Healthy interest

It was interesting to read the article on the proposed McGill University Health Centre in the Fall'98 issue. I hope that the site will be in or near downtown Montreal. It would be a shame to see this new facility contribute to flight from the city to the suburbs. It was stated that a 20-storey building was not desired. I would rather see a 20-storey hospital downtown than a three-storey campus in some bland suburban setting.

Another concern is the reuse of the old hospital properties. The fate of the Montreal General and Montreal Children's is of little concern to me, given their stark post-war design. However, the Montreal Neuro and especially the Royal Victoria Hospital are irreplaceable examples of turn-of-the-century and early 20th century Montreal architecture. Hopefully McGill can reuse the facilities of these two institutions for academic and residential purposes. They have always been essentially "on campus" anyway.

Thomas W. McCarthy, MBA'76
Harrisburg, Pa.

Ed note: The official announcement of the MUHC site was made in November. details, see the Newsbites section which follows.

Establishing credit

It is a pleasure to hear that the new athletic facilities are becoming a reality at McGill. I read the last issue of McGill News carefully and was pleased to see mention made of the students' contribution to the project.

In the early 1980s, a few dedicated students, led by Lori Henritzy, BSc'82, MDCM'88, successfully organized the original referendum to increase the student body fees to jump start the much needed development of new athletic facilities. At the time, little more than idealism, a "can-do" attitude and a lot of legwork made the referendum a success. We hoped that if the student body dedicated some funds toward the project, the University and other benefactors would join in the effort. This was seen as "seed money," which was to be a substantial part of the expense of a new facility.

This dream becoming a reality caps off my experience of McGill, where a small band of students can lead the way to a major project. Perhaps Lori deserves some recognition for beginning the stream of more than 25% of the funding of this complex. She loved sports and wanted to see this dream realized. I doubt she would volunteer this information about the role she played in the funding of these facilities.

Glen Kielland Ward, BSc'82, MDCM'86, PhD'90
White Rock, B.C.

I have just finished reading the summer edition of the McGill News and was pleased to see that the Students' Society of McGill University was recognized for its large contribution to the libraries. However, I was quite disappointed to find that the person who did most of the work to spearhead that project, Steven Erdelyi, was not mentioned at all.

Steven was extremely committed to McGill during the time that he spent there, and I had the privilege of working with him on more than one occasion. He deserves much of the credit for the Library Improvement Fund.

Angela Dalfen, BA'97
via e-mail

Brownie points

While I am happy that Phyllis Buchanan's Palmer Cox material has made its way to a public collection in Canada, the paragraph on Cox in Treasure Trove: from Newton to Napoleon (Summer'98) contains several inaccuracies.

The Brownies were not a marketing sensation in the 1920s and '30s, but rather in the 1880s and '90s. Cox began to develop what we now refer to as licensing in 1885. As his Brownie books became popular, he was able, with the help of new copyright laws, to protect and profit from his creations. Authors from that time forward had another form of income.

To distinguish between Cox's activities and today's free-wheeling licensing mania, it should be remembered that he was one of the few children's authors who was both popular and critically accepted. Acceptance was necessary before any possibilities could be found in advertising or as a brand.

Cox's Brownies were imitated more often than he licensed them. Cox did not give permission for a Brownie brand soda, maple syrup or ice cream. A figural carpet (not carpeting) was produced in the mid-1890s and Brownie paper dolls (with Cox's copyright) could be found inside packages of Lion Coffee during the same period. However, several other coffee companies produced unauthorized doll inserts for their brands. The Brownie camera was named for the Brownies, but no proof of permission has ever been found.

Finally, we must be careful in describing Brownies as fairies. They are Brownies (who are male) and in Cox's mind fairies are female. A folklorist would acknowledge that Brownies constitute part of the fairy world, but they are not fairies.

Wayne Morgan
Grimsby, Ont.

Ed note: Mr. Morgan contributed an essay to the catalogue prepared for the exhibition, "The Brownie World of Palmer Cox," mounted by McGill's Division of Rare Books and Special Collections last year.

Help is at hand

The otherwise excellent article on Researchers in the Media in the Fall'98 issue seems incomplete without at least a mention of the assistance available from the University Relations Office. We offer media training, publish tips for handling interviews and respond to hundreds of media requests, both on the phone and on the Web, throughout the year. While part of our job is to get McGill people and McGill issues into the public forum, we can also protect those who feel overwhelmed. Help is available not only in publicizing research breakthroughs but also in following up.

If any McGill professor needs friendly, experienced advice or a process for responding to media demands, the University Relations Office is ready, willing and able to offer a hand.

Kate Williams, DipTrans'78
Director, University Relations Office

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Due to an unfortunate mix-up, we reported the death of Mary (Irvine) Wilson, BLS'47, in our Summer'98 issue. We are delighted to learn that she is in fact alive and well in Ottawa. We regret the error and the distress it has caused Ms. Wilson, her family and friends.