Diary of the Week: Baeumler Gala, First Novel Awards, Max Mara x Power Plant and Parachute Gala

For the third year running, a host of black tie-clad celebrities took to the stage at the Ritz Carlton, where a who’s who of Toronto’s big names… sang karaoke? Yes, the crowd was spirited and willing, among them gala-namesake Bryan Baeumler of HGTV fame, Ben Mulroney, Suits star Patrick J Adams, actress Tara Spencer-Nairn, Cityline host Tracy Moore, celebrity chef Lynn Crawford (who helmed the gourmet meal) and Orphan Black’s newest addition, Amanda Brugel. Horses suspended from the ceiling gave the room brimming with well-heeled guests a sense of whimsy, and one particularly unforgettable moment saw Deadmau5 (a.k.a Joel Zimmerman) get all the women at his table (including Jessica Mulroney, Sarah Baeumler and Bianka Kamber) on stage for a rendition of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” for a $10,000 donation. The night’s causes? Children, specifically The Sick Kids Foundation of Canada, The Reach Out Centre for Kids and Easter Seals of Ontario. Now that’s something to sing about!

The literati descended on the Four Seasons hotel’s Vinci Ballroom, where 200 guests gathered in great suspense to see who Amazon Canada and the Walrus Foundation named Alix Hawley the winner of the First Novel Awards, thanks to her powerful debut, All True Not a Lie In It. Prior to and after the ceremony, hosted by CBC’s Shelagh Rogers, guests mingled over cocktails and miniature comforts (think: chicken pot pie, fried calamari and Italian sausages) and a raw bar replete with fresh stone crab. Other short-listed novelists were Emma Hooper, Sean Michaels, Guillaume Morissette and Chelsea Rooney, all of whom were selected by The Walrus fiction editor Nick Mount. And while the authors are new, the honours have been doled out to fresh talent for the past three decades.


From a cocktail party at the Toronto Max Mara boutique to L’Unita Restaurant for an intimate dinner, art was the order of the evening on Thursday (May 21), where Max Mara and the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery cemented a newfound partnership ahead of the annual Power Ball, where the fashion brand will present a special, multi-sensory installation. Local influencers mingled with gallery benefactors over drinks before a select group moved on for a bit, hosted by Maysaloon Albadri, Justine Deluce and Power Plant board member Debra Campbell. The guest of honour – clad in Max Mara, naturally – was none other than renowned installation artist Jennifer Rubell.

It was a meeting of Canadian greats at the Parachute Gala, where honourary chair Wayne Gretzky - hockey's Great One - joined forces with the founders of iconic apparel brand Roots: Don and Denyse Green, and Michael Budman and Diane Bald. With host Jason Priestley and performers Deborah Cox, Lawrence Gowan, JRDN and comedian Martin Short - who delighted the crowd climbing atop the stage's piano - the wildly successful affair had talent in spades, but it also had heart. In a bid to protect children from preventable deaths, and honour renowned neurosurgeon and Parachute board member Dr. Charles Tator, the fundraiser amassed $1,109,000 to benefit the event's namesake charitable organization. Oh, what a night!

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