An old-timey Christmas for the kids

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Andrew King, taking a swig from his soda pop bottle, and fellow artists Alison Fowler (centre) and Katherine Jeans at the launch of their temporary Pop Up Gallery at 77 Holland Ave. on Thursday, November 29, 2012. (Photo: Caroline Phillips)

It’s beginning to look a lot like vintage Christmas.

Nearly 30 company-sponsored trees were festooned with lights, ribbons and ornaments as part of Fairmont Château Laurier’s annual Trees of Hope fundraiser for CHEO, hosted by the hotel in its grand ballroom Monday.

The magical evening raised $60,000 for the children’s hospital and featured great prize packages and 150-plus silent auction items. The chief organizer was the hotel’s PR director, Deneen Perrin, who also sits on the CHEO Foundation board.

The hotel’s GM, Claude Sauvé, was there with his wife, Deborah. As a returning judge, she helped choose the trees that either best captured “vintage elegance” in honour of the hotel’s centennial year or the whimsical childlike wonder of the 15th anniversary of the CHEO event.

It was heartwarming to see kids so amused by the little toy trains chugging around several of the trees.

Also a sight was the team from Keller Williams realty in homemade Edwardian/Titanic era costumes. Its tree told the story of the historic hotel and its notable guests. Lying beneath its branches was an original May 1939 copy of The Ottawa Evening Citizen with its front page story of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s visit. A framed photo ornament of them dining at the Château Laurier during that visit was seen hanging on a tree trimmed by Brockville firm Responsible Energy Inc.

Spotted from CHEO was CEO Alex Munter, along with CHEO Foundation’s CEO, Fred Bartlett. He’s retiring, as is Norma Lamont, V-P of community development, after 18 years and 23 years, respectively. Taking over as chief executive is the foundation’s COO, Kevin Keohane.

The trees remain on display over the holidays for the public to vote on their favourite while making a donation to CHEO.

BRINGING HELP BACK HOME

CIDA is all about helping developing countries, but during the past six weeks a small group of employees from the government agency took it upon itself to organize an evening in support of people living in its own backyard.

A new soirée, The Art of Giving, was held Friday in the luminous Great Hall of the National Gallery. It drew 900-plus people for a night of social networking and raising money for the GCWCC (Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign).

The evening, which aimed to raise at least $30,000, featured a cocktail reception, aerialist performance, live music, DJ and dancing, prizes and a silent auction showcasing nine donated artworks.

In the youthful yet sophisticated mix were federal bureaucrats from internationally focused departments along with people from diplomacy, NGOs and graduate programs in international affairs.

“It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate giving, which is really CIDA’s forte,” lead organizer Jacob Thoppil told Around Town. “It’s what we do. It’s the core of our business, and it lies in the hearts of every single person within our agency.”

Thoppil is the director of the Pakistan Program at CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency). Also present was former diplomat Darren Schemmer, V-P of CIDA’s Partnerships with Canadians Branch. He’s the lead in the department for the GCWCC, which is the largest workplace contributor to United Way.

HATS OFF TO GALLERY VOLUNTEERS

It was a night for tipping one’s hat — whether it be a 10-gallon stetson or Mickey Mouse ears — to all the visual artists, businesses and volunteers involved with the Ottawa Art Gallery.

Some 100 guests gathered for the gallery’s Hats Off appreciation bash Wednesday. Most wore their best hats, as requested. Those with bare noggins, such as Downtown Rideau BIA executive director Peggy DuCharme, headed to the craft table to construct their own party hat.

Gallery director Alexandra Badzak touched on exciting highlights from 2012 as well what’s in store for the gallery, which is planning a major expansion.

The OAG thanked such supporters as Leslie McKay, chair of the highly successful 2012 art auction, prominent caterer Sheila Whyte, art rental volunteer Kerry Thompson, and Jim Orban, who chairs the OAG’s annual golf tournament. Also recognized was law firm Fraser Milner Casgrain and its Ottawa managing partner, Tom Houston. He borrowed a wacky Ian Poulter-styled wig golf visor to wear to the party.

DRESS-UP FOR FAMILY DAY

Opulent opera gowns, period costumes and red-coloured everything from the Saint Carmen of the Main theatre production were for sale at the Costumes for a Cause benefit held Monday at the National Arts Centre’s 4th Stage.

The sale and auction, organized by the NAC’s Friends of English Theatre (FET), was in support of the English Theatre’s programming for Family Day on Feb. 18.

FET chair Linda Wood was seen trying on some red vinyl high-heeled platform knee boots while the NAC’s finance manager of music, Louise Rowe, had her eye on a fancy costume robe and was wondering whether she could pull off wearing it to the NAC Gala or the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Gala.

Present was the NAC English Theatre’s new artistic director, Jillian Keiley, along with FET fundraising coordinator Margaret Torrance and Robert Gould, who ran the lively auction with actor Pierre Brault. They sold off costumes as well as a dining, performance and backstage tour package from the NAC and Le Café, a Toronto theatre package and a weekend getaway to Windmill Developments’ Whitewater Village.

POP GOES THE GALLERY

Around Town felt it only appropriate to pop in to a pop-up event. Artists Andrew King, Alison Fowler and Katherine Jeans hosted a gallery launch party Thursday at their temporary location, a vacant single-family house at 77 Holland Ave.

By the time I arrived, the tasty treats by chef Michael Blackie of MB Cuisine were long gone due to a much higher than expected turnout.

There was still some soda pop left, though, from The Pop Shoppe that King had sought out especially for the party. “It’s better than a beer,” said David Hicks, as he took another swig of Grape.

The house, formerly used as a business, will remain as the Pop-Up Gallery until Dec. 23.

Around Town is Spaced Out

Or maybe I mean out of space. Coverage of Shepherd’s fashion FUNraiser for the Bruyère Foundation will run next week.

Carolyn001@sympatico.ca

Connect with Caroline Phillips |carolyn001@sympatico.ca