Skål International Canadian Rockies Presidents Christmas Gala Event

Christmas in the Canadian Rockies is a magical time of year and for Skålleagues, the President’s Christmas Gala is a highlight of the season.

Skål International members, partners, and guests from the region (spanning five communities and over 15,000 sq. kms) have gathered for 36 years to enjoy a formal, multi-course dinner.

Enter 2020… COVID numbers in the region had remained relatively low over the summer and into the Fall but as mid-November approached, restrictions on the size of gatherings started to amp up. Our traditional Gala needed some out of the box thinking or it would need to cancel altogether. A Zoom call with the Executive ensued and consensus was, “If we can’t bring everyone together for Christmas, we need to bring Christmas dinner to everyone”.

The invitations were sent out and a resounding 124 members and partners replied that they were “in”. More than any other Christmas Gala, ever!

The Malcolm Hotel in Canmore, and Fiddle River Restaurant in Jasper, synchronized a five-course prepared ‘Sous Vide’ dinner, with the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel supplying the dessert. Delivery or pick-up (even one by horseback in the Malcolm lobby) and ‘tips’ were suggested with proceeds going to the local food banks. Nearly $2,000 was raised!

The ‘meeting’ commenced via Zoom with a virtual reception, instruction on preparing mulled wine by two top bartenders broadcasting from the Malcolm Hotel while we enjoyed the provided charcuterie.

Skål International toast followed with supplied mini Aquavit (Skål International logoed) bottles, with greetings from our very own International President Elect, Bill Rheaume… then onto the next courses…

Sous vide is a cooking method that simmers vacuumed packed ingredients for maximum flavour and texture, so the items only needed to be re-heated in simmering water in the sealed bags. Executive Chef from the Malcolm broadcast over Zoom the exact timing for the full preparation.

As the courses were consumed, a world-renowned harpist entertained everyone with Christmas favorites from her private recording studio. In all, 62 packaged dinners for two were delivered throughout the region, and accolades flowed.

Delivery was by Skålleague volunteers, as was assembly. Assembly included over 20 items per logoed cooler, with a hand-addressed Christmas Card, dinner preparation instructions and recognition of the key volunteers.

The mission to provide a bright light of hope in a year of global darkness was felt to have been accomplished by the Club.

Please view our website, LinkedIn and Facebook pages, for more pictures of this and other events.

Andrew Shepherd
President 2020
Skål International 

Canadian Rockies

Presidents Christmas Gala Event Video: