Waterfront Magazine 2023

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As John Lennon says in his song, ‘Woman’, “Women hold up half the sky.” Nowhere is this more evident than in Canada, and in the Greater Toronto Area. Whether it’s politics, business, entertainment or in the home, the contributions of women have made them outstanding leaders in our communities. Luminaries such as Bonnie Crombie, Suzanne Rogers, Catherine O’Hara, Bianca Andreescu, Barbara Amiel and many more have helped to transform the GTA and the world at large for the better.

At Waterfront Media Group, we had the great pleasure to host the Waterfront Awards at The Toronto Region Board of Trade in celebration of the many women who have helped to light the way to a better future. This Gala event resulted in awards in 15 categories to powerhouse women, and a wonderful time was had by all.

As a consequence, the Waterfront Media Group is publishing a glossy coffee-table book which will feature women of influence in the GTA who are helping to create the catalyst for change, showcasing the achievements of 100 such women in the face of adversity. These stories will inspire people to rise to the challenges one faces when bringing one’s dreams into reality. Because for women everywhere, the sky is the limit.










Karim Mirshahi

Ross Ulysses Munroe

Aida Memisevic

Virginia Munroe

Linda Montgomery, Darren Dobson, Sandra Creighton

Justin Morgan

Kamila Bielecka, Sonia Dolar, Caroline Grenier, Elise Houghton, Bill King, Catherine Maio, Francine Mbvoumbo, MPP Mary-Margaret McMahon, Aida Memisevic, David Miller, Karim Mirshahi, S.C. Modiste, Linda Montgomery, Virginia Munroe, Ross Ulysses Munroe, Shien Victoria Zutshi, Samantha Sannella, Tatevic Sarkisyan, Shannon Skinner, Marie Smith, Rachel Song, Al Sovani, David Suzuki, Dr. Monica Vermani, Mike Winterburn


William Kaye, John Ortner, Tom Sandler, Gary Van Netten, Hugh Avendano Toledano, Tony Morrone, Hugh Reilly, Marek Goldyn, Sabrina Rossi




Manuel Canales

Peter Bonch

Rachel Song


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Uniting Fashion With Purpose

When Suzanne's press agent confirmed the interview for this article would take place in Toronto at the home of Suzanne and Edward Rogers, I was excited. I was about to get a little sneak peek, behind the scenes of the Rogers empire. Who wouldn't be curious to see how one of the most affluent families in Canada lives.

The house had an extra large driveway area, and the outer perimeter of trees made it feel like I was leaving the outside world and walking into a comforting, private oasis. I arrived at the front door and entered the beech wood foyer greeted by a smartly uniformed housekeeper. The house was different than I had imagined; it had much more of a homey, family-friendly atmosphere. I saw beautiful, prodigious furniture, expensive I'm sure, but more comfy than ostentatious. The feel inside the home was bright with happy colours and traditional decor, clearly influenced by Suzanne's style and feminine touch. The silver and blue dining room seated fourteen and was immediately to the left; here I was welcomed in to set up for the interview. Awaiting me were carefully placed dessert plates and three shiny silver trays with six different styles of cookies, including a selection of very quaint peach and lime green puffs.

Suzanne walked in and introduced herself with a friendly smile, looking immaculate in her brightly coloured dress, perfectly executed make-up and her long blonde hair swept to the side. Soon afterwards, curious to see what was going on, Suzanne's husband Edward casually popped into the dining room.

Edward Rogers is the Chairman of Rogers Communications Inc. His father Ted Rogers was the visionary who started Rogers Cable TV in the 1960s. Edward, with an amiable smile explained he had just come from a workout, and to please excuse his casual dress. He was endearing, with a down to earth energy. We chatted a bit about fitness and Fit-bit tracking, and in those brief three minutes of conversation I thought to myself, these two seem like a good match. I liked them.

As comfortable as Suzanne may now be with her role and status in this iconic, famous Canadian family, she was not born into wealth. Suzanne is proud of her humble beginnings, as a miner's daughter of Hungarian immigrants. Born in Elliot Lake, Ontario, tragic circumstances were a part of her young life when her biological father, Miklos, died in a mining accident when she was just an infant. A few years later Suzanne's mother met her step father Martin, and shortly after her sister was born. From her grandmother hiding photo albums, to a mysterious grave site visit, young Suzanne had a feeling something was different. “The first time I felt that my stepfather was not my real father was when I was very little, about four. My mother took me to his grave at Elliot Lake. She didn't say “He is your father”... she said, “There is 'somebody very special' here.” Suzanne was officially told about her ‘step’ father relationship when she was about eight years old.

In the summers, Suzanne would visit her relatives in Hungary and her step-father's family in Romania. The relatives back home dealt first hand with communism; from waiting for hours in line for


From her grandmother hiding photo albums, to a mysterious grave site visit, young Suzanne had a feeling something was different.

Her parents worked long hours, and the family lived above the storefront.

bread, to being cautious with words - for fear of neighbours reporting to authorities. Suzanne remembers the sounds of late night announcements from the dictatorship on the single TV channel. “As a child these eastern European politics were part of my young life.” She heard stories about the Hungarian revolution, and how her then 13 year old father and his best friend left home with a loaf of bread, catching a bus headed to Austria.

Prior to marrying her mother, Suzanne's step father lived in a rooming house, sacrificing and saving to buy a building in St. Thomas Ontario, where the family would open a European delicatessen. Her parents worked long hours, and the family lived above the storefront. This is where Suzanne spent much of her childhood, doing homework at the deli's back table and playing in the rear warehouse. Suzanne learned about a strong family work ethic, while customers marvelled at the adorable 10 year old who helped serve coffee.

Their European deli was successful, but the family maintained humble means, with Salvation Army and

Goodwill being included as shopping outlets. However that didn't stop Suzanne from being creative and bold with her fashion style. Although teen Suzanne wasn't allowed to wear miniskirts or jeans, she was otherwise given reign to choose her own wardrobe, and she made the most of it. She was a confident child, who loved fashion and wasn't afraid to be daring with her choices. From outlandish bomber jackets to extreme zipper pants: “Fashion whispered in my life somehow.”

Today, Suzanne is known as a Canadian fashion icon, not only for her personal style, but also as someone who organizes and participates in various fashion events and galas to help raise funds for charity. The Edward and Suzanne Rogers Foundation has assisted several organizations over the years. Suzanne spoke with particular passion about the organizations who support fragile children: “There are so many smaller charities that go unnoticed that I try to bring attention to, grassroots charities that really make an impact in so many people's lives.” Suzanne was ardent about using her name and influence to maximize charitable funding for the organizations she supports: “A cheque is just a cheque. If I can get an organization to get twenty cheques, then I think that is very impactful.”

Their charitable foundation is also instrumental in supporting emerging fashion designers and educational programs with partners such as Toronto

Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson). One of Suzanne's big initiatives is “Suzanne Rogers Presents” - a prestigious charity gala that showcases the work of internationally renowned fashion designers. Suzanne shared with me her experience in flying to New York to launch the program and pitch the first designer to come on board. A fellow you may have heard of ... Oscar de la Renta. “I had a whole presentation. I was so nervous to meet this icon. I sat in that car and my entire body was covered in sweat ... I knew if I got him, that would have a huge impact for the charity and the city.” To date, the event series has raised close to 4 million dollars for charity.

Although Suzanne grew up helping at the family deli, she also had stints throughout university as a Kelsey's waitress, nanny and a resort housekeeper. “I had jobs. I loved working... It was an independence for me.”

She worked in a variety of roles as an executive assistant, within tech companies and as a junior producer for a commercial effects studio: “My first real job, I got $35,000 a year. I could afford my own apartment, and thought 'I made it!'. Nobody has a salary like this!” If she only knew what the future would hold.

Suzanne and her husband Edward originally met as teenagers (she was his date for the prom!). “I married the man

Young Suzanne with Family at their European Deli (boy included is a friend) PHOTO COURTESY OF SUZANNE ROGERS Four Generations: Suzanne with her Mother, Grandmother and Daughter (as a teen) PHOTO COURTESY OF SUZANNE ROGERS

I loved.” Marriage and family are very important to her, but Suzanne wasn't conventional. The couple dated on and off and she didn't feel the need to get married right away. “I had Chloe with my husband Edward in my twenties but we waited to get married.” It seems her daughter, now 26, was influenced by her mother's love of design. Chloe was accepted into the prestigious Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, which led to starting her own fashion line. But as Suzanne was quick to mention: "She got into that school because she worked hard for it, not because I made a phone call.” About a decade later, Suzanne and Edward added two boys to the mix, Edward 18 and Jack 16. There was an emotional moment at one point in the interview when Suzanne talked about having an empty nest; her boys were getting older. The realization had recently hit her, and she was impassioned to spend as much time with the teens before they left for university.

Suzanne's mother was a powerful influence on her: “I've always liked myself, because I had a mother who instilled confidence in me. My self esteem was never knocked down because of the mistakes I made.” As a mom Suzanne is hands on, there for her kids; although she does not believe in being a helicopter parent or being overly strict: “You are there to be a mother, a parent to guide them. I've always let them be independent... but was always supportive.”

Suzanne describes herself as someone who has never forgotten her family and humble roots: “My work ethic started when I was 8 years old. I had to work for something if I wanted it. That was just the way I grew up.” She comments that her husband Edward also works very hard and that strong work ethic is just a part of the family dynamic: “You do have to work hard if you want to accomplish something. There is nobody lounging around my house. Everybody is doing something.”

Outside of family, I was wondering who Suzanne hangs out with. I imagine it must be difficult at times, not knowing if people are being nice to you because of your wealth, status or last name. I admit I was curious about Suzanne's friendships - are all her friends rich? As I was trying to figure out a polite way to ask the question, she brought up the topic of friendships. Both she and Edward still have close friends from their university

I had a whole presentation. I was so nervous to meet this icon.
Event "Suzanne Rogers Presents" with Oscar de la Renta - 2010 PHOTO COURTESY OF PETER BREGG

days, and it was a hard: “No” - not all her friends are wealthy. “The majority of my friends I have known for 20 plus years. I love meeting new people. But the closest to me are people that have been in my life for decades.”

Suzanne met her best friend Jennifer when they were in grade eight. When the young women were 18 Jennifer worked in Paris for a period of time as a nanny. She had her own tiny nanny suite and Suzanne came to visit her for a few weeks, where they would often go out to the clubs in Paris. With limited funds, the girls had to strategize their evenings; they either shared a meal, or took a cab ride home, they couldn't afford both.

There was a time when Suzanne and Jennifer tried to get into the Ritz Hotel lobby: “We were dressed up, but you could tell... maybe it was the fake plastic purses ... they didn't let us into the lobby of the Ritz. Then about 15 years ago during Fashion Week I took her and we stayed there. Amazing how my life had changed. But I was just as happy at 18 ... and appreciated both experiences.”

Today as part of a well known, iconic family, everything you do can be under scrutiny. Suzanne admits she felt some vulnerable moments, especially at the beginning of her marriage. Her fatherin-law Ted Rogers, who she describes as: “a lovely man, kind and the best

Fashion whispered in my life somehow.

father-in-law a girl could have” gave her some advice. Her fashion style and beauty often brought the attention of media and photographers. He said: “Be photographed for the work you do ... be the most important person in the room because of what you do, not because of what you wear.”

I believe people are revealed through their actions and what they contribute, more than their words. One of the privileges of wealth brings the freedom to choose what you do with your time. To honour her father's grave and the other men who died in the mines, each year on April 28th, on the National Day of Mourning this miner's daughter makes the time to take a trip back home to Elliot Lake to visit Miners' Memorial Park.

Perhaps this small but important act gives us a closer glimpse into the woman who is - Suzanne Rogers.■

Aida Memisevic is a TedX speaker, journalist and executive producer focusing on mindset and wellness based television shows, films and digital content.

Rogers Family Photo - 2011 PHOTO COURTESY OF TERESA BARBIERI Suzanne and Jennifer in Paris, Two Moments in Time PHOTO COURTESY OF SUZANNE ROGERS

More than an energy shift, We need a paradigm shift

In the effort to limit and reverse the worsening impacts of global heating, the immediate goal is to quickly stop burning coal, oil and gas. That means rapidly shifting to renewable energy for electricity generation and transportation.

But simply switching from one source of energy to another and trading gas-powered cars, trucks and SUVs for electric ones won’t resolve the climate crisis — as important as those are. The interrelated environmental crises — deforestation, species extinction, climate change — are being driven by wasteful consumerism. Getting off fossil fuels poses more of a challenge if we continue to consume massive amounts of disposable products and energy.

As Andrew Nikiforuk recently wrote in the Tyee, “Any imperfect solution to our current civilization-threatening predicament must include dialing down our energy consumption rather than coming up with high-tech visions that keep accelerating it.” That includes the energy and materials used to produce growing mountains of disposable products, from smartphones to cars to clothing.

Almost everything we produce requires minerals and metals, which must be mined — including wind turbines and solar panels. If we continue to use electronic gizmos that must be replaced every year or two, and if we continue to insist that most people should have a couple of tonnes of metal, plastic and glass to move a hundred or so kilos of human, rather than building reliable transit systems and walkable communities, building out renewable energy might slow our descent but won’t save us from calamity.

That isn’t an argument against renewable energy, which is absolutely necessary.

Coal, oil and gas are also mined, cause massive damage to air, water, land and climate and put all life at risk. But we can’t continue to thrive in a system that depends on constant growth on a finite planet — population growth, economic growth, ever-increasing consumption. We need unlimited sunlight and wind for energy, but we have to recognize that finite resources are required to utilize that energy.

We’ve been misled into believing that endlessly chasing after more, bigger, shinier things will bring us satisfaction and happiness when, in fact, it’s often the opposite. Our Sisyphean struggle has left us tired and alienated, created massive inequality and pushed us toward ecological collapse.

We need a paradigm shift.

Getting by with less doesn’t mean living less satisfying lives. It’s a question of what we value. We’ve been indoctrinated into believing that wealth and power are the ultimate goals, but only a minuscule percentage of the growing human population truly benefits from that, and the “trickle down” economic theory has always been a hoax.

If we truly valued the short time we each spend on this planet, we surely wouldn’t waste it to wreak misery and destruction in pursuit of elusive goals. We’d learn to find joy in family, friendship and nature, in learning and sharing.

Working ourselves to exhaustion and jetting off to some increasingly crowded resort area for a couple of weeks to recover can’t be what life is about. Does

Getting along with less doesn't mean living less satisfying lives.

dining on burgers and steaks make us any happier than enjoying healthy plantbased foods? It certainly doesn’t make us healthier. Does staring at a tiny device all day make us feel any more connected and satisfied with our lives than actually getting together with real people in real time, or taking in the quiet beauty of nature?

Industrialization, and especially car culture, were sold to us under false premises, fuelling a crisis that now threatens our survival. We’re not going to go back to the way things were, nor should we. But we can progress to better ways of living.

That will require quitting fossil fuels as quickly as possible and shifting to renewable energy. But we must also learn to use less. Energy efficiency is part of that, but reducing what we use is critical, especially in the western world, where per capita energy consumption is many times higher than in other parts of the world.

We’re capable of great technological innovation, but that alone isn’t enough to create a better world.

As Nikiforuk writes, “In blunt terms we need an energy strategy that pointedly shrinks economic activity over time the same way chemotherapy effectively diminishes a cancerous tumor.”

We might be surprised to find that our lives will improve if we do.■



A photographer, designer, and traveler, Sabrina is passionate about seeing the world and learning through other cultures, people, and experiences. Her goal is to capture the beauty of other countries and inspire other people to travel the world.

Find out more at www.sabrinarossi.ca.

Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan Queenstown, New Zealand
Sydney, Australia
Rishikesh, India Cape Town, South Africa Shanghai, China Kaohsiung City, Taiwan Budapest, Hungary

The Dali Exhibit at Brookfield Place

Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) was a Spanish surrealist artist known for his eccentricity and imaginative works, such as "The Persistence of Memory," featuring melting clocks.

Istepped into the surreal world of Salvador Dali at the mesmerizing exhibit recently gracing the halls of Brookfield Place in Toronto. As I wandered through this first-ever exhibition in this space, I couldn't help but be captivated by the magical atmosphere that unfolded before my eyes.

Brookfield Place, with its lofty ceilings and abundant natural light, proved to be the perfect setting for Dali's extraordinary works. Divided into three immersive rooms, the exhibit invited visitors on a journey through the realms of Dante's ‘Inferno’, as interpreted by the master of Surrealism himself.

I found myself first witnessing Dali's Inferno, a vivid depiction of torment and anguish. The intensity of the artwork was palpable, as if I had been transported through a portal to another world. Moving on to Purgatory, the mood shifted, offering

glimpses of hope and redemption amidst the ethereal landscapes.

Finally, I reached Paradise, a place where Dali's imagination knew no bounds. It was a whimsical playground, filled with bizarre creatures and fantastical landscapes that brought a smile to my face. I couldn't help but feel the joy and wonder that radiated from every stroke of Dali's brush.

This exhibition not only showcased Dali's artistic genius but also highlighted the deep connection between Brookfield Place and the history and impact of his art and life. It offered a unique opportunity to step into the mind of a true visionary.

I will be forever grateful for my unforgettable visit to this extraordinary exhibition in which I became lost in Salvador Dali’s wondrous worlds of Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise.■

Painting: Farinata or "Inferno" (credit: MutualArt), Salvador Dali Painting: Purgatory (credit: Artsy) Salvador Dali Painting: Ecstasy or Paradise (credit: Eames Fine Art), Salvador Dali
Painting: The Persistence of Memory Salvador Dali

An Urban Beach Community Like No Other

As a member of the Provincial Parliament for Beaches-East York, I am proud to represent a riding that includes a unique and beloved urban beach retreat. A wide and beautiful curve of sand that curls the shore from Ashbridge’s Bay at the foot of Coxwell Avenue to Kew Beach; it beckons both locals and visitors alike.

The Uber popular three-kilometer stretch along Lake Ontario in Toronto’s East End boasts a swimming beach listed as a Blue Flag Beach. That means the beach meets strict water quality and safety criteria. You can swim in this area of Lake Ontario and lifeguards are on duty during the summer months. Stand Up paddle boards, kayaks, and far off sailboats dot the horizon. Dogs aplenty, bird watching serenity, urban wildlife spotting, and even fishing, all make up what I love about our Beach. Ashbridge’s Bay is a fabulous vantage point to take in a sunset with the Toronto skyline in the background.

With an accessible ramp to the water and a beach wheelchair that can be rented for free by calling 311 in Toronto and picked up at Woodbine Beach, we are striving to meet the needs of all. Accessibility is always top of mind as are the offerings to our youth and senior pop-


ulation! On the other side of the historic wooden boardwalk (that runs the length of the beach, perfect for leisurely strolls) is The Woodbine Beach Bike Trail and part of the Martin Goodman Trail. While this is a multi-recreational thoroughfare, it’s mostly used by cyclists and runners.

The entire Martin Goodman pathway stretches along the Toronto waterfront for almost 56 kilometres; a great local option is to ride your bike from Ashbridges Bay to the Balmy Beach Canoe Club.

The most photographed and iconic landmark on the Beach is likely the Leuty lifeguard station. Over 100 years old, it became a protected structure under Ontario Heritage Act in 1993. You can practically hear decades of stories if you listen carefully. The Boardwalk first appeared in the 1850s. Early settlers in the Ashbridges Bay area built plank walkways between the cabins when mud and water made it hard for walking.

The Leuty Boathouse was built in 1932. Today the Leuty Boat House is full of colour! In 2021, artists Jacquie Comrie and Chief Lady Bird were commissioned to fill the space with colour and happiness! In the 1940s the boathouse was originally much closer to the lake, and it was often used by the community as a dance hall. Colour makes us feel great and dancing makes us feel amazing! Kick up your heels and let yourself have fun in the boathouse! Foxtrot anyone?

Close by is the Beach Skateboard Park. The connection between graffiti, street art and skateboarding goes back decades, and so when the city of Toronto installed a skate park in Ashbridges Bay Park, it only made sense to have some of the city’s best street artists give it some colour!

The summer picture I’ve painted is warm and rich; however, it’s the winter months that truly offer warmth at Woodbine Beach! As City Councillor for Beaches-East York from 2010-2018, I visioned, advocated for, and was an integral part of the inception of Winter Stations in 2015. The installations along Woodbine Beach are constructed around the lifeguard stations and are on public display for 6 weeks in the winter months. They have had an immense impact on bringing people out not only during the cold months but additionally and recently during the most challenging times of the

pandemic to fight isolation. Their role in our recovery period was so vital!

As the Liberal critic for Tourism, Culture, and Sport, I want to see Winter Stations continue to enhance the effects of their attraction to bring together local, domestic, and global visitors. Winter stations on the beach are, and have always been, more than simply a tourism experience or event. They offer solace, beauty, and hope to so many and create amazing opportunities for artists and producers.

They are anticipated yearly, environmentally sustainable, and are positioned to flourish and evolve!

How fitting that 2023’s Winter Stations' chosen theme was Radiance. Nothing will stop the positive ripple effect of these installations from emanating what is in our hearts and minds. We all want to celebrate gratitude for a world that is resilient and shines; on and off the beach.

This is an experience like no other.■

It's the winter months that truly offer warmth at Woodbine Beach!

Music for Healing

It is believed by both scientists and spiritual teachers that music has healing benefits. When asked how I meditate, I reply that I sing. The painter will draw. The martial artist will practice kata. The boxer will kick a punching bag. The swimmer will take laps in the pool. The dancer will choreograph and put on a show. What we do not realize is that many of those physical activities originate from ancient yoga. And meditation and healing can take different forms! Therapy can also take different forms!

Why is music healing? Because the sound harmonizes our energy centers or chakras. It is believed that each note corresponds to the chakra it harmonizes. The entire uni-verse is a song. Music is the melody of the soul. It knows no cultural barriers and unites us all. It heals us. From Gregorian chants to yogic sounds, from organ church music to drum circles, from native Indian instruments to operatic music and modern day ballads, everything we hear heals us. All musical instruments including the human voice heal us!

When we look at the scientific evidence we see that playing a musical instrument before the age of 7 years significantly affects the wiring of the brain, helping to develop more neuronal connections between the left and right sides of the brain, and making a child excel both at the sciences and the arts. It has a similar impact when introduced at a later age as well. In fact the neuroscientists confirm that playing an instrument is a better exercise for the brain than scientifically-developed brain games. High school students do better at math after taking music classes. And music therapy is used to sooth premature babies and help with memory for the elderly in nursing homes. There is even evidence that daily singing helps in recovery from breast cancer as singing can improve our immune response!

Music also helps to develop our linguistic center making us better at communication and languages.

So what happens when we sing? When we speak we only use the top one third of our lungs. When we sing we use our full lung capacity. What this means is that we are pumping oxygen to the brain and

…music is the greatest gift to humanity throughout history, and the best healing tool available to mankind…
…singing will indeed improve your memory and your sleep, calm your worries and keep you looking young…!

Tatevik Sarkisyan is a vocalist/ songwriter/ producer/ writer/ designer/ stylist/ art director/ health & business educator/ music & happiness coach based in Toronto. She is the author of the program “Living from the Soul Light”.

body cells. We are oxygenating them. So if we want to stay sharp and look young we should sing! Using abdominal breathing just as we do in yoga promotes deep relaxation. If you are yawning during your singing classes it’s because your full body relaxes as it also bathes in the vibrations of the beautiful sounds you’re making. Singing will indeed improve your memory and your sleep, calm your worries and keep you looking young! It’s healthy for the heart and lungs and deep down to the cellular level. As an exercise and sleep improver it also contributes to developing new brain cells in the hypocampus.

As a physical activity it will help move and unblock energy in our energy centres. Also since we are working directly with the throat energy center it will help improve thyroid health, empower us to express ourselves creatively and even prevent common colds. The vocal warm ups we do are coming from yoga and not only do they improve immunity, they harmonize us with all creation. When we sing our bodies also release endorphins, happiness hormones, so we enter into a state of ease and joy and doing that regularly helps bring more positive experiences into our daily lives! And when we are happy and smile we pass it on to others!

Music is the best tool to develop connections with our fellow human beings! Not only is music the only activity that activates the entire brain but it also takes us away from our rational minds and activates the emotive part of the brain. And that’s the part responsible for our emotions, for our feelings, and connections with others. When we sing together or dance together or attend a concert or listen together to music we develop deeper connections with each other. We develop heart to heart bonds. It also helps to regulate our emotions.

What can be more beautiful than music? Music is the greatest gift to humanity throughout history, and the best healing tool available to mankind. While love is the energy of the soul, music is the melody and the language of the soul. They go hand in hand as all music is created with love. In the beginning there was a word. And it turned into a song! And that song is the Uni-verse!■

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Canada's Fastest-Rising Wine Star's Holiday Picks

When Waterfront Magazine asked me to introduce Sommelier and Media Personality Renee Sferrazza and get her thoughts on best beverages for the season, I was thrilled to do it. I have worked on a few projects with Renee over recent months and have come to realize that it is possible to have great wine knowledge & talent AND humility in the same package. You can get to know her and wines better on the “Liquid Pleasures” channel on YouTube, where one fan (@Amandaloveslife421) summed her up beautifully with one comment: “Gotta love Renee! She’s so lovely and takes the pomp and circumstance out of the equation, which I adore.”

As a Court of the Master Sommeliers Certified Sommelier, your first instinct might be to stand back a bit to see exactly where Renee lands on the pretentious scale. But there is no need; kind, fun loving Renee has made wine her life’s work! She’s also a qualified and experienced bartender, loves people and lives in a gorgeous townhouse near Trinity Bellwoods in Toronto with her life partner and her dog, Togo. I met up with her there, where she warmly greeted me, offering me, of course, a delicious glass of wine. After some dog-love and a friendly catch-up, we got down to the business at hand.

Q: Renée, you are really exposing different wines on so many platforms, what’s the best way to get your take on great bottles?

Renée: Well, you can find my work in a lot of places, to name a few I’m a regular on two morning shows in Canada, I will now be a regular contributor to Waterfront (what a great magazine!) but probably the best way is a YouTube channel I appear on regularly called Liquid Pleasures. The team there does great work and knows how to promote! I’m really proud of the work I’m doing there.

Q: I want you to fill my wine rack with exactly what I need this season to cover everything, can you do it?

Renée: The first wine I will comment on is the one I poured you, and I honestly don’t think you can do the Holiday season without a good rosé! This is the Lucy's Block 2022 Rosé

by Quails' Gate made from a block of vines named after the grandmother of the winery owner, Lucy Mary Whitworth, and is a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from South Kelowna. I’ll talk more about this winery later, but this wine is driven by popping red berry fruit notes in the glass and accentuated by a fresh and inviting flavour. It’s a little celebration in a glass which I would definitely serve as a cocktail / sipping wine.

For a sparkling wine that is a memorable gift, I usually look to adjacent sparkling wine regions that don't always get the attention they deserve. This means you are getting two things with a bottle of bubbles: a great deal and something with great care and intention in its craftsmanship.

Another style of traditional method bubbly I live for is Franciacorta. From the Lombardy region of Italy, Franciacorta is sunnier in the glass than Champagne and more textural than Cava. I always gravitate towards the Ca' del Bosco Cuvée Prestige Extra Brut Franciacorta, usually out at the end of the year.

Next, I would say that you should always have an easy-drinking red and a white over the holidays, and I am a big fan of doing complementary wines for moments like these. If you serve them simultaneously, you have a complete story to tell with two bottles. Bourgogne, aka Burgundy, is a region in France that always delivers, even for the entry-level wines. The wines from this famed French region are based on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

In the region's northern reaches, in Chablis, you will find an expression of Chardonnay that is bright, mineral-driven and filled with brightness. The William


Fevre Petit Chablis is an excellent introduction to the brilliant and lively wines of Chablis. It is great with nibbles and bites or just all on its own.

You don't have to look far to find great and impressive wines.

Southbound in Bourgogne proper is where you will find red wine made with Pinot Noir that can range in expression up to the Grand Cru classifications. But a good Pinot for the region, to show typicity on the whole, is the Albert Bichot Bourgogne Pinot Noir AOC. This wine has berry fruit and purple flower aromas intermingling with twiggy and earthen notes. This is a great complement to a Thanksgiving feast.

These wines are approachable as we treat ourselves and loved ones for the holidays. These are bottles that you could grab a half-case of to keep on hand, depending on how much entertaining you do.

Next, you really need to have those wines to impress, whether it’s your boss, your in-laws, or your wine-loving friends. Contrary to some assumptions, we make some impressive wines in Canada, so you don't have to look far to find great and impressive wines and here are two that I highly recommend. They are a fabulous example of the deliciousness made on the sloped and lake-facing vineyards of Kelowna in BC's Okanagan wine region. They have

great variety of options that fit the region's style in the glass and they definitely over-deliver.

I really enjoy the Quails's Gate 2022 Clone 220 Chenin Blanc. This wine brings in a bit of wine geekiness, using the Loire Chenin Blanc Clone 220, but the vineyard has been nurtured by the winery for 20 years. This small-batch wine is fermented and aged in concrete eggs, filled with aromas of elderflowers, wet stone, lime and fresh white flowers. It is a textured wine on the palate with hints of tropical notes and a dynamic finish.

For the red, I’d recommend the 2021 Queue by Quails' Gate, this great pour combines Rhône and Bordeaux grapes. It is a winemaker's composition using Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah from the winery's estate vineyards. On the nose, this wine is a rich blend of spice, dark cocoa, dark fruit and violet notes. On the palate, you experience pepper notes with supple tannins and an exquisite finish. This wine stands up beautifully with a roast dinner or game meat or, for the vegetarians in your life, go with a roasted mushroom dish!

These are five wines to have on hand if you want to shop once and be covered, after all, the Holidays are about taking time with friends and family, not worrying about what to serve them! ENJOY!■


Cruising the Baltic Sea is the Ultimate Voyage

If a cruise is on your bucket list, consider a Nordic cruise sailing the Baltic Sea. While there are many cruise options on the planet, a voyage on the Baltic Sea offers perhaps the best of all worlds – including spectacular nature, historic cities, cultural diversity and Viking history.

This summer, I sailed the Baltic Sea with Viking, one of the world’s leading exploration companies, on their new Viking Mars ocean cruise ship. It was my first ocean cruise and, although I have sailed on the Danube (also with Viking) a few years ago, I knew I would be in good hands on this ocean voyage. The Viking Mars, launched in May 2022, is considered a small ship, carrying 930 passengers. Our cruise itinerary was the Viking Homelands, tracing the roots of the Vikings, which is notable as Viking celebrates its 26th anniversary this year.

One big benefit of a Nordic cruise on the Baltic Sea is that you visit several Scandinavian and European countries, including islands, in a short period of time. You see many historic and charming cities and sites, experience cultural and culinary diversity, and can also do outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking and fishing.

Our Viking Homelands itinerary sailed from Stockholm, Sweden to Bergen, Norway (15 days, 6 countries). I boarded the ship in Stockholm where we set sail on the Baltic Sea. Ports of call included: Mariehamn, the capital of the Åland Islands (Finland); Gdańsk, Poland; Rønne, Bornholm, Denmark; Warnemünde (for Berlin), Germany; Copenhagen and Ålborg, Denmark; Oslo, Stavanger, Eidfjord and Bergen, Norway. In Germany, passengers took a train to Berlin for the day. I disembarked

These cities are teeming with maritime history.

in Warnemünde (I was only on segment #1 of the itinerary) and travelled by train to Berlin for a night and departed for home, while the ship continued to Norway. I saw much in just a few days.

A key advantage of cruising the Baltic is the fact that the cities you visit are all conveniently located on the waterfront and the ship’s dock near the city or in the downtown harbour, such as Stockholm (except for Germany’s Warnemünde port, which is quite far from Berlin). This allows you to get off the ship quickly and start exploring straight away, with no time wasted. Also, these cities are teeming with maritime history.

The Baltic Sea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, is mostly calm because it is sheltered from open waters by primarily Scandinavian countries, an important feature for travellers who are concerned about motion sickness. Our cruise had one day that the sea was a bit choppy; otherwise it was smooth sailing. And, in terms of climate, Northern Europe is generally cooler than other parts of Europe, which may be preferable for some outdoor enthusiasts and those who wish to avoid the heat. Weather conditions in summer and fall are warm and pleasant, but it can be unpredictable and windy. On our summer-time Nordic cruise, we had rainy days that were chilly, and days that were sunny and warm. The temperature ranged from 16C to 23C.

Probably the greatest reason of all to take a Nordic cruise is that it offers spectacular natural vistas, including the breathtaking Norwegian fjords. The best way to view the fjords is on the water. As well, depending on the weather and time of year, it could be an excellent way to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). As you sail, you will also view awe-inspir-

ing landscapes along the coastlines, such as the picturesque Swedish coast, as well as the maze of islands scattered throughout the Baltic.

By sailing in the Baltic, you get the opportunity to discover Viking history, which has long fascinated our Western culture. The Vikings originated from Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway and Sweden) and eventually spread across Europe. Today, there are Viking sites and museums, and other historic seafaring sites in Scandinavia that are both fascinating and educational. Some of the outstanding Viking and maritime museums to visit include the Vasa Museum in Stockholm that houses the Vasa warship, the Norwegian Maritime Museum and Denmark’s Viking Ship Museum.

Lastly, taking a Nordic cruise – your floating hotel - may be not only a con-

venient way of seeing Scandinavia, it may also, quite possibly, be easier on the wallet than vacationing on the ground, as Scandinavian countries are quite expensive. So, it actually may be a more affordable way of seeing this part of the world. Of course, that depends on the cruise, itinerary and size of your wallet.

If it is time for your ship to sail, let it be on the Baltic Sea. Bon voyage!

Shannon Skinner is an award-winning inspirational television host, producer, author, speaker and travel writer. She is based in Toronto. shannon@shannonskinner.com.■


Where's the Party?

Guests at the gala. Former mayor John Ortner with hosts. Winner of Women in Governance. Guest at fashion show. Guests at Motionball Models from Startup Fashion Week PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF JOHN ORTNER Founder Women in Governance Caroline Codsi left with friends.
Paul Mason Centre with Guests Shawn Cuffie & Patricia Jaggernauth. VIPs at Black Diamond ball. TIFF Cameron Bailey with Korea director. Roger Gingerich with friends. Guests at The Rescue Party. Guest at Trend Hunter Future Festival. Host Kardinal Offishall. Glenn Dixion, Glen Baxter and friend Glen Baxter & Susan Langdon. Wine Sisters Erin and Courtney Henderson. Guests at Cashmere Party
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