The Metropolitain: Tributes to Wednesday Night II

Written by  //  December 1, 2010  //  Gerald Ratzer, Guy Stanley, Special Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

A magnificent and unanticipated pleasure!
By Prof. Guy Stanley
The Italian historian Benedatta Craveri remarks in l’Âge de la conversation (Gallimard 2002) that the conversation of the Salon over the course of a century or more, beginning in the 17th century after the the French wars of religion, developed a civilizing ideal of social conduct based on courtesy and mutual pleasure. Over the course of its development, as other historians noted (e.g. Anne Martin Fugier in her account of Les salons de la Troisième Républic (Perrin/Tempus 2009)) the ideal of sociable conversation deepened as participation broadened to include writers, artists, and politicians. In the WN salon, participants include –besides the above–occasional special guests, economists, investment counsellors, fund managers, engineers, physicians, scientists, professors and …neighbours, friends, friends of friends, and refreshingly, often the children of participants. The ideals of sociability rule as issues are discussed and Chairman David Nicholson keeps the proceedings moving a-clip under the watchful eye of his accomplished spouse, Diana. The conversation, while well-informed, is not infrequently informed as well by passion—for justice, for reason, even for factual accuracy—as well as the delight of spirited interchange and occasional bon mots.
My introduction to the WN Salon came in the mid 1990 when, as a prof at HÉC, I was invited to tag along with a colleague. The price of entry was a bottle of wine and, for someone relatively new to Montréal at the time, the accent on sociability was evident in the warm reception accorded me by the far more experienced veterans. A magnificent and totally unanticipated pleasure that continues was the evening they introduced me to the woman who subsequently became my wonderful wife, Yvette. So I guess it’s fair to say that WN changed my life dramatically and very much for the better.
Over the course of the last 15 years, although I have missed many a WN, the hosts never have: rather, they have unfailingly opened their doors, maintained a web site, and ensured the participation of a well-seasoned mixture of guests literally every WN of every year, with the exception of some holidays. As a devoted participant, I offer my deepest appreciation for the privilege Diana and David have accorded me over the years and salute them for their extraordinary contribution to the quality of life in Montreal, Québec and Canada. Bravo and Congratulations on WN 1500!

1500 Wednesdays
By Prof. Gerald Ratzer
David and Diana Nicholson have to be congratulated for what is clearly a record setting contribution to the social and intellectual fabric of Montreal.  From what started as an after-class get together with her McGill professor Carl Begie over a drink, this has expanded into a well researched and documented salon, few in the world can revival.

Both David and Diana have web sites with invitations, links to articles, photos, videos, charts and more.  To manage to do this for 1500 Wednesdays and attract high level individuals with international connections and opinions has added to the world view which their salon provides.  No matter whether a Wednesday falls on Christmas, New Year, or any other important day, David and Diana would open their lovely home on Rosemount Avenue and invite in an interesting group of people from their wide circle of friends.
From my own background, I draw an analogy of the Wednesday Night experience to dining at high table at an Oxford or Cambridge college.  Each time you go you know you will be meeting some well known friends and also some new faces.  Each time there will be an interesting intellectual discussion, most likely on a topic which is outside your own field of expertise.  This is your chance to learn from other experts and discuss topics from many different areas.  The analogy goes further in the David and Diana has participated at many Oxford and Cambridge events in Montreal, and in fact hosted the Fall Oxbridge cocktail party at their Rosemount home, just three days before they moved!
Their contribution has been outstanding and I will vote that they both be put forward for the Order of Canada.

It changes lives
By Katherine Waters
My husband David and I weren’t sure what to expect at our first Wednesday Night. We’d heard that several economists, stockbrokers, investment counsellors, bankers attended. Would a journalist and an English Lit professor of socialist inclinations and little disposable income fit in? Well, the “business world” people were not only interesting, but articulate and witty. And there were plenty of attendees with political, social, and human rights concerns and expertise. And most of all there was David, our courtly and intellectually curious moderator; and Diana, passionate, informed, and charming. If Dick Cheney had attended, it might have changed his life!

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