Who gets forgotten in giving season?

I got my first ‘holiday’ appeal for a donation this week. By the week before Jesus’ Birthday, our inboxes will be groaning with these appeals.

But I’ve always been puzzled by what cause doesn’t get support and has to practically beg to keep their doors open every year. Indeed, some shut their doors for lack of funds, never to open them again.

I’m speaking about women’s shelters, those temporary homes that women who are being abused flee to, often with their kids, to get away from their abusers on the long hard road to leading a ‘normal’ life again.

The lack of support for women’s shelters is puzzling for two reasons:

First, women have more money and power today than they ever did. They give to breast cancer, to women’s mental health, to women’s hospitals, women’s advancement, women’s lots-of-things. But women’s shelters? Not so much.

Second, the psychological and physical abuse of women is simply not condoned anywhere in Canadian society. It is a third rail of life and brooks zero tolerance. And yet the organizations who pick up the pieces are, if not shunned, then left to their own devices.

I know two groups of rich, powerful Toronto women who band together to promote women artists and opera productions, pooling their money and influence to ensure women get heard, seen and promoted. Maybe this year, they could do that for the organizations to ensure women don’t get abused, beaten or killed.

Here are two places to start.


1. Sex in a surprising place. That place, of course, is old age.

2. Idris Elba and David Beckham meet in an unsurprising place. Movie stars and athletes are always tempted by even more money. So they’ll turn up in odd places simply because someone’s paying them an insane amount of money. Last year, aging soccer phenom David Beckham shilled for Qatar tourism, and this year aging actor Idris Elba helmed a one-hour ‘feature sponsored by the World Gold Council that opens inVal D’Or (Valley of Gold), Quebec.

3. Rick Mercer and Jann Arden meet in a surprising place. On November 14th, both are launching their new books at an evening RamsayTalk in Toronto. There are just 40 tickets left. Get yours here.

4. Where the ultra-rich spend their holidays. Not in Canada, for sure. The top 3 destinations are all in the US, with Miami and its 800+ centi-millionaires Number 1. Speaking of wealth, here’s Morgan Housel on The Laws of Getting Rich. Also, is no place sacred? Winston Churchill’s war offices are now a luxury London hotel.

5. How to make daily decisions. We spend 40 days a year dithering over small decisions (What should I eat for dinner? Wear to work? Watch on TV?) that take far too long to decide. Here’s a guide to doing that better.

6. Where are we going with art and its institutions? The Fogo Island Dialogues is an international conversation based on the belief that art can induce social change. This year’s 10th edition is free, live in Toronto and online on November 28th.

7. You’d never ask a man that. Women athletes still face the age-old problem.

8. Interview with the devil. Moussa Abu Marzouk, a co-founder of Hamas, speaks in Doha to Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor of The Economist. As The Browser notes: “Challenged to account for the atrocities committed by Hamas fighters, Marzouk replies with evasions, denials and obvious lies.”

Also, Ian Bremmer on what the Israel-Hamas war means for the world.

9. The new Ken Burns documentary. The American Buffalo premiered this week on PBS. As Nick Shager wrote: “[It] is a spiritual step forward for Ken Burns…following last year’s The U.S. and the HolocaustThe American Buffalo, another story of genocide, and of survival, reads as especially urgent and of-the-moment. It’s as if the director had entered some late-career, late-life period, driven by the shortness of time, his, ours and the planet’s.”

10. The food of love. Merry Clayton on singing “Gimme Shelter.” Plus the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is $14.7 million richer after receiving its largest-ever gift from the Beck Family whose total support for the TSO over the years is now over $50 million. Finally, it’s the 50th anniversary of the Sydney Opera House, one of the most famous buildings in the world. What if it had been designed by a different architect?

11. What I’m liking. Michael Lewis’ new book, Going Infinite, on Sam Bankman-Fried (former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX),who Lewis was just getting to know when Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas. It’s a tribute to Lewis’ story-telling genius that I know nothing about crypto and little about markets or tech, and I can’t stop reading this. Is Bankman-Fried a man-child? A sociopath? On the spectrum? Deliriously selfish? Innocent of all charges? The trial in New York City continues.




On November 1, you can learn all about them at an online webinar from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. ET.

You can sign up for the webinar here.

If you want to know how this adventure came to be, read on:

The story of your trip to the Orkneys, Shetlands and Faroes next June 13th to 24th back in 2018.

I asked Wade Davis where he’d like to explore next summer with a group of 16 of us. I was sure he’d say some exotic part of South America, because that’s his world and he knows it better than just about anyone else on earth. Instead, he said, “the Shetlands and Orkneys.”

“Really? Why?”

“I’ve never been there.”

I guess that’s the best reason of all: going to places you’ve never been to is always eye-opening, all the more so wild and woolly places in the North Atlantic.

Our brief conversation started an annual pilgrimage to Britain’s northernmost isles – and the Faroe Islands. We added the Faroes to give our trip a third leg and it isn’t British; It’s Danish. Different history, language, currency, politics, religion, everything.

The trip would happen in 2020. Then COVID hit. So it was last year before Wade and I found 16 other first-timers to join us.

That trip was one of the most memorable either of us had been on. In a word – aaaaaah-mazing! Not just for the end-of-the-world views and discovering the deep roots the Orkneys and Shetlands have with Canada, but oddities like a Michelin restaurant in Tórshavn and serendipities like having Laurie Goodlad as our Shetland Guide who’s now organized next year’s entire trip to all three islands. She’s that good. Indeed, Laurie will be with you from your welcome dinner at Angels With Bagpipes on June 13 when you overnight in Edinburgh, to your final flight from Tórshavn back to Edinburgh on June 24.

In this past summer’s version of the trip, Wade and Jean and I gave others a chance at this truly different trip. This summer’s Gang of 16, filled by Anne Fitzgerald, husband Ian Tuck, and her friends, got the same rave reviews as the 2022 trip. Anne and Ian will bow out next year (as will we), but not before we worked with Laurie to nip and tuck the two previous trips so yours will be the most remarkable ever.

All to say, you’re invited to take a step on the wild side. A safe step. None of us is 30 anymore. There’s hiking, but not enough to tire you; archeology and history, but only enough to excite you, plus wildly interesting people and of course many thousands of sheep!

So if you and yours are looking not for a bucket-list trip, but more a rainbow-at-the-end-of-the-world adventure, please book your place now, Now, NOW.

The attached itinerary will give you the full flavor of what’s in store for you and yours.

All to say…

Laurie and Anne Fitzgerald and I and Shetland travel agent will be hosting a webinar to go through the details of next summer’s trip.

So join us online from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm ET on Wednesday, Nov. 1. Just sign up here and we’ll send you the Zoom link 48 hours before the event.

As both Laurie and AA Milne both note: “When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”


Bob Ramsay

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