can get a table at this cosy restaurant, go. Take a loved one. Guaranteed memorable, especially if it gets buzzed around that it’s your mate’s birthday.
• • •
If autism, an often poignant affliction of children, finally gets under Canada’s medicare tent as a medically necessary treatment, a surprising number of West Vancouverites coincidentally will have had a hand in it.
David Marley, Medicare for Autism Now! spokesman, tells a riveting tale of how the MFAN cause was chosen – luck, stickhandling by Paula Williams and her South Surrey-White Rock team, heavenly intervention, whatever – by B.C.’s federal Liberal constituencies as a resolution at the Liberal national convention in Winnipeg in May.
Jean Lewis of West Van has been pushing, pulling, pleading for the autism sufferers’ cause since 1998, when she and Williams led a meeting at West Vancouver’s St. Francis-in-the-Woods Anglican Church. West Vancouver resident Chris Hinkson, now chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court, acted pro bono for 30 MFAN-supporting families, and in 2000 Madame Justice Marion Allan, also of West Vancouver, ruled in their favour. In 2002 the B.C. Court of Appeal – its judgment written by Madame Justice Mary Saunders, another West Vancouver resident – upheld the trial judge’s findings of fact.
In 2004 Canada’s Supreme Court didn’t overturn that ruling, only suggested that the B.C. government could have more swiftly moved its buns – I translate freely from the court’s obiter dicta – to fund MFAN’s core rationale, applied behavioural analysis, which I won’t attempt to translate in case it looks like showing off.
Politically, the cause stalled at the door of Conservative health minister Tony Clement. MFAN hopes the Justin Trudeau Liberals will be more sympathetic to an issue West Van almost holds the deed to.
• • •
Ironic. It took years to strip Howe Sound of waterfront industry – the Britannia Beach mine, and a pulp and paper mill. When we moved to West Van 31 years ago, the pong assailed the nostrils whenever the wind blew wrong. Now the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant has leaped environmental hurdles, delighting advocate Fred Bowyer. But the political bar could be set higher, West Van council, including business-friendly Mayor Michael Smith, being among the unanimously opposed.
• • •
West Vancouver is stingy honouring its late great. But it should name a nub of Lighthouse Park waterfront, just east of the wartime buildings, Murray Newman Point. I cherish walks there with the innovative founder of the world-class Vancouver Aquarium, relishing his wit, elegant conversation, and erudition.
© Trevor Lautens, 2016