Articles by Date

The Story of Us was not a failure: ask my kids

This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in June 2017.

Why do French Immersion, if it means more tutoring?

La problème (sic) avec French Immersion
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in March 2017.

What is a fit penalty when a driver takes a pedestrian’s life?

This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in December 2016.

Lunchtime lunacy

With nearly 100 kids per lunchroom supervisor, in a windowless basement, it's no wonder kids are not feeling the "wellness" the TDSB so hopes for
This article first appeared in Globe and Mail in November 2016.

Report cards are failing parents and their kids

This article first appeared in Globe and Mail in June 2016.

Concrete Jungle

Mixing philanthropy and public space together
This article first appeared in Corporate Knights in June 2016.

Canada’s two-tiered refugee system

Among the chaos, great generosity
This article first appeared in Globe and Mail in May 2016.

Bürger power

A nascent movement in Berlin wants to transform the municipal grid into a greener citizen-led co-op.
This article first appeared in Corporate Knights in March 2016.

Has Old-fashioned fun been trumped by fears of injury and liability?

This essay was first heard in CBC - Crosscountry Checkup in January 2016.

Neither Rhyme nor Reason to Ontario’s beer sales “shake-up”

This article first appeared in Globe and Mail in December 2015.

Shelf the Elf!

This article first appeared in Globe and Mail in December 2015.

Why the SUV mentality needs to change

Speed limits and stop signs can do only so much to control powerful vehicles. We need to look at their design - and drivers
This article first appeared in Globe and Mail in November 2015.

Banning cartwheels: what’s the point of recess with no fun?

“Nobody has ever hurt themselves,” says one of the prime offenders, a Grade 5 student who rock-climbs in her free time. “I was like, what the heck?!”
This article first appeared in Globe and Mail in October 2015.

Meddling billionaires

Their intentions are good, but when the super rich decide to back a cause, ego can sometimes undermine the hard work of NGOs.
This article first appeared in Corporate Knights in October 2015.

Sometimes there are monsters under your bed

When freelance producer Naomi Buck moved her two young children from Germany to her native Canada, she was struck by how cultural differences impacted her children's experiences on the playground - and beyond. She explores those differences in this week's documentary, "Sometimes there are monsters under your bed".
This essay was first heard in CBC in September 2015.

Best Summer Ever

There's no small irony in the fact that, while we love them to death, we're depriving our children of one of the richest aspects of our own childhoods: freedom.
This article first appeared in Cottage Life in July 2015.

Front Lines, Home Fires

In the early 1940s, the battlefields of Europe and the sunny shores of Muskoka were closer than they seemed
This article first appeared in Cottage Life in July 2015.

R.C. Harris: the man behind the Bloor Street Viaduct

Designed to transport water, traffic and electricity, it was built in 1918.
This article first appeared in Toronto Star in July 2015.

Slow Down

Toronto’s roads are the most perilous in the country for pedestrians. The solution is simple, smart and anathema to an already gridlocked city: make drivers slow down
This article first appeared in Toronto Life in May 2015.

Hot Topic

Should we bury nuclear waste near the Great Lakes?
This article first appeared in Cottage Life in May 2015.

Israel’s fountain of youth

An entrepreneurial shift among Israeli youth is helping to create a green oasis in a country worried about dependence on oil.
This article first appeared in Corporate Knights in March 2015.

The Conscience of a Nation

Monument to peaceful revolution a symbol of how Germans are still coming to term with the fall of the wall
This article first appeared in National Post in November 2014.

Raising a greener glass

Wine and beer drinkers have never had more variety when it comes to products boasting lower environmental impacts.
This article first appeared in Corporate Knights in June 2014.

Wireless: too much of a good thing?

Canadian schools are installing WiFi to give kids a competitive edge. Health authorities elsewhere recommend the opposite
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in May 2014.

Too much of nothing

Allow me, briefly, to rant. About a practice that’s spreading like mould in the world of email communication. It’s called not responding. Rather than disagreeing, rather than saying no, rather than labouring your way through a response that might not conform to what you assume the sender to expect, you simply do nothing. Watch the thing […]

This article first appeared in February 2014.

The Anti-Nut Nutiness

Has our anti-nut policy exacerbated the problem?
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in February 2014.

The Rich-Giving Paradox

Is it possible to judge the charitable nature of a person by the pricetag on their car? Recent research suggests yes.
This article first appeared in Corporate Knights in January 2014.

The Rich-Giving Paradox

This article first appeared in Corporate Knights in January 2014.

The Sound of Music

As a child growing up in Canada, I understood there to be two kinds of Europeans: French ones and German ones. The French ones ate croissants, the Germans ones ate rye bread. Our family had croissants as a treat on Christmas morning, and rye bread on canoe trips when nothing else was left – the […]

This article first appeared in CBC Dispatches in January 2014.

Ich bin ein (hammered) Berliner

One Saturday night late last month, a 16-year-old boy succeeded in downing 56 shots of tequila in a drinking competition at a west Berlin bar. He also succeeded in putting himself into a coma with a blood-alcohol level of .48, almost 10 times the legal limit for driving in Germany. That coma lasted until Wednesday, […]

This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in December 2013.

Debating population

There may be too many people on the planet, but population control alone won't save a species afflicted with overconsumption
This article first appeared in Corporate Knights in December 2013.

Debating population

Illustration by Jillian Tamaki Twenty years ago, I and a small group of undergrads from various American universities flew into Lagos on a muggy January evening. We were the wide-eyed and eager dregs of an international exchange program – Nigeria, then under military dictatorship and benighted by corruption was the program’s least popular destination. Having […]

This article first appeared in Corporate Knights in December 2013.

Take my kids, please!

Bernard Hellen, a 46-year-old business development manager and father of two young children, doesn’t usually spend an entire Sunday out walking his dog. But one Sunday last May, his field spaniel, Arfie, had the pleasure of being summoned hourly for an amble around their block in Roncesvalles Village. The outings had a purpose. Hellen’s eyes were […]

This article first appeared in Toronto Life in September 2012.

Take my kids, please!

Too bad Canada doesn't have a daycare system
This article first appeared in Toronto Life in September 2012. It was nominated for a National Magazine Award.

Bin ich schön?

Moderne Dorfschönheiten in der Einwandererstadt Toronto
This article first appeared in ubuntu (SOS Kinderdörfer) in April 2011.

A ‘bizarre showpiece’ as Germany confronts its past

The war-crimes trial of John Demjanjuk, 89 and apparently ailing, raises some uncomfortable questions for his accusers
This article first appeared in Globe and Mail in December 2009.

Heading underground in Berlin

Scratching Berlin's surface to explore Nazi bunkers and nuclear fall-out shelters
This article first appeared in Globe and Mail in October 2009.

Heading underground in Berlin

When Berlin became capital of the united Germany in the nineties, the city had to confront many ghosts of its architectural past: the Berlin Wall – now running through prime real estate – and Nazi-era municipal buildings, some of which became home to government ministries. But nobody wanted to acknowledge the history embedded in the […]

This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in October 2009.

If music can’t change the world, maybe film can

Neil Young's not angry, he just doesn't mince his words
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in March 2009.

If music can’t change the world, maybe film can

This year’s Berlin Film Festival opened with Martin Scorsese’s Shine a Light, a documentary about the Rolling Stones, which invested opening night with the requisite hysteria. The four shrivelled rock stars and the Oscar-winning director swaggered down the red carpet to the ecstatic screams of fans wrapped in Union Jacks and sticking out their tongues. The […]

This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in March 2009.

Canadians come out strong at Berlinale

Berlin festival programmers know Canadian film better than most Canadians do
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in February 2009.

Canadians come out strong at Berlinale

Amidst the hype of the annual Berlin International Film Festival, which awards its Golden Bear prize tonight, Canada has earned an important distinction from at least one critic. “The Canadians should win the most-laid-back award,” said the German journalist sitting next to me at the world premiere of Gary Yates’s High Life. Indeed, pretension is something […]

This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in February 2009.

Procreative Prenzlauer Berg

Berlin Neighborhood Is a Mecca for Young Families
This article first appeared in Spiegel Online in August 2008.

Procreative Prenzlauer Berg

Recently I attended my first pregnant yoga class in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. There we were, eight prostrate bellies strewn across the floor, like mushrooms at various stages of ripeness. Candles flickered in the corners and the instructor Ilona’s voice sank into its most mesmerizing register. “Now bring your feet up to your posteriors,” she says […]

This article first appeared in Spiegel Online in August 2008.

Who’s the Papa? Papers, please

A pregnant Canadian heads to the old Stasi arsenal to register her baby's paternity
This article first appeared in The Ottawa Citizen in April 2008.

Who’s the Papa? Papers, please

Germany is a legendarily bureacratic country, and after ten years here I’ve learned that for trips to government offices I need to pack all of my personal ID and a full day’s worth of intellectual and corporeal sustenance. I let my guard down when it came to registering the paternity of my unborn child, though, […]

This article first appeared in The Ottawa Citizen in April 2008.

Berlinale Bust or Buzz?

Stars such as the Rolling Stones, Madonna and Penelope Cruz may have turned out on in force for this year's Berlinale, but there were few cinematic masterpieces.
This article first appeared in Spiegel Online in February 2008.

Berlinale Bust or Buzz?

Every year, a week before the Berlin International Film Fesitval starts, festival director Dieter Kosslick faces the stony-faced ranks of the German press and tries to persuade them — and himself — that he’s studded the 10-day event with enough gems. This year, the diminutive 59-year-old appeared a couple of inches taller as he announced that the […]

This article first appeared in in February 2008.

Let There Be Light

RATTENBERG — When Franz Wurzenrainer, the mayor of Austria’s smallest city, surveyed all 480 of his citizens on what they most disliked about the place, more than half said that it was too dark in winter. A cluster of medieval buildings and three church spires, Rattenberg lies on the south side of the River Inn, in […]

This article first appeared in The Walrus in December 2007.

Let There Be Light

An Alpine town reflects on plans to brighten things up
This article first appeared in The Walrus in December 2007.

Get off my swing set, Grandma!

Playgrounds for seniors - why not, given demographic trends
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in May 2007.

Get off my swing set, Grandma!

At first glance, there is nothing distinctive about Preussen Park. A pleasant green space in West Berlin, it has an expansive lawn where sunbathers hang out, outdoor Ping Pong tables and an uber-German statue of Borussia (the female incarnation of Prussia) looking down on the comings and goings. But rising up from a pile of […]

This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in May 2007.

Ich bin ein (hammered) Berliner

As Berlin becomes Europe's cocktail capital, politicians push for stricter control of teen drinking
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in March 2007.

All eyes are trained on Enemy

There’s a nice kind of historical symmetry to this year’s Berlinale, or the Berlin International Film Festival. The opening movie, Enemy at the Gates,and the highlight of the festival’s big Fritz Lang retrospective,Metropolis,were both made at the same studio. Or rather incarnations of the same studio. Studio Babelsberg, built in 1912, was, like the biblical tower […]

This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in February 2007.

Small is Evil

Crichton novel may scare off funding, nanoscientists say
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in November 2006.

‘Cigarettes from real Indians’

Canada's leading native manufacturer of tobacco products launches its first foreign plant in Germany
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in July 2006.

Requiem for Bruno: We bearly knew him

Farewell to Bruno, Germany's most famous and shortest lived brown bear
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in July 2006.

Requiem for Bruno: We bearly knew him

Just before sunrise on Monday, on a meadow next to the Bavarian lake of Spitzingsee, Bruno the bear was shot dead. Like his entry into Germany, his exit is proving tumultuous. The name of the hunter responsible is being withheld — for his own protection. Environment Minister Werner Schappauf, who declared Bruno fair game for […]

This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in July 2006.

Visitor becomes unbearable

The night of May 18 was not an especially productive one for Bruno the brown bear. He ambled through a suburb in Tyrolean Unterletzen, climbed over a garden fence, plodded along the banks of the Lech river, toppled a compost bin, fumbled with the gate of chicken run and swiped over four bee hives. What […]

This article first appeared in Globe and Mail in June 2006.

Visitor becomes unbearable

At first, Germany put out the welcome mat for JJ1, who invaded from Austria. Then there were those incidents with the sheep and the chickens.
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in June 2006.

Spuddenfreude

BARUM—Once upon a time, there was a beautiful German potato by the name of Linda. Her parents, Clivia and Hansa, were established sorts who had been married by the plant breeder Friedrich Böhm. In 1974, at the age of ten, Linda was granted an official listing as a German potato, and she went on to […]

This article first appeared in The Walrus in June 2006.

Spuddenfreude

Efforts to save Linda, a venerable German potato
This article first appeared in The Walrus in June 2006.

The medium is English

Who's smarter - the French or the English?
This article first appeared in Sign and Sight in May 2006.

The medium is English

Timothy Garton Ash, historian, academic, journalist and commentator, not to mention great mind, thinker and expert, wrote a piece in The Guardian recently, explaining why “intellectual” is missing from this list. The British, he explains, are loath to identify themselves as intellectuals. The term carries unpleasantwhiffs of the continent, convoluted theory and all things impracticable. While the British deny […]

This article first appeared in Sign and Sight in May 2006.

Portman storms the Berlinale

It's hard to focus on the movie when the exquisite Natalie Portman is at the press conference.
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in February 2006.

Behind the Tent

DÜSSELDORF — As the lights go down at the sold-out Tanzhaus, a friendly voice announces in German, “From my recent trip to Iran, I’ve brought back a few mementos to show you. The tents.” A slide show appears on the stage curtain, showing images of nylon tents pitched on roadsides, on beaches, and outside mosques; families […]

This article first appeared in The Walrus in February 2006.

Behind the Tent

Dancing tents from Iran
This article first appeared in The Walrus in February 2006.

The Sound of Music

As a child growing up in Canada, I understood there to be two kinds of Europeans: French ones and German ones.
This essay was first heard in CBC Dispatches in December 2005.

Gimme Canadian Shelter

More and more Germans are clamouring for homes like the ones they see when they visit the Great White North.
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in August 2005.

Phillip Earl of Hessen meets the Fast Runner

I’m on a high speed train, skimming over a rumpled blanket of fields in southern Germany. The man next to me is reading a book with the title ‘Picasso’s Hair-Do’. On the cover is a photograph of Picasso from the nose up. Picasso has no hair. Nor does the man next to me.  In a […]

This article first appeared in CBC Dispatches in January 2005.

Phillip Earl of Hessen meets the Fast Runner

Bringing Atanarjuat to Marburg
This essay was first heard in CBC Radio Dispatches in January 2005.

126 metres of true grit

The Tunnel tells the story of Hasso Herschel, who went from East to West Berlin the hard way - under the Wall
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in February 2003.

Small is Evil

 A helicopter flies over an empty stretch of desert. A cluster of buildings comes into the view on the horizon. As the pilot steers towards it, one of the passengers comments cynically: “Great architecture . . . it’ll photograph great.”A second passenger, looking at the complex of whitewashed concrete blocks, asks what he means.The man […]

This article first appeared in Globe and Mail in November 2002.

The sound of Snow in Berlin

Michael Snow talks about this, that and the other.
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in July 2002.

The sound of Snow in Berlin

Sitting in a café in Berlin’s trendy Mitte district, veteran Canadian artist Michael Snow admits to being pretty excited. “About this,” he says, sparkling. “It’s all about this.” “This?” I ask. “Well, this and that,” he allows. “But mainly this.” For those not familiar with Snowspeak or the artist’s current interest in the notion of […]

This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in July 2002.

All eyes are trained on Enemy

The future of Studio Babelsberg may rest on the decay of its past
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in February 2001.

Love under Hitler

'Jaguar' was a lesbian Jew who died in the Holocaust. 'Aimée' was a Nazi's wife -- and her lover. Now 87, Lilly Wust tells NAOMI BUCK of her joy at seeing their story immortalized on the big screen
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in January 2001.

Love under Hitler

Last Wednesday, Lilly Wust signed herself out of the Berlin hospital she’d been staying in for the last two months. This wasn’t because she’d fully recovered from the pneumonia that had kept her there, but because she “had had enough” and wanted to go home. The next day the 87-year-old woman was on the telephone […]

This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in January 2001.

Pilgrim’s Progress in Berlin

With Canadian literature experiencing ein Boom, a young publisher is determined to put Timothy Findlay on the German literary map
This article first appeared in The Globe and Mail in June 2000.