Atwater Library honours
Michael St. B. Harrison

The well-attended annual benefit cocktail party raises $70,000

By Byron Toben

Libraries – and the Atwater is no exception – are fuelled by volunteer power. Thus it is fitting that Michael St. B. Harrison was this year’s honouree at the Atwater Library’s annual fund raising cocktail party on November 1. Mr. Harrison’s career in financial services led him to being the head of the oldest independent brokerage in Canada, MacDougal, MacDougal & MacTier (3 Macs). Since retirement 13 years ago, he has been an active volunteer of several charitable causes such as the Greene Avenue Community Centre.

Amanda Jelowicki Mary Gallery - WestmountMag.ca

M.C. Amanda Jelowicki with Mary Gallery, then candidate, now newly-elected Westmount City Councillor

He was introduced by this year’s M.C, Amanda Jelowicki of Global TV.

About 250 people attended, including Westmount mayoral candidates Christine Smith and Patrick Martin. Some 56 donors contributed items to the ever-popular silent auction. These included show tickets (Centaur, Segal, Evenko), museum tickets (McCord, MMFA), fine clothing, fine dining, travel destinations and Bell Centre hockey tickets. The Canadiens contributed an autographed jersey from Andrew Shaw, plus baseball cap. (Are we still calling them ‘baseball’ caps anymore, as they have been adopted by football and basketball teams as well as hockey?)

Marshall Wainsbrough, a past president of the library, has donated a toy train plus tracks each year to the silent auction. This year’s choo choo had a painted face of the little train that could as it circled its way around.

As a one-time wannabe cartoonist, I studied the original framed Aislins available in the upstairs auditorium. Last year, I won that of Hillary Clinton putting on an Uncle Sam hat and declaiming, “It fits”. (That was one week before the electoral college system in the USA upset the popular vote.)

Again, the Dave Turner Jazz Trio pumped out cool scores in the background with Dave on alto sax, Gary Schwartz on guitar and David Gelfand on Bass. All three teach Jazz studies at Concordia. Autumn Leaves of course, and standards Black Orpheus and No Greater Love were played and Dave Turner’s own original ode to the late Charlie Biddle, Biddle on the Fiddle.

Dave Turner WestmountMag.ca

Alto saxophonist Dave Turner of the Dave Turner Jazz Trio

Quasi Vegetarian me could not resist downing a Dunn’s Famous smoked meat sandwich (I did take two pickles on the side).

Good to see popular theatre techie James Douglas helping out by designing the lighting for the event. The library’s small full-time staff of seven was joined by its 19 part-timers and others in aiding the guests.

All in all, a net of about $70,000 was achieved, mostly for operating costs. This is crucial, as the Library (established in 1828) has no endowment fund and less than $55,000 from governments in core funding. Its ongoing Capital Campaign Phase Two is co-chaired by Richard W. Pound and W. David Angus. Its focus is on conserving the windows, masonry repairs and cleaning, and an elevator.

All in all, a fun event as well as an important cause serving 100,000 user visits per year with both printed and digital materials and courses.

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Images: Matthew Perrin

Read also: The METAs celebrate their fifth anniversary


Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.


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