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Royal Heraldry
Society of Canada

First Annual Christmas Dinner

In a strange twist of history, contrary to the stories from ancient and chivalrous times, it was the Gentlemen and the Ladies who on December 9th 2005 invaded the Barbarians... Barberians Steak House that is!

L-R: Dr. Hugh Sculley, Ms. Vanessa Harwood, David
Skene-Melvin, Kevin Greaves, Allen White
Photo by David M. Cvet  (click to view larger image)
This historic 1860 house nestled into the shadows of taller buildings has proudly established itself in the heart of downtown Toronto as a premier restaurant for those who appreciate the ultimate in classy ambience, dark wood decor, good food and excellent service. And so it was on this early winter's evening that our gallant band of heraldry enthusiasts found the peace offerings of the Barberians to be quite unbarbarous and well ...downright tasty!

The guest of honour for this Royal Heraldry Society of Canada (Toronto branch) first annual Christmas dinner was Vanessa Harwood O.C., former principal dancer for the National Ballet of Canada with her husband, Dr. Hugh Scully, renowned cardiac surgeon.

Vanessa Harwood, O.C., was born in England, but raised in Toronto. Expressing a love for ballet, Ms. Harwood honed her craft in the National Ballet School, rising to become a principal dancer in the National Ballet of Canada in 1970. A little less known is her work as an actress, appearing on celluloid as a ballerina in the 1991 film "Stepping Out", on the stage in the 1989 Kingston Grand Theatre production of "The Mousetrap", behind the curtain as Artistic Director of Balletto Classicco and also on the little screen in various television programs. Today, Ms. Harwood indulges her art in photography, and has travelled the world to find the perfect images. In 1984 Ms. Harwood was honoured as an Officer of the Order of Canada for her considerable lifetime achievements.

R-L: Dr. Suan-Seh Foo, John Wilkes, Christina
Greaves, Dr. Ramona Domancher, Brian Domancher,
David Rumball, Joanne and David Birtwistle
Photo by David M. Cvet  (click to view larger image)
In the cosy second floor private dining room, Ms. Harwood delighted us all with the story of her career as a dancer from the early days, with its ups and downs and with memories of the other great dancers she has worked with. Ms. Harwood had brought with her the Order of Canada itself in its presentation box and all were eager to see this most prestigious award, and yes, perhaps I did touch it with my finger tip, just to say I had!

As the meal wound itself down members in turn discussed the symbolism and ideas that lay behind the chosen elements in their individual coats of arms. It was fascinating to listen to the care taken in the choice of colour and charge and to recognize the importance that each facet of the achievement holds for the armiger.

This served as a precursor to a discussion of design for arms of Vanessa Harwood O.C., and while no definitive blazon could be hammered out it was clearly the opinion of all present that a swan should be included somewhere! In a lighter theme, various ingenious proposals were put forth for the fashioning of a coat of arms for mighty Saint Nick himself, which delighted the group, brought forth a chuckle or two, and if he ever finds out we're toast!

'Faith sir, we were carousing till the second cock, and Ladies and Gentlemen and Barberians all, found it was a great night and the glorious beginning of a noble Toronto tradition.

- Brian Domander, December 14, 2005


  © 2005, Royal Heraldry Society of Canada, Toronto Branch