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The China Adventures Of Arielle Gabriel

The Canada Adventures of Arielle Gabriel

Aunt Cathy: A Top Career Woman

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Catherine was a powerful Toronto career woman.

She was the first woman to have her own advertising agency.  She entered the career world of Toronto when there were very few woman, soe she had little or almost no competition from other women.  She handled famous accounts; The Park Plaza Hotel, Ravi Shankar who was an Indian musician, and the cosmetics firm of Max Factor.

I saw her for the first time when she arrived in a black tax cab for a visit to our suburban house at 14 Hansen Street, Pointe Claire, Montreal.  She certainly looked different from all our other suburban mothers in her black business suit, with its fitted jacket and tight pencil skirt.

The historical family story on her seemed suspect to me, even when I was a child. "She never married," said Mom, " Because she was so sad after her brother died."  Uncle Murray died of leukemia, in his twenties, when he was still a medical student in Toronto. This had no connect to me.

My dad told me a couple of stories about her. "I was in Mexico City, and went to a Canadian Embassy Party, and saw Aunt Cathy there! What s surprise."  In that my father rarely went to Mexico, this story baffled me.  It was his membership in 101 Men's Clubs that allowed his invitation, but Cathy?

It must have been a July 1st party, our Canada Day Party.  I was impressed with the travel adventures of my own ancestors, though many were selfish people, who were people, who were almost never there, when I suffered money or medical problems. (Though I do not like to malign my own family, it's an insult to the friends and lovers who have loved me not to mention this.)

Later on I would see her home in Toronto, a large apartment, with a corridor that ran the length, like a train, but full of antique furniture, spindly and conservative.

She had a large office of her own in the Park Plaza Hotel, I think, within walking distance of her luxurious apartment in downtown Toronto.

For all her love of her own brother, she avoided my beloved grandmother, Violet, whose youthful scandals gave some more conservative relatives a reason to avoid her. Of course, from the tone of my writing,I always am with my grandmother, whom I admire endlessly, and is always with me.

I saw little of her, as my more humble relatives, Aunt Jen and Uncle Lou, were more hospitable to a young teen working as an usherette at the Imperial Theatre on Yonge Street.

There was no trace of a boyfriend anywhere in Aunt Cathy's life, though there was a long time female assistant, who poured tea for us, and even travelled with Catherine to Europe. It made me sad to think that Catherine perhaps stayed away from other relatives because she preferred females to males as lovers. I kept my thoughts to myself.

I liked my first picture of my notable Toronto aunt. Opening the taxi door, and appearing in regal splendour to Mom and me in our mother-and-daughter t-shirts, pedal pushers from Eaton's basement sales, and rubber flip flop shoes from Woolworth's.

Of course, she wore high heels, and carried a light briefcase.  Her hair was done in a chignon, and she wore light make-up with red lipstick.  I was very impressed, she seemed to  have landed from a different planet.

The planet of Toronto Career Women.

A place that I would never make it to, yet record for posterity. Sitting in a large computer room in Hong Kong, wondering whether I would ever see my native land again, still wearing cheap clothing, and only my hair the same as Aunt Cathy's, pulled back in a chignon, showing my unmade-up face.

Lamma Island * Lantau Island * Cheung Chau Island
Hong Kong * Mui Wo * Peng Chau Island
Tung Chung * Shenzhen * Nanning * Hunan Province
Bobcaygeon * Pointe Claire * Montreal
Peterborough * Lake Sturgeon * Ontario
Vancouver * Richmond * British Columbia

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The China Adventures Of Arielle Gabriel

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