11-13-2020

The 17th edition of the Soirée des Grands Philanthropes benefitting Portage was held on October 24, 2020. Due to Public Health directives, the winning formula of the annual event, which usually gathers together more than 700 distinguished members of the business community, had to be completely redesigned. So, this year, participants once again offered their steadfast support to Portage by sharing a meal at home.

The pandemic has been a challenging time for the Portage Foundation team as well as its partners. Since March, the Foundation has had to cancel all of its fundraising activities and rethink its way of doing things. One of the objectives this year was to maintain the Soirée des Grands Philanthropes by reimagining the event in light of current circumstances.

Over the summer, the event was totally redesigned, with several options being considered. The initial option was to arrange for participants to host six guests (table of 8) in the comfort of their own home. RE Le Traiteur of the Faimont The Queen Elizabeth would cater a full-service gastronomic meal at participants’ homes. Our generous donors agreed to this new version of the event and were ready as always to support the cause. 

Then came the second wave of the pandemic, followed by a partial lockdown. That’s when plan B came into play and the logistics of the event were completely overhauled. With the outstanding cooperation of the catering teams at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth and Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, a gastronomic meal was delivered to the homes of all registered participants, for a total of 365 meals!

The 17th edition paid tribute to all the philanthropists who have supported Portage’s cause over many years. An introductory video was played to raise awareness about Portage’s cause and to highlight the role of philanthropy in our society.  Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins, and Louis Vachon, President and CEO of the National Bank, agreed to act as spokespersons for the event; they are outstanding ambassadors for Portage. 

On October 24th, the special 17th edition of the Soirée des Grands Philanthropes saw 365 meals delivered to the homes of generous donors in the Montréal and Québec City areas.  Participants donned aprons bearing the Portage colours and followed the instructions of Executive Chef Baptiste Peupion of the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth to produce a refined, five-course meal.

François Olivier, President and Chief Executive Officer, TC Transcontinental and member of Honorary Committee of the Soirée; Isabelle Marcoux, Chairman of the Board, TC Transcontinental

The event also featured an auction, which came to a close at midnight, after which the results of the evening were announced. And what a success it was! The totally revamped edition of the Soirée  des Grands Philanthropes generated net proceeds of $1,350,000, including $4, 875 in auction sales, a record in these very challenging times! The event owes its success to the colossal amount of work that went into making it a reality and to the tremendous solidarity of all those involved.    

The Portage family wishes to thank the co-chairpersons of the event, Charles Emond, Alain Lemaire and Louis Vachon, as well as the members of the honorary committee: Louis Audet, Grégoire Baillargeon, André Chagnon, Guy Cormier, Hugo D’Amours, Robert Dumas, Marcel Dutil, Serge Godin, Peter A. Howlett, Karine Moses, François Olivier, John A. Rae and Colette Taylor.

Alain Lemaire
Co-founder and chairman of the board, Cascades and co-chairman of the Soirée

While the Soirée des Grands Philanthropes is without a doubt a key annual event at Portage, this special 17th edition will long be remembered as proof that generosity and support know no boundaries. The soirée des grands philanthropes – sharing a meal, saving lives.

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