Catherine McLean Freelance Writer

Bracing for hard times in the world's financial haven

Published August 14, 2011 in The Globe and Mail

Daniel Ackermann's family has run a hotel in the small Swiss ski town of Arosa for three generations, offering guests a chance to abandon their everyday worries as they wander in the fresh alpine air.

But escape from the world's financial woes is becoming more elusive even here in the Swiss Alps. The fallout from debt problems in the United States and Europe is threatening to travel all the way to the doorstep of Mr. Ackermann's Hotel Hohe Promenade.

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Europe's nuclear retreat good news for Canadian Solar

Published July 14, 2011 in The Globe and Mail

When Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident struck, European governments put their own energy programs under the microscope, taking a closer look at the safety of the nuclear plants that light up homes and businesses. Now two countries - Germany and Switzerland - aim to phase out their nuclear programs in coming decades.

That's welcome news for Canadian Solar Inc. The company, which makes solar modules that convert the sun's rays into a power source, generated three quarters of its US$1.5-billion in 2010 revenue within Europe.

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Look ma, no pedals!

Published May 22, 2011 in The Globe and Mail

A classic rite of parenthood - that heart-stopping moment after the training wheels come off - may soon be on the wane. A new model of child's bicycle that makes training wheels redundant and is reputed to get children riding big bikes at younger ages is making inroads in Canada.

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Sleuths on the hunt for knock-off Swiss

Published May 3, 2011 in The Globe and Mail

For years, inferior cheese masquerading as the finest from Switzerland has snuck onto the shelves of stores around the globe. You might think that slice of holey cheese is authentic - but it may be the food world equivalent of a Louis Vuitton knock-off.

Dairy counterfeiters, however, should watch their backs. Cheese detectives are on the case.

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Turn on, tune in … heal your head? LSD as therapy

Published September 17, 2010 in The Globe and Mail

In a psychiatrist's office in the sleepy Swiss town of Solothurn, patients are taking part in extraordinary individual therapy sessions that can last up to eight hours.

The patient can sit on a stool or lie on a mat while listening to music or exchanging a few words with the psychiatrist. But for most of the session silence rules as a long-time feared and banned drug pushes them deep into a meditative state.

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Cracking the challenging European market

Published September 2, 2010 in The Globe and Mail

In the busy streets of Europe, it's not unusual to see a piece of Canada roll by on two wheels.

Bicycle carriers made by Calgary-based Chariot Carriers Inc. are the preferred method for carting kids around town for many European parents. Instead of bundling everyone into the car for errands, moms and dads instead hop on their bikes and pull their kids - and groceries - behind them in one of the sturdy carts.

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‘Stop pushing this model of a perfect mother on our society’

Published July 12, 2010 in The Globe and Mail

She may not be a household name here, but Elisabeth Badinter is considered one of France’s most prominent women. She is part of that country’s elite thanks to her role as chair of the supervisory board of Publicis Groupe, the world’s third largest advertising agency, which was founded by her late father.

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Organic dairy does a frothy business

Published March 17, 2010 in The Globe and Mail

It's mid-afternoon on a cold winter day, but the Holstein and Jersey cows on Rachel Green's farm are contentedly snacking on hay inside a charming red barn as a puppy the colour of brown sugar plays nearby.

This is the farm of children's storybooks, a very different image from the crowded and disturbing factory farms depicted in recent documentaries and books on the food industry.

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There must be 50 reasons to leave your partner

Published March 3, 2010 in The Globe and Mail

For 34 years, the partnership in Le Papillon weathered the sorts of threats and tests that fill up the small- business graveyard. The popular French restaurant in Toronto survived the departure of an original partner, the severing of romantic ties between the other two partners, and forced relocations that arrived once a decade, as if on schedule. Finally, emerging succession concerns, along with yet another move, pushed the owners to the brink.

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The million-dollar club

Published February 26, 2010 in The Globe and Mail

The building off a busy Toronto street is beautiful but imposing, its grand stone columns framing a formal black front door.

Those curious enough to try to enter the Georgian gem, owned by Morgan Meighen & Associates, will first have to ring a doorbell and answer to a voice from within.

Even if they gained access to its soft yellow interior, most Canadians wouldn't have the deep pockets required to proceed further.

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