Genevieve P.M. Roy and her nail polish art collection

Nail Polish Art: Inspiration in a Small Bottle

There was a gathering at Galerie V-Trimont in Westmount on Friday, October 18th for a unique art collection that might be the first of its kind in Canada or even in the world: paintings done entirely with nail polish.

Festival of Lanterns

Festival of Lanterns

This beautiful art collection was created by Genevieve P.M.Roy, a local Montreal artist of French and Chinese heritage who I  met when I joined a Dragon Boat team a few years ago.  Roy greeted guests who sipped wine and munched on appetizers as they viewed paintings inspired by her passion for music, acting, and singing. The evening was definitely a family affair. Her mother, Quee Ying Wong, helped organize the evening and her father, Michel Roy officially opened the evening with a speech while her aunt, Jennifer Wong, sold raffle tickets at the door.

The paintings began as gifts to friends. It was while she was working on one such painting when she realized her nail polish was just the color she was looking for. She experimented with products from different companies and created works featuring vibrant color and glitter.

The vernissage was also a fund raiser. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the paintings and a souvenir book will be donated to the Shriners Hospital for Children which plans to open a new facility in Montreal in the fall of 2015. 

Roy is also a blogger and cultural reporter for Mountain Lake PBS. Visit her web site at


How to Turn a Soda Can into a Wheelchair

DSC03253Fundraising for Mount Sinai Hospital

On the first day of the school year my sister-in-law, Hilda, who works as a lunch monitor at an elementary school, gets unusual packages from some of the kids: they give her little bags filled with tabs from soda cans that they’ve collected over the summer.

When she has a boxful, she delivers them to the Mount Sinai Hospital in Montreal who sells them to a recycler.  The money they receive goes to support the hospital. It’s a cause Hilda has been promoting for the past ten years. The children at the school and the teachers love the idea of helping out someone in need. Our entire family regularly snaps off the little tabs before dropping the empty soda can into a recycling bin. I decided to follow her on a recent delivery and find out more about the program.

Hilda's collection jar

Hilda’s collection jar

The Auxiliary of the Mount Sinai Hospital runs the Can-tab program. Lorraine Caplan, Co-president of the Auxiliary, explained that they receive bags of can-tabs from as far away as Florida. Every few months, several huge bags are sent to a recycler who pays them $500 to $600. Only tabs from soda cans are accepted as they are pure aluminium.  When Hilda first started collecting can tabs, the money went towards buying wheelchairs. Now, the money is used to support music and art therapy at the hospital. The Auxiliary took on the responsibility of paying the therapists’ salaries ever since government cutbacks took effect.

So the next time you’re about to drop an empty soda can into the recycling bin, help The Mount Sinai Hospital by snapping off the tab.  It’ll help take some of the guilt off the empty calories. 🙂

Feasting on First Friday

A Food Truck Extravaganza

One of the best things that happened to Montreal this summer was the food trucks. I didn’t mind lining up for a half hour on a sunny day in the park to place my order. The food was always fresh and a delicious change from the usual fare at the food court. So when my copy editor, Virginia Modugno, mentioned that the food trucks congregate at the Olympic Stadium on the evening of the first Friday of every month, I had to go. It would be a chance to try out some trucks that I hadn’t yet visited.

Pulled pork sandwich

Pulled pork sandwich

It turned out that yesterday would be the last First Friday for the year. We got there around 5 p.m. Twenty-six trucks were already parked and serving early birds like us. We took our time to walk around and study the menus. Poutine with shitake and portobello mushrooms. Pulled pork sandwiches. Filet mignon sandwich made with artisan bread, cream cheese, onions, caramelized pepper, jalapeño and honey mustard. Braised duck wrap with green apples, Swiss cheese, mixed lettuce and Japanese vinaigrette. Lobster roll. Perogies with sour cream and blue cheese. Crab cake with Thousand Island dressing. Smoked meat sausage sandwich. Mac ‘n cheese tuna pie. Turnover style tourtière. Zucchini fries. Meatball taco, and much, much more.

Crab apple and Chantilly cream filled doughnut

Apple and Chantilly cream filled doughnut

While Virginia decided on a pulled pork sandwich, I decided to start with dessert. The chalkboard menu at Au pied de cochon listed an apple and Chantilly cream filled doughnut for $4. This was not going to be an evening to count calories.  I have no regrets. 🙂

Virginia and the pork belly lollipop

Virginia and the pork belly lollipop

Dessert was followed by a lobster roll for $10 from Lucille’s. Sorry, but I wolfed it down before I realized that I hadn’t taken a photo of it. The most interesting bite I had that evening was a pork belly lollipop soaked in maple syrup for $2 from Zoe’s. It sounds weird, but so good! Virginia decided on a Sloppy Mac which is a mac ‘n cheese with ground beef, chilli and bacon bits in a roll.

And hey, then it was time for dessert again! Deep fried cheesecake. Butternut pie. Peanut butter pie. Lots of stuff with maple syrup. I decided on the deep fried apple pie with caramel sauce and roasted pumpkin seeds for $6. I washed it all down with a Chai latte for $3 from a truck serving Indian cuisine.

Deep fried apple pie with roasted pumpkin seeds

Deep fried apple pie with caramel sauce and roasted pumpkin seeds

As the sun set, the plaza became crowded and the line-ups at the trucks longer. Reggae music took the chill out of the air. The family picnic atmosphere was enhanced by jugglers and clowns on stilts. Montreal has a lot of great festivals during the summer and I think First Friday is going to be one of my favourites.

We Love You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!

There’s one thing that David Chang, the main character in my book, Guitar Hero, and I have in common: it’s a love of Beatles music. I twisted and shouted to their songs as I grew up. My Chinese immigrant parents shook their heads in wonder when my brother, sister and I spent our allowance buying Beatles albums at the local Woolworth store. With my friends, Kim (blogger Tranquil Dreams; read her post about the exhibit here) and Jennifer, I got a chance to relive those times at the exhibit The Beatles in Montreal at Pointe-à-Callière museum.

Starting from the beginning as The Quarrymen, the exhibit tells their story through photos, memorabilia, posters, newspaper clippings and video clips which of course include their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. The museum also recreated the famous rooftop session at Apple Studio in London. By hanging the screen from the ceiling, it feels as if you’re on the street with the crowd that day on January 30, 1969. You also have the chance to be the 5th Beatle, that is, if you have the courage to sing karaoke in a museum so quiet you can hear a pin drop. (We faked it.) Equally fascinating is the video on how the museum installed John Lennon’s Rolls-Royce.

The details surrounding their performance at the Montreal Forum on September 8, 1964 are the stuff of entertainment talk shows, like how the fab four rested inside the Forum while a fake limousine with four police officers wearing wigs distracted two thousand screaming fans outside.

The exhibit is a real blast from the past and runs until March 30, 2014.

Recording the Voices of Chinese Immigrant Women in Canada

VPoyDr. Vivienne Poy launched her book, Passage to Promise Land: Voices of Chinese Immigrant Women to Canada last night at McGill University. The book tells the stories of twenty-eight women who immigrated to Canada between 1950 and 1989. The title, Dr. Poy pointed out, is not a typo. “Promise Land” is the name immigrant women gave to their newly adopted country. The book is based on the research Dr. Poy used for her PhD thesis with follow-up interviews on the progress of these women. There are few books about women immigrants, Dr. Poy said, which is why she focused on them. She added that it’s time to recognize that women immigrants helped build Canada. The book also highlights the growth of Chinese-Canadian communities from the end of World War II to today.

Dr. Vivienne Poy

Dr. Vivienne Poy

Dr. Poy was the first Canadian of Asian descent to be appointed to the Senate and was instrumental in having the month of May recognized as Asian Heritage Month.

The evening included a panel discussion during which Professor Grace Fong, Janet Lumb and Walter Tom, an immigration lawyer, discussed multicultural issues with moderators Rosel Kim and Katie Spillane.