1| My hat
In the ’90s, I worked with a man from a family of avid sailors in Brittany on the coast of France. I bought my toque when I was visiting them. It’s made for wearing on the ocean, so it’s warm. It’s become my trademark.
2| My going-out jacket
I’m not a fashionista, but I like to wear things that aren’t like what everyone else is wearing. The Montreal designer Helmer Joseph made this jacket for me a few years ago. He’s made lots of pieces for me since, but this one’s my favourite.
3| My drawing
When I worked at Bishops University in 2004, we did an exhibition of work by the artist Denyse Thomasos. To say thank you, she gave me this drawing and made me promise to frame it and keep it in my office wherever I ended up. I did and I have.
4| My globe collection
I got this globe as a wedding gift from friends I met in France in 1989. Everyone then was talking about the fall of the Berlin Wall. We knew the world was changing, so we all started collecting globes that included the old Soviet boundaries. I have 15 or 20
5| My opera
I like classical music—I played the cello for years—and I’m totally hooked on the melodrama of opera. I used to go all the time when I lived in Montreal, and I can’t wait to see a performance at the Four Seasons Centre now that I’m in Toronto.
6| My daughters’ music
I have a six-year-old and a 10-year-old. Their tastes are eclectic: they’ll listen to Tom Waits, Jacques Brel and Katy Perry. (I love Katy Perry!) A few weeks ago they introduced me to Inna Modja, a French pop singer who is just so soulful. Her album is my new favourite.
7| My purse
I fell in love with Jamin Puech purses when I first saw one in 2007 at an art exhibition. The next year I was in New York, and I found myself around the corner from a Puech store. I walked in and bought one on a whim.
8| My engagement ring
I went to Concordia in the ’80s, and we were big into sit-ins and protests to get the university to divest from South Africa. So when my husband-to-be said he wanted to propose, I said: by all means, but no diamonds! He got me a white sapphire.
9| My Camper shoes
I’ve been buying Camper shoes since 1995. I must have 10 pairs. They’re comfortable—and I walk everywhere! They’re especially great for long days wandering
10| My literary inspiration
I first read The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin about 20 years ago. It’s an important book. I’ve always admired Baldwin because of the risks he took—imagine being a gay African-American in the ’50s and ’60s.