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.
The setting for Govan Brown’s 2nd Annual Hacker’s Open was Scarlett Woods Golf Course in Toronto’s West End, as is tradition. This hollowed, employee-only, event - always well attended - was missing some marquee talent with reigning champion Joseph Kirk not in the field. That said, it offered the large 19-man field an opportunity to make a name for themselves and cement their name in the annals of this great game. The day, Friday, August 19th, was one whose beauty could only be surpassed by a Mackenzie Herd drive. Unfortunately, he too was not in attendance. The finish was a tight one with the top 5 participants all finishing within 6 strokes of each other: Colin Gray, +16; Dan Groen, +14; Jonas Valdez, +13; Ed McGinley, +12; and the victor, Shawn Coston, with an impressive +11 score.
In 2016, Govan Brown held its annual summer party at a unique venue: our own office clubhouse. Having moved to our new office in 2013, this past summer was the first opportunity that we have actually had to use the facility due to ongoing construction on the premises. Taking place on June 16, the theme of the party was Luau and as such, the patio was decked out with a Tiki Bar serving tropical drinks, limbo, and an island-inspired feast. Kids were treated to a bouncy castle, caricature and balloon artists, a face painter and a costumed character from Paw Patrol; adults on the other hand were given the opportunity to battle it out in an inflatable gladiator pit, American Gladiators style. At the end of the night, an ice cream trolley was on the premises to provide the cherry on top of a wonderful evening.
It has been an office tradition for over 6 years now where volunteers around Toronto give up 20-30 minutes of their work day to help clean up their neighborhoods. It’s an event held by the City of Toronto known as the 20 Minute Clean Up and every year, in an attempt to clean up residual garbage on the streets that winter has left behind, Govan Brown offers its man power to the effort. 2016’s event took place on Friday, April 22nd and 20 or so Govan Brown volunteers combed the streets of Dundas West, Pacific Avenue, and Keele Street picking up trash on the sidewalks, parks and alleyways. Afterwards, and to kick off patio season, we headed on over to local Junction eatery Gabby’s for apps and beverages.