Called to Order

By Tralee Pearce, Ottawa Sun, February 27, 1997

Canadian rock legends Rush stepped onto an unfamiliar stage yesterday, as they were inducted into the Order of Canada at Rideau Hall.

Trading stadium digs for red carpets, frontman Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer-lyricist Neal Peart stood shoulder to shoulder in the Rideau Hall Ballroom to receive their medals from Gov. Gen. Romeo LeBlanc. They were named Officers of the Order of Canada.

The award was given as much for their community service as for their contribution to the arts. They have raised over $1 million for food banks and the United Way.

"It's a great honor. It's a very patriotic moment," said Lee, sporting his new medal after the ceremony.

Lifeson hammed it up with the press, pinching one photographer's camera and snapping a few shots.

Of the medal, he cracked: "I think I'll wear it to bed. Maybe I'll get more respect that way."

Actor Al Waxman (King Of Kensington, Cagney And Lacey) and comedian Frank Shuster (of Wayne And Shuster) were also recognized for their contributions to Canadian society -- with Member and Officer designations, respectively.

Waxman, who will star in Death Of A Salesman at Stratford next summer, said he never dreamed of such awards back in his Kensington days.

"I never did. I must say in recent years I hoped that something like this would happen. I take my country very personally. So, for me, it's a personal joy to be here today."

And Shuster, who mused that his medal looked like something Count Dracula might have worn, paid tribute to his late partner-in-laughs, Johnny Wayne.

"He should be part of this. We all miss him ... the team is always the team."

Other arts industry recipients included Haida artist Robert Davidson, choreographer David Charles Earle and jazz guitarist Edward Isaac Bickert.