Globe and Mail

Clarkson's daughters will shun ceremony

The Globe and Mail
Friday, October 1, 1999

Adrienne Clarkson will be sworn in as Governor-General next Thursday.

Adrienne Clarkson's estranged daughters planning to spurn their mother in her most glorious moment: They are boycotting next week's pomp and pageantry in which she will be sworn in as Canada's Governor-General.

The 60-year-old former broadcaster and cultural icon -- renowned for her naturally sovereign presence -- will be officially installed as Canada's vice-regal next Thursday in the Senate chamber.

But it is unlikely that her daughters will be calling Ms. Clarkson Her Excellency -- or calling her at all.

"I'm not going to the ceremony. I don't want to discuss this situation with anyone," said Blaise Clarkson, 27, a second-year medical student at the University of Toronto. Speaking from her second-floor apartment in Toronto's trendy Annex neighbourhood, she declined to comment further on her relationship with her mother.

Ms. Clarkson's 30-year-old daughter, Kyra, also had little interest in talking about her mother's advancement.

Kyra Clarkson lives in New York's fashionable Brooklyn Heights neighbourhood, two subway stops from Wall Street, across the Hudson River. Although she is educated as an architect, she is not registered as one in New York state.

"I actually don't have that many thoughts. It's not something that affects my life here," Ms. Clarkson replied when asked about her mother's appointment. She wouldn't say whether the two of them had been in contact. "That's really nobody's business; it feels kind of personal.

She also refused a request for a further interview.

The two daughters are from Adrienne Clarkson's first marriage, to Stephen Clarkson, a political science professor. They had another child, a son, who died not long after birth.

By the time the Clarksons separated in 1975, Ms. Clarkson was host of the 5th estate and one of the most prominent TV personalities in the country. After they split up, the two wrangled over child-care arrangements, although the girls continued to live with their father in Toronto's affluent Rosedale.

However, when Blaise and Kyra were old enough to be adopted without legal consent, they chose to be adopted by Christina McCall, Professor Clarkson's second wife.

Family friends have always been discreet about the Clarksons' troubles.

Prof. Clarkson was just as restrained this week: "We're not talking about [Ms. Clarkson's appointment] for obvious reasons." Ms. Clarkson was also host of the television program Take Thirty and represented the government of Ontario in Paris from 1982 to 1987.

Just days before her appointment as Governor-General, Ms. Clarkson made a dash to the altar, marrying her long-time partner, John Ralston Saul, Canada's most prominent left-wing literary figure.

Ms. Clarkson also settled a rancorous dispute with a neighbour. For two years, she had been trying to thwart renovation plans at the home owned by Katherine Stewart, widow of John Keiller Mackay, Ontario's lieutenant-governor from 1957 to 1963.

Ms. Clarkson was fighting the renovation because she said it would block her sunlight.

At the time of the settlement, the designer involved in the project charged that Ms. Clarkson wanted to end the dispute because she feared a lawsuit might have scuttled her appointment.