Govan Brown held its annual family summer BBQ on Thursday, June 8 at our headquarters. 100+ Govan Brown employees and their families were met with a cowboy themed party clad with cowboy hats for everyone. Citizen catering lit up the grill to provide us with all the meats a BBQ can provide with all the trimmings. Guests were treated to Citizen's famous burgers, corn dogs, southered fried chicken, ribs, and grilled flank steak. While some of the adults preferred the Clubhouse rooftop setting overlooking the sundown, the others preferred the entertainment located in our staff parking lot. Despite pony rides, a large inflatable bouncy castle, and line dancing lessons, the mechanical bull stole the show. People including kids lined up to score the longest record without falling off and so far, Mackenzie Herd, bull-rider extraordinaire claimed the #1 spot with 11 seconds of bumps and bruises.
Meanwhile Chris Ruela gathered up cowboys and cowgirls for private line dancing lessons and considering they only had 5 minutes of prep time, they all managed to tackle the Achy Breaky Heart with fancy footwork with great ease; surely all fine contenders for Billy Ray Cyrus' dancing entourage.
While the event was a success and fun was had by all, it will be tough to top this party next year.
With April comes one of the finest sporting events known to planet earth, Masters Weekend. To honor the infamous Golf contest in Augusta, Georgia, on Friday, April 7th 2017, Govan Brown office employees had the opportunity to participate in the most coveted office sporting event in the GTA, the GB Putting Masters. The field of 17 golfers battled for the office Green Jacket on a course of 5 holes, 90 yards and a Par of 12. It was a close race but for a second consecutive year, an estimator won and for a second consecutive year Tyler Brown came in second. Congratulations to Tom Mason for winning the jacket with a score of 13. We are so proud of his hard work and determination in earning this great honour. Last year's winner, Jonas Valdez, was on hand to gift the jacket to Tom in a fine display of sportsmanship. Unfortunately, Tyler was unable to allow the moment to go by gracefully and was found sulking in the background. It would seem that Tyler is golf’s new Sergio: so close but so far away.
On March 3rd, the Govan Brown Toronto team took the afternoon off to visit Rinx and bond over a myriad of zany sports. After a long and busy winter, the afternoon provided a great escape for our hardworking staff to blow off some steam and take out some aggression… on each other. After visiting the bar area, the staff had the option of participating in three separate events including whirly ball, a mix of bumper cars, lacrosse and basketball; laser tag, pretty self-explanatory; and Balladium, an American gladiator-style target cannon game. With a fresh injection of confidence, our team was prepared to compete to the fullest, even if at times that meant slight subordination. There were no winners or losers, only bruisers on this day. You would be surprised at how little encouragement was needed to release the inner warrior in the most timid Govan Brown employee. With all that aggression spent, our team sat down to a nice pub-style lunch and went home tired, sore and more relaxed.
On Sunday February 19th, 6 of Govan Brown's finest athletes had the opportunity to participate in the 2nd annual Ponder This! Hockey Tournament in support of the Cam's Kids Foundation. The tournament, which took place in Uxbridge, was to be a 3 on 3 shinney competition played on a collection of ponds in the beautiful Skyloft Resort conservation area. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you ask) the day before and the day of the tournament were both in double digits, ruining the ice. Despite unseasonal temperatures, the day prevailed, and the tournament was played on shoes. Although our team didn't have the best outing, we had fun all the same. The Ponder This! Hockey Tournament is held in support of Cam Hick’s Kids Foundation (Cam’s Kids) which is focused on providing support to youth struggling with anxiety, helping them to cope effectively in order to reach their full potential and realize their dreams.
For the past 3 winters, instead of running a usual Secret Santa gift exchange, Govan Brown has opted to spin the gift giving tradition into something new. For our version of the game, the Toronto staff will pull names out of a hat and they will buy a gift for whoever’s name they drew. The game changes here. To add a charitable slant, the gifts that our participants buy are not for the recipients as they are right now, they buy gifts that they believe their recipients would have played with as a child. This interesting take on a classic allows everyone to try to guess the pasts of their colleagues and to get to know each other better. Once we have a public opening, all the gifts are gathered and donated to Chum City Toy Drive courtesy of RBC. This year we donated over 50 gifts for kids across Toronto.
In 2015, Govan Brown’s Internal Marketing Commitee decided to do something a little different for the holiday season. After much deliberation, a new endeavour was born. Operation Site Souper aims to help combat hunger and keep people warm. In 2016, we ran the program once again and we set up shop (by Seton House) and handed out home-made soup and biscuits to the homeless. We also served up some Christmas goodies, coffee, hot chocolate w/marshmallows, egg nog and a lot of holiday cheer. We distributed Warm Kits that we had previously put together that consisted of a toque, gloves, socks and a scarf wrapped up in a canvas bag. Senior Partners Jon, John and Ralph were among the volunteers and witnessed first hand, a new tradition in the making. The event was well received, not only by the recipients of our new endeavour, but also amongst our staff. It gave them an opportunity to ‘give back’ to the community along with their peers.
For the holiday season and in good ol’ Govan Brown fashion, we decided to “give back” some more. As we have done for the past few years, Govan Brown held it’s Annual winter food drive. To encourage the largest collection possible, Govan Brown offices are pitted against one another to try and collect the most cans per capita, the winner receiving a pizza lunch courtesy of the losing office. Vancouver looked to defend their crown from 2015 when they collected 55.1 cans per person – in total our national total was 4,142 cans. This year the champion was un seated by Edmonton where our team managed to collect an astounding 88.4 cans per person! Vancouver claimed second place with an impressive 49.5 cans per person; Ottawa followed with 27 cans per person; Toronto, our largest office, had an average 11.4 person (a total of 1437 cans) and Calgary followed close behind. In total we managed to collect over 3,500 cans, all of which were distributed to local food banks in their respective cities.
Govan Brown has been a huge proponent of the Movember movement for almost 5 years, but in 2016 we embarked upon a novel campaign to raise awareness for men’s health issues and combat the health dangers facing men. We aptly named this initiative the Move It or Lose it Campaign. In addition to our traditional awareness strategies through social media, this year we organized a kickoff Movember march around the Junction neighborhood to bring the message to the people. Many men’s health issues are caused or expedited by immobility and a lack of exercise, thus the Move It or Lose It campaign works to combat the negative effects of being stationary. To bolster this focus on exercise, we set a goal for our office: to collect a hundred work out hours. For extra motivation we placed a large Will Ferrell cut out in our office with a scale from his toes to his nose. The scale, which ascended from 1 to 100 would count the hours we had put towards the initiative; our marker being a mustache. For each hour you put in at the gym, or ran outside or other exercise, you would move the mustache an hour up. The goal being that once we reached the 100 hour mark we could return the mustache to Will’s face, turning him once again into Mr. Ron “Anchorman” Burgundy. Our on-site gym has never been busier and thanks to employee-run boot camps and pick up soccer games, we managed to reach our goal in only 24 days. Next year we will have to raise the bar to really challenge ourselves. At the end of the month we had a Movember shaving party where all the fine men that grew mustaches shaved in front of a crowded party. Although some were thankful to have their fresh faces back, a few others are considering making the mo-life a permanent one.
On October 12, 2016, our team once again participated in the United Way Stair Climb. The intense event challenges teams to climb various Toronto skyscapers to raise money for the United Way. Our team elected to participate in the most difficult event: a four tower climb of 220 floors - Commerce Court West (50 Floors), First Canadian Place (71 Floors), TD Canada Trust Tower (45 Floors), and Toronto Dominion Centre (54 Floors). To put that in perspective, the CN Tower is 147 floors, essentially the stairclimb is one and a half times the height of the former tallest structure in the world. That’s a lot of stairs! Our four team members conquered the climb without breaking a sweat – well that’s not true but they did manage to complete the arduous challenge well before the average finishing time.