Ernest Hemingway once said that there are only two places in the world where one can live happy: at home and in Paris.
For a few million people in this world, including Helen Vari, these two places coincide. And in June, Helen opened her Paris home, with its breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower, to U of T alumni from eight countries across Europe for a buffet of quintessential French dishes – and a good helping of joie de vivre. Among the 127 guests was David Peterson, attending his last public event as chancellor. Helen, who received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Victoria University last year, observed that “people were very enthusiastic, stayed late and enjoyed the champagne and all the good news about their alma mater.”
The next afternoon, she arranged a reception for alumni with Marc Lortie, the Canadian ambassador to France, at the Official Residence of Canada in France and a tour of La Musée National de la Légion d’Honneur – “in one of the most beautiful palaces in Paris.” Both Helen Vari and Chancellor Peterson are Chevaliers of the Légion.
Helen’s late husband, George W. Vari, believed strongly in the value of education, and together the couple created the Vari Scholarships at U of T for students who intend to pursue careers in teaching. “I’ve always been happy to help U of T in any way I can,” she says. “And I was very happy to host these events. Maybe in another couple of years we’ll do it again.”