Inside Jane Goodall’s 83rd birthday party in Rosedale

By Toronto Life| Photography by Sam Santos

Every year, the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada gets a rowdy group of chimp lovers together for a bash in the Distillery District. But last night, to celebrate the doctor’s 83rd birthday and the foundation’s 40th anniversary, they opted for a more intimate cocktail party—complete with birthday cake and singing—in the Rosedale mansion of Tom and Nicole Antony. (Tom is the president of Peregrine Investment Management, and was asked to host the party by one of the Institute’s committee members.)

Guests shelled out $500 a pop to mingle with Goodall, sample fine scotch and munch on vegetarian appetizers whipped up on the spot from an impressive lineup of chefs, including Flock’s Cory Vitiello and Campagnolo’s Craig Harding. Goodall snapped photos with every fawning guest and declared to a room of bigwigs like Galen Weston, Jr., “If there are any climate change deniers in the room, I suggest you leave immediately.”

At the end of the evening (after guests had imbibed a few apple pie whiskey cocktails from the Drake’s Gord Hannah), the foundation auctioned off chimpanzee finger paintings, which went for up to $4,000 each. A bottle of 12-year-old Glenlivet scotch signed by Goodall fetched $800. She’s a well-known scotch lover—her mother used to have a “wee dram” ever night at 7 p.m., and Goodall and her sister still raise a nightly glass to their late mum. Also, she travels 300 days a year for speaking gigs, and says it helps with her vocal cords. “I’ve just found my fourth opera singer to back this up,” she said:


The fundraiser’s lineup of famous chefs has stayed the same for years—they continue to volunteer because they’re fans of Goodall. Harding served up a decadent blue cheese gnocchi:


The menu and cocktails were supposed to be sustainable, so, instead of beef or chicken, Vitiello made tasty roasted eggplant, pepper and goat cheese sliders:


There was also an expansive cheese spread courtesy of The Cheese Boutique’s Afrim Pristine:


Delica Kitchen’s Devin Connell made Goodall’s birthday cake and some delightful pavlovas:


The night’s MC was Juno-winning jazz singer Molly Johnson. She was slightly surprised to be speaking and not singing at the event, though she did lead the crowd in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday”:


Even Weston wore a nametag:


He and Alexandra Weston chatted with guests, but left before the auction started:


G Adventures CEO Bruce Poon Tip won the silent auction item, a 1965 National Geographic with Goodall on the cover, for $2,000. He missed a Raptors playoff game to attend the event. “I’m a 22-year season-ticket holder, but I’m here instead,” he said:


Ziya Tong, the host of the Discovery Channel’s Daily Planet, credits Goodall as one of her heroes, and bought a photo of a rescued gorilla at another fundraiser:


Approximately 120 guests showed up:



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