2013 Literary Feast – Desjardins Group gives Morrin Centre $100,000

Guests discover Desjardins’ connections to the English-speaking community

On a chilly evening in late fall, people began arriving at the Morrin Centre for its fifth annual Literary Feast, the main fundraising event of the year. A glass of champagne was served in the front hall and a harp played by Fara Almond drew guests up the steps to the Victorian library. For the first time, guests could also climb up to the mezzanine and make the acquaintance of some of the Library’s most ancient books.

Following the cocktail, the guests then proceeded to College Hall, where what had been dubbed the Leroux-Lambert banquet was to be held. Lit and His’ president, Sovita Chander, set the tone by quoting the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde. Commenting on Iceland’s recovery from the 2008 economic crisis, Lagarde said that when their economy crashed, “the banks, the funds, the government—everything was taken over by women. So when it’s messy, you get the women in. But when the mess is sorted, keep the women!”

The evening honoured and celebrated women in business, culture and the arts—women who get the mess cleaned up. Monique F. Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and CEO of the Desjardins Group, was Honorary Chair, and world-renowned architect Phyllis Lambert was keynote speaker. In her speech, Ms. Leroux told the audience how Desjardins, like the Morrin Centre, is an inclusive institution and that it had ties to the English-speaking community at its origins. Alphonse Desjardins was a member of many learned societies, and co-founded the Société de géographie de Québec with W. Simons, the brother of the founder of La Maison Simons. His acquaintance with Anglophones also had an impact on the North American Cooperative movement: he inspired the foundation of many savings banks and credit unions in Canada and in the United States. He was also friends with Earl Grey, who was the first Governor General invited to become an honorary member of Desjardins.

Today, Desjardins is still invested in the English-speaking community and has supported the Literary Feast since the beginning. Monique F. Leroux was therefore happy to announce that Desjardins, in addition to its support of the event, would be donating $100,000 to the Morrin Centre’s 2013-2016 fundraising campaign.

Canadian Icon of Architecture charms Literary Feasters

Following this wonderful news, Phyllis Lambert revealed how she became the director of planning of the Seagram Building at 27 when she convinced her father to not only put her in charge of finding the architect for the project, but also of the building’s construction. She had no experience in this field, yet this skyscraper is still regarded as the pinnacle of New York’s postwar architecture. Seagram and Lambert “changed the face of American urban architecture.” An example of what makes this deceptively simple 38-storey tower stand apart is its plaza, the first of its kind, which set the building back from the avenue and created an urban oasis for citizens. At 86, Lambert impressed the audience with her energy and passion for heritage conservation, innovation and modern art.

The mandate of the Literary Feast is to nourish mind, body and soul—and this year’s Feast met the challenge with gusto. Many familiar faces and long-time supporters were present, but also new participants discovered what makes the Centre a unique part of the city’s vitality and history.

Jeanne Lebossé-Gautron