Two national holidays in a week of parties

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From left, Patrick Dion and Ritchard Brisbin at the Canada Day Celebration hosted by The Westin Ottawa and Air Canada at the downtown hotel on Sunday, July 1, 2012. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

Ah, countries — they grow up so fast.

Last week, Canadians went woo-hoo crazy on July 1 to celebrate our 145th birthday. Then, just a few days later, with our hearts still glowing, we watched our best friend turn 236.

The U.S. Embassy saw 3,000 guests attend its July 4 reception hosted Wednesday afternoon by Ambassador David Jacobson and his wife, Julie, outside their home in Rockcliffe Park. The reception was catered by the Westin Hotel and took place on the massive property, festooned with stars and stripes.

Jacobson’s Independence Day message expressed gratitude to the troops, to President Barack Obama, to Canadians and to those who had a hand in shaping the course of American history. “We give thanks to those who define freedom as a virtue and equality as a goal,” said Jacobson.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, who was in town for an economic development mission, claimed to have brought the heat wave but promised to take it back with him.

The U.S. Marines, the Governor General’s Foot Guards Band, an anthem-singing Craig Kennedy from the RCMP and the Nepean All-City Jazz Band participated in the multi-sponsored event.

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae was sighted. So was Julian Fantino, with Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson, just as news was breaking about Fantino’s promotion from associate defence minister to international cooperation minister.

Guests also included Donna Hicks from Habitat for Humanity NCR, a charity that counts the Jacobsons among its supporters, and Sheila Jenkins with her TV journalist brother, Roger Smith, and his author wife, Denise Chong. Jenkins has just retired as manager from OttawaReads, an early literacy program that Julie Jacobson is involved with.

Rogers Communications vice-chairman Phil Lind — recently inducted into the U.S.-based Cable Hall of Fame — was there. So were Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa lawyer Jacques Shore. Later that night, the mayor presented Shore and four others with Diamond Jubilee medals at City Hall.

Seen in red, white and blue was Jamilah Murray with her husband, Sean Murray, celebrating 25 years of marriage (note to men: tying the knot on a holiday, even an American one, makes it easier to remember your anniversary date).


Location, location, location. As with real estate, location is everything when watching the Canada Day fireworks.

The 23rd-floor terrace of the Westin is one of the best spots to watch the show. That’s where some 400 invited guests ended up following a fun party in the red-hued ballroom of the downtown hotel.

This year’s bash had a decidedly “hip” vibe with chic white lounge chairs, live music and a creative menu that included lobster and bacon salad martinis and a jelly bean wine bar. Prizes included two pairs of Air Canada tickets to any city in our home and native land and two-night stays at the Westin with $250 gift certificates to its restaurant, The Shore Club.

The Jacobsons were there. So was the hotel’s general manager, John Jarvis. He sits on the United Way community services cabinet chaired by lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, who was seen milling about.

Partygoers also included celebrity hairstylist Rinaldo Canonico, Mental Health Commission of Canada vice-chairman Patrick Dion, Ottawa Convention Centre architect Ritchard Brisbin, and Louis Douville, who’s now the general manager and vice-president of CTV Montreal.

Dr. Michael Fung Kee Fung, head of surgical oncology at The Ottawa Hospital, attended with his physician wife, Karen. The hospital foundation’s CEO, Tim Kluke, and his wife, Angela, live in Renfrew, so the party was the perfect excuse for them to book a room at the hotel and paint the town red (and white).


Around Town party-hopped across the canal to another July 1 hot spot — the National Arts Centre.

Some 240 invited guests took in an idyllic evening on the rooftop terrace, soaking up the jazzy sounds of the Steve Berndt Quartet and enjoying an enviable view of the fireworks. As a bonus, NAC supporters celebrated a $500,000 donation from the Slaight Family Foundation announced that day.

The unofficial performing artist was Jasmine Boulet, daughter of NAC communications director Rosemary Thompson. The five-year-old had just watched Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster perform in the NAC’s Canada Day show and was perfecting her own version of step dancing at the party.

Also from the kiddie crowd was Eli Marks, the toddler son of NAC Orchestra principal violist Jethro Marks and flutist Emily Marks. It was hard to get the little guy’s attention, though, because he was distracted by some birds — not the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, but members of its air demonstration team were there. So was the Snowbirds’ Honourary Colonel Michael Potter, founder of Vintage Wings of Canada, with his youngest daughter, Lilli Angelique, nine.

Chief of the Defence Staff General Walt Natynczyk attended with his wife, Leslie, after having spent last Canada Day in Kandahar. “It’s a great treat to be here,” he told Around Town.

Also seen was NAC Orchestra music director Pinchas Zukerman with his cellist wife, Amanda Forsyth.

Sorry to have missed the event was NAC’s longtime CEO and president, Peter Herrndorf. He’s recuperating from cancer surgery, but NAC Foundation CEO Jayne Watson had everyone toast “Captain Canada” in his absence.


Hockey icon Don Cherry missed making an appearance, via YouTube, at Wednesday’s opening gala for the Music and Beyond Festival.

A technical glitch prevented organizers from showing a funny video that gives the appearance of Cherry playing the piano during Coach’s Corner. The purpose of showing the clip was to get everyone laughing. “It’s important people know we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” artistic and executive director Julian Armour told Around Town at Dominion-Chalmers United Church.

Concert attendees included Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and her husband, Frank McArdle; National Gallery of Canada Foundation board chairman Tom d’Aquino and his wife, Susan; and Bill and Jean Teron, seen chatting afterward with Canadian soprano Yannick-Muriel Noah. God only knows how she can sing like she does at eight months’ pregnant (with her third child).

Also present were 2012 Juno Award-winning violinist Alexandre Da Costa and pianist Wonny Song, both from Montreal. They were thrilled to be rubbing shoulders with legendary pianist Menahem Pressler, 88, a co-founder of the Beaux Arts Trio.

Around Town returns in September.

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