It is unknown what it is about the Estimating department that allows them to keep on winning Govan Brown events, but the larger public refrains from declaring that they’re either seriously talented athletes, or that they cheat. Unbelievers often stick to the latter hypothesis. During this year’s Govan Brown Putting Masters, an event paying homage to the prestigious Masters Golf Tournament, a few Govan Brown employees took part in a 5 hole putting challenge. The office was converted into a links style course for the competition. Estimating’s own Jonas Valdez and Tyler Brown both managed to shoot a field best 18 (+1 over par) and played a playoff hole where Jonas ousted Tyler by shooting a 2 to Tyler’s 3. Although the competition has been marred with controversy, Govan Brown would like to extend its formal congratulations to Jonas on his victory which is currently being upheld, pending an investigation by the ethics committee.
On March 4th, the entire Toronto team got axed … but only for an afternoon. After the cold and dreary months of January and February, we decided to throw ourselves into something fun out of necessity, and what better way to satisfy our aggressions than to toss an axe at a piece of wood. The bracket style competition began with 64 competitors who were ranked with a preliminary vetting process and arranged according to skill level. Eventually the cream rose to the top with the last match being an all estimating final between Tom Mason and Dominic Vandersteenen, a fight-promoter’s rhyming dream. Bets were placed, cash changed hands and with a TOMinant performance (pun intended), Mr. Mason won the day. Although, with a fine buffet of chicken fingers, assorted pub fare, and zero lost-time incidents, we were all considered winners; although some, more than others, were more qualified to wear plaid shirts, trucker hats and burly beards.
Over the last 5 years, The Toronto office has participated in Chum City’s Annual Toy Drive. One of the program’s initiative is to distribute toys to children in need in the Greater Toronto Area. Our Elf Swap game ensures a fun, yet fulfilling experience for those who choose to participate. Similar to Secret Santa, names are drawn and everyone is paired up with an Elf. The goal of the game is to purchase a toy for that they think their recipient would have played with as a child and then we throw a party where each Elf gets to open their gift and take a photo before it gets donated to the cause. In 2014, over 300,000 people in need were assisted through this initiative and Govan Brown is always thrilled to be a part of it all.
Christmas at Govan Brown all across Canada is always a good time. Throw alcohol into the mix and you get karaoke. Happily introduced to the team by Sarah Paul during the 2015 summer party at a local karaoke bar in Calgary, the 2015 Christmas party was no different. Courageous folks took to the spotlight and sang their slightly out of tune, ears off. But the only pitch anyone cared about that night was the one carrying pitchers of beer. Meanwhile, the Toronto office celebrated the holidays at the local bowling alley, The Ballroom. As we all got to mix and mingle among colleagues we see so infrequently on site, it was nice to just catch up and unwind. The bowling alley, which is also one of Toronto’s most popular bars, had something to offer all in attendance including billiards, ping pong, poutine bar, open bar and of course 5 lanes of slightly competitive bowling. And while slippery surfaces, treadles shoes and alcohol can make a bad mix, everyone came out of the evening unscathed.
In addition to our busy December month of giving back to the community, our Toronto office wanted to do something a little bit different. Brainstorming happened and a few weeks later, Operation Site Souper came to fruition. The goal of the initiative was to keep the homeless warm and fed. Warm packages of toques, scarves, socks and gloves were given out as well as a warm lunch, beverages and snacks. Govan Brown parked its cube truck in front of Seton House, a homeless shelter in Toronto’s downtown. Led by Partners John Brown, Ralph Govan and Jon Taylor, a group of 20 Govan Brown volunteers set up tables - buffet-line style - for recipients to walk by and receive soup, sandwiches, cocoa and warming kits. After struggling with the generator for a couple of minutes, we were off and running at noon, and within an hour and a half, all of our supplies had been exhausted. It was truly a wonderful and humbling experience. That we were able to help those who really needed it and appreciated it the most made the entire effort worth it. We look forward to doing it again in 2016.
On Thursday, August 6th, Govan Brown's Calgary team gathered for a summer party at National On 10th. The bar, which is also home to a bowling alley and other rec room games, was the ideal location for the group to kick back, unwind, and meet some GB Toronto employees whose visit "coincidently" coincided with this open bar event. Partner, Andy Kohler flew in from Vancouver; Joe Kirk and Sarah Paul flew in from Toronto to partake in the festivities and congratulate the team for great 1st and wnd quarter. Preliminary greetings and niceties were exchanged at dinner. The crew chowed down at a large beerhall picnic table and caught up on all things not-business. After enjoying a heart helping of pub fare, the group was spit into team to bowl it out. Phil Disney a.k.a "Waltz" (get it?) took an early lead and after the fifth frame he accumulated 76 points. Not to be outdone Trevor Howie, a.k.a "Hawt Pantz" a nick name given to him by the marketing crew), trailed close behind rolling a 74 at that same juncture. Unfortunately, as the drinks flowed throughout the night, people lost focus on the score and the winner was never officially determined. Judging from the pictures, however, it looks like everyone was a winner that day.
Govan Brown's Toronto staff ventured to the Rogers Centre to watch the Birds battle reigning American League Champion Kansas City Royals on Thursday, July 30th. Occupying the greater part of a section and armed with $25 gift cards to the stadium concession stands, our 60+ entourage were fueled up and ready to cheer the Blue Jays into victory. After falling behind by 2 in the first, the Jays put in 4 consecutive scoring innings to take a 5 to 2 lead in the fifth inning. Led by an invigorated Marco Estrada, the Jays went on to shut the Royals out for the final 8 innings. After this win, the Jays only lost another game before going on an impressive 11 game winning streak and although the team didn't outwardly say it, we imagine they were spurred on by the raucous support they receieved from our large group.
To end the day on July 28th, Toronto's Govan Brown employees were treated to a BBQ party in the much anticipated office clubhouse and patio. The clubhouse, which has been under construction for the past year, is an employee centric environment for staff to hang out, watch TV, eat lunch and relax.
The roof top patio -accessed via clubhouse through glass sliding doors - is elegantly furnished by patio chairs and tables while also being supported by a BBQ. The BBQ itself was held to celebrate the grand opening of our rooftop patio and clubhouse and July 28th was the perfect day to do so. The sun was shining and the weather was hot; fortunately the beer and wine was cold.
The party was catered by Citizen who provided the hungry team with burgers, hot dogs, corn, popcorn, salads and much more. While also being an awesome way of breaking in the new space, it also provided new Govan Brown employees to meet their peers in a more casual environment: nothing brings a team together like BBQ, sun and beer.
On Saturday, June 27, despite a steady drizzle that greyed the Toronto morning, Govan Brown employees and their families gathered at the Balmy Beach Club for a summer party. The large, ornamented hall was filled with beach and Muskoka paraphernalia as the theme for this year's party as "The Tragically, Hip Summer Beach BBQ" and thus all things distinctly Canadian were represented.
In the spirit of the theme, the signature drink for the event was a "Rock Shot," (in reference to curling) that - when poured and mixed - took on a clear and red hue matching the Canadian flag. The atmosphere was enhanced by a banner depicting a fresh Kawartha landscape that we placed Muskoka chairs in front for pictures. Beside this vignette was a little playground for the kids with sand castle building materials, beach balls and frisbees. For the adults, there was a fully stocked bar; and gaining courage from the contents within, one was apt to give the Karaoke machine a go, which many did, although we wish they hadn't!
As the event name implies, and as most Saturday cottage afternoon should entail, the day was perfected by a large BBQ feast. As we ate and listened to the questionable Karaoke skills of our friends and co-workers, we forgot about the rain outside.