Gord Brown’s legacy hon­oured

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - RON­ALD ZA­JAC

On Brockville’s night of com­mu­nity pride, lo­cals hon­oured a fierce com­mu­nity booster who left us too soon.

The Brockville and Dis­trict Cham­ber of Com­merce paid trib­ute Thurs­day night to the late MP Gord Brown, hon­our­ing him with the Pres­i­dent’s Award.

“The legacy he left us is broad and last­ing,” cham­ber pres­i­dent Pat Markovich told the crowd at the cham­ber’s 59th an­nual Awards of Ex­cel­lence gala at the Memo­rial Cen­tre hall.

“To me, Gord was a true pub­lic ser­vant who tire­lessly worked for the whole com­mu­nity.”

Brown, the pop­u­lar MP who was elected three times to rep­re­sent the lo­cal rid­ing, died sud­denly on May 2 of a heart at­tack; he was 57.

His widow, Clau­dine Cour­tois, and brother Jeff ac­cepted the award, the first time that dis­tinc­tion has been handed out posthu­mously.

Cour­tois, strug­gling with her emo­tions, spoke briefly: “Keep Gordie in your hearts.”

And there was lit­tle doubt that it would.

The pre­sen­ta­tion in­cluded a mov­ing video trib­ute to Brown, and the late MP’s good friend, On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs Min­is­ter and lo­cal MPP Steve Clark, found it dif­fi­cult to speak im­me­di­ately af­ter.

Clark said Brown also never tired of shout­ing this com­mu­nity’s virtues from the rooftops.

“For him, this was the best place to live in the en­tire coun­try,” said Clark.

“Gord was re­ally, truly, so very proud of be­ing your mem­ber of Par­lia­ment,” he added. “I miss him ev­ery day.” “Peo­ple will re­al­ize, in the years to come, all the work that Gord Brown did in the rid­ing.”

Jeff Brown took the op­por­tu­nity to talk up a com­ing event that would have been dear to his brother’s heart, the char­ity hockey game in Gananoque on Nov. 28 that now bears his name as a memo­rial.

Or­ga­niz­ers hope the game will raise about $100,000, which will go to the United Way and to­ward the con­struc­tion of the Gord Brown Memo­rial Canada 150 Out­door Rink.

The night in­cluded briefer trib­utes to two other de­parted friends.

MC Bruce Wylie briefly eu­lo­gized the late Roger Clark, once a reg­u­lar at city coun­cil meet­ings and a com­mu­nity vol­un­teer, while for­mer cham­ber pres­i­dent Laura Good paid trib­ute to the late Gord Phillips, a long­time friend of the cham­ber who over­saw its group in­sur­ance.

A high­light of the gala was the an­nounce­ment of the four re­main­ing win­ners.

The Brockville Coun­try Club was named Busi­ness of The Year, while the Small Busi­ness of the Year is Alan Browns.

The Com­mu­nity Ex­cel­lence Award went to out­go­ing YMCA of Brockville and Area CEO Diana Deakin-Thomas, while the city’s re­cently-reborn Com­mu­ni­ties in Bloom com­mit­tee won the Tourism Award.

Alan Browns owner Dave Shaw pro­vided some of the evening’s comic en­ter­tain­ment, jok­ing that, while his King Street West cloth­ing store is a down­town cor­ner­stone, it is also “a breed­ing sanc­tu­ary for dozens of com­mon pi­geons.”

Awards such as Small Busi­ness of the Year shine an im­por­tant spot­light on small spe­cialty re­tail­ers, an en­dan­gered species in the age of on­line shop­ping, said Shaw.

“Your con­tin­ued recog­ni­tion … and sup­port of small busi­nesses will keep your com­mu­nity dol­lars in your com­mu­nity,” said Shaw.

Deakin-Thomas, who will soon leave her po­si­tion at the lo­cal Y, broke with tra­di­tion by invit­ing the two other nom­i­nees to the stage with her: Po­lice Chief Scott Fraser, rep­re­sent­ing the Brockville Po­lice Ser­vice’s Con­nec­tions Pro­gram, and Jane Fullar­ton, rep­re­sent­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion she runs, Big Broth­ers Big Sis­ters of Leeds and Grenville.

Deakin-Thomas said she learned to ap­pre­ci­ate the com­mu­nity with an out­sider’s eye when she came here four years ago.

“Com­mu­nity ex­cel­lence is fos­tered when one works, lives and plays in an ex­cel­lent com­mu­nity,” she said.

She be­came emo­tional at the thought of her im­mi­nent de­par­ture, but said she will re­turn here fre­quently, es­pe­cially dur­ing the boat­ing sea­son.

Anne Barabash, rep­re­sent­ing Com­mu­ni­ties in Bloom, also rec­og­nized the other nom­i­nees for tourism, Cul­ture Days and the Red, Hot and Blue Rock­a­billy Week­end, in her speech.

She praised the work of the Bloom vol­un­teers, not­ing that, while “Com­mu­ni­ties in Bloom may sound pretty,” the work can be far from it.

“We know we’ll get our hands dirty and we wel­come it,” she said.

Glenn Sin­gle­ton, gen­eral man­ager of the coun­try club, thanked the em­ploy­ees.

“I kind of liken it to a bit of a sports team where you’ve got dif­fer­ent teams within the team,” he said.

That in­cludes the front-line team and the man­age­ment team. said Sin­gle­ton.

“The most im­por­tant team that we have is our club mem­bers,” he added.

“With­out them, there wouldn’t be a club.”

RON­ALD ZA­JAC/THE RECORDER AND TIMES

Clau­dine Cour­tois, cen­tre, widow of the late MP Gord Brown, and Jeff Brown re­ceive the Pres­i­dent's Award from Brockville and Dis­trict Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Pat Markovich at the Awards of Ex­cel­lence gala on Thurs­day night.

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