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Matthew Hyland
Writer, Curator

Oakville
January 12, 2010

Matthew Hyland is a Toronto-based writer and curator. He was recently appointed Director of Oakville Galleries, where he has curated such exhibitions as Mnemonic Devices and Deirdre Logue: Beyond Her Usual Limits. Prior to joining the staff at the Galleries in 2006, Matthew held positions at the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre and the City of Toronto. He was nominated for the 2009 Lorenzo Bonaldi Art Prize, an international award for curators under 30.

1. Chantal Akerman

I first saw Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles at the age of nineteen and Akerman’s exquisite (if unforgiving) take on the everyday has captivated me without fail ever since. While visiting WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2008, I sat down to take in a few minutes of the film and before I knew it, two and half hours had passed. Since then, it seems that not a month goes by without Akerman’s name coming up in print or conversation and I’m delighted every time.

2. Euchre

There is nothing I don’t love about euchre, a partner card game that relies just enough on strategy to keep things interesting and just enough on luck to keep things fun.

The game was played widely across America in the 19th Century, but fell out of favour not coincidentally as women took an interest in it independent of men. As female euchre leagues and tournaments became more popular, the game came to be seen as decadent and sinful, too "excitable" for respectable citizens to play. By the turn of the 20th Century, the matter of euchre and its moral turpitude was the subject of debate at church congregations across America. One Memphis pastor declared euchre “a body and soul destroying vice” and subsequently resigned from his post when female parishioners refused to abstain from the game. He was hardly the lunatic fringe: the New York Times published an editorial in his support.

Since then, euchre’s popularity has waned dramatically across North America, though it holds strong in the rust belt, including small-town Ontario where I first learned it. I had all but forgotten about the game until a few years ago, when a friend held a euchre tournament for her birthday. Now I can’t help but size up friends and strangers as potential card partners.

3. Coconut milk ice cream

I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, but I quickly learned that I was happy to make an exception for coconut milk ice cream. I feel like a nine year old when I say that it was my single most exciting culinary discovery of 2009, but you’ll understand when you try it: it is basically magic. I recommend chocolate chip cookie dough (gluten-free!) or plain old chocolate. You won’t be disappointed.

4. The GO Train

When I started working in Oakville, I thought the commuter train from Toronto might be the death of me. Now I love it. Because I’m always moving against traffic (out of the city in the morning, into the city at night), the train is generally sparsely populated, guaranteeing thirty minutes of uninterrupted reading time. Most recently, I worked through the first volume of Susan Sontag’s diaries in transit (which was nothing if not humbling—Sontag was virtually as sharp at fifteen as she was at fifty).

That you can take your bike on the train only further endears GO Transit to me. Gairloch Gardens is just a short ride from the train station, a trip that’s made along south Oakville’s picture-perfect side streets. I find myself carpooling with colleagues more often than not these days, but make a point of taking the train when I can, particularly in the spring and summer when front yards are at their finest.

5. Chicago Manual of Style

Because sometimes it’s nice just to have someone tell you exactly what to do.

 

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