Around Town: For the animals, Live and Let Live

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Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose and J.P. Veitch at the Ottawa Humane Society's FurBall gala dinner held at the National Gallery of Canada on Saturday, February 23, 2013. Photo by Caroline Phillips.

There was no hibernating Saturday for our city’s animal lovers, seen at the National Gallery of Canada for the Ottawa Humane Society’s annual FurBall.

Honorary chair Laureen Harper arrived with a large group of friends that included such first-time attendees as Sharon Johnston, wife of Gov. Gen. David Johnston.

“She dragged me in,” Johnston jokingly told Around Town within earshot of Harper, who good-naturedly interjected: “She loves animals.”

Not only did Harper get Johnston to attend the gala but she also took her on a previous occasion to visit the animal shelter. The experience so moved Johnston that she’s since decided she’d like to become a foster parent to an humane society dog. The Johnstons’ old family dog, a Chesapeake Bay retriever named Cato, passed away and was buried last summer on the grounds of Rideau Hall.

Harper goes above and beyond her honorary role, said humane society development director Rob McCulloch. “She fosters animals, she volunteers. She doesn’t just lend her name, she actually gets involved at the grassroots level.”

The evening, a James Bond-inspired gala MCed by CTV’s Graham Richardson, attracted close to 300 people at $300 a ticket. Organizers were hoping to exceed last year’s fundraising total of $160,000.

The chi-chi crowd included fashion designer Richard Robinson and his glamorous gang; Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose; Julie Jacobson, wife of U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson; and some of the Ottawa Senators’ other halves, including Erik Karlsson’s wife, Therese Karlsson, and Milan Michalek’s wife, Karen Michalek. She’s expecting their first child in August. That’s the same month Julie Fuller, who was also there, is due to wed Kyle Turris.

Also in attendance were members of the humane society volunteer board, including chair Linda Barber, Shannon Gorman from Telus and lawyer Chris Spiteri.

GOOD CAUSE, GOOD FORTUNE

After finishing her Chinese food, Carol Laidlaw cracked open her fortune cookie to see what was in store for her this year. A trip to the Orient, it turned out

Laidlaw, an investment adviser and financial divorce specialist, won a pair of Air Canada tickets to China during the Good Health & Prosperity Ball for the Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH). Nearly 100 cookies were sold for $100 each and Laidlaw got the lucky one.

The evening, held Tuesday at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata, ended up raising $170,000 for the hospital foundation’s Better Tools for Better Care campaign. The health care facility is in need of new medical equipment and a complete upgrade to the patient information system as it continues to serve the region’s rapidly growing west-end population.

The QCH has many new programs and services to be proud of but it “must, absolutely must” renew its technology to provide a high quality of care, QCH president and CEO Tom Schonberg said on stage with foundation president and CEO Melanie Adams at his side.

The hospital partnered with China’s embassy to showcase an evening of Chinese culture through song, dance and music. The embassy’s minister counsellor of culture, Lin Difu, wished everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous Chinese New Year of the Snake as the 350 guests grabbed their chopsticks and feasted on a flavourful five-course Chinese meal.

The hospital’s past three galas have involved the participation of the diplomatic community. It was Joan Sun McGarry who helped bring the Chinese embassy on board this time. Five years ago, the hospital detected a large tumour on her spine. “The Queensway Carleton saved my life,” she told Around Town.

Brookstreet’s owner, high-tech magnate Sir Terry Matthews, was the evening’s honorary chair while his Wesley Clover charitable foundation was a major sponsor.

Also present were MC Mark Sutcliffe, Royal LePage Team Realty and Gale Real Estate broker Kent Browne as charity auctioneer; QCH board chair Gerry Barker, a V-P at Algonquin College; QCH Foundation board chair and Ottawa lawyer Ron Prehogan; and the hospital’s chief of staff, Dr. Andrew Falconer, and president of medical staff, Dr. Sanjay Acharya.

The title sponsor was west-end rental property community Accora Village owned by Ferguslea Properties. Company president Dan Greenberg’s wife, Barbara Crook, attended as well as his V-P, Steve Ryan. On behalf of Greenberg, he wrapped up his remarks with “the Leafs suck” and “Go Sens go.”

TAKING CLASSICS TO THE SCHOOLS

Classical music lovers were welcomed into the Rockcliffe Park home of Egyptian Ambassador Wael Aboul Magd on Wednesday for a larger-than-usual Music to Dine For event that he and his wife hosted.

The fundraiser, chaired by Anna Morena, was in support of The Friends of the National Arts Centre Orchestra (NACO), an organization that raises money for bursaries and scholarships for young musicians and for the NAC’s music in the schools program.

The Music to Dine For dinners are usually rather intimate, involving a dozen-plus guests, but the ambassador had more than 50 people over for a sit-down buffet dinner. “They’ve really been very generous,” Friends of the NACO board president Bob Lafleur told Around Town.

The evening featured a concert by a young string quartet featuring Alexandre Turmel (violin), Trevor Wilson (violin), Carolyn Farnand (viola) and Ezra Poplove (cello).

Spotted in the crowd was new board member Jane Forsyth with her realtor husband, 1992 Olympic gold medal rower Rob Marland.

THE CAKE WAS ‘SMOKIN’’

The cake really took the cake at Wednesday’s book launch of The Poisoned Pawn, the second in author Peggy Blair’s Inspector Ramirez crime fiction series published by Penguin Canada.

The stunning dessert came from Kate Green Cakes near Kemptville. It resembled a cigar box with Cuban Montecristo stogies made from modelling chocolate.

The well-attended launch party, held at Orange Art Gallery in Hintonburg, offered up Cuban drinks, food and live music, in keeping with the book’s Havana theme.

Historian and journalist Mark Bourrie and Ottawa Fire Chief John deHooge were among the attendees seen getting their copies signed by Blair, a former lawyer-turned real estate agent and writer. Also sighted was CBC Radio book panel member Ann Archer, who enjoyed Blair’s debut mystery, The Beggar’s Opera.

A celebration isn’t complete in this town unless there’s an appearance from our everywhere man, Mayor Jim Watson. He dropped in, as promised.

Carolyn001@sympatico.ca

Connect with Caroline Phillips |carolyn001@sympatico.ca