I am pleased to report that we have no new COVID-19 infections within our staff over the past week.  Three of the five previously reported cases are fully recovered and the other two are progressing well.

Please continue your vigilance with respect to all of the pandemic protocols.  Your efforts are making a difference.

Dealing with the uncertainty and rapid change in our business environment remains a big challenge for all of us but we are clearly doing our best to stay out in front of the issues.   I am very impressed and grateful for the resilience and resolve that all B&M’ers are showing.

I have been thinking a lot about my grandfather WJ McDonald lately.   His values are certainly serving us all well in this turbulent time and, as you can likely imagine, he had a fair bit of crisis experience back in the day.

WJ remained very robust and energetic, physically and mentally, into his late 90’s and Ian, Ross, Jamie and I were very fortunate to have known him well as kids and adults.  He had a wonderful disposition – positive, kind, engaging and curious.  He was also a very resilient, practical and hard-working man.  He had to be.

He was born in 1887 in Belwood, a small village outside of Toronto.  He was the seventh of nine children. His mother died when he was young and after completing Grade 8, WJ went to work.  By the time he founded B&M in 1921 he had already worked as a labourer, a potato picker, a cook’s helper, a Bell lineman, a railway brakeman, a real estate broker, a Toronto Hydro lineman, and a salesman for Consumers Gas.   In 1914, he enlisted in the Canadian army and survived the Great War and Spanish Influenza pandemic before returning to Toronto in 1919.   He guided our company through the Great Depression, World War II and the death of his partner Bill Black.

His long life was full of crises, setbacks, illnesses, injuries, and personal hardships and yet he never complained.  Quite the opposite, he considered himself lucky despite all the difficulties he endured.  He valued his personal relationships and friendships more than any material assets and he was very quick to attribute his success to others.  He once said, “I owe my good fortune to the persons who, at every stage of my life and in every crisis, were there to give me help when I needed it. “

He was too humble to profess a personal recipe for navigating B&M through the toughest of times.  Instead, he liked to say that good people have a way of sticking together and figuring things out.

As a person and an employer, WJ believed in people in the same way that people believed in him.  His faith was based in a basic trust in the essential goodness of most humans.  He was generous with his time, his knowledge, his resources and his support and drew many capable, like-minded people to his side.   In operating B&M, he knew that if he did people right, they would do right by him.

We retain a strong and capable community of good people to this day.   WJ’s decency, his humility and his genuine interest in the well-being of others still defines B&M culture, indelibly stamped as a motivation and inspiration for all of us.

Sadly not all people are good.  We were reminded of this cruel fact earlier this week when a deranged man in rural Nova Scotia disguised himself as a police officer and perpetrated the worst mass shooting in Canadian history, a murderous rampage that left 22 people dead.   This tragedy was a stunning setback for a province already reeling under the psychological and emotional effects of the pandemic.  I know Maritimers, including our friends and colleagues in our Atlantic Region, are a hardy and self-sufficient bunch but I am sure they could use a lift from the rest of us.

So I am sending a positive thought and a best wish eastward.  We are with you and we will figure this out too.