Founder of Birnam Excavating Ltd.

Our patriarch and founder of Birnam left us peacefully on March 20, 2021

Frank Van Bree was born in Holland on December 22, 1934. He was the fourth child of 12 born to Martin and Josephine Van Bree.  He immigrated from North Someren, Holland to Watford, Ontario with his parents and 11 siblings in 1950.  At a young age he learned the importance of hard work. To support their large family, he and his 11 siblings worked together in the fields, barn, gardens and in their communities to make money. He spent his “working years” working with dirt and trying to get water to flow in the right direction via farm and municipal drainage, all the while setting a strong foundation for the company Birnam is today.  For Frank, hard work went hand in hand with hard play. He took various jobs working in construction and driving trucks. After starting up his trucking company “Frank Van Bree Trucking” he expanded it to become Van Bree Drainage which would grow with the partnership of his brother Paul. In 1973, the two brothers would change their directions and Frank, his wife Elsie and key employee, Doug George, would form Birnam Excavating Ltd, switching focus to work in municipal drainage.

Frank’s legacy is not only the business he founded with Birnam Excavating Ltd, but it is also the entrepreneurial spirit and strong business sense he and Elsie passed on to their four children who have all gone on to lead, grow & or develop strong family businesses in their communities.  He was a community man – spending ___ years as Councillor for Warwick Township, became the Volunteer Equipment Manager/ “Drainage Guy” for his beloved retirement home in Florida and quietly supported those in need in his family and community wherever he could.

During the last 2 weeks of his life, Birnam had the honour of working on the next phase of development at Townsend Meadows where Frank and Elsie lived. Frank sat daily and watched out the back window beaming with pride and joy at the company he created.  When the job wrapped up for Birnam, and we all can’t help but think Frank felt the same about his time on earth. A job well done, substantial completion achieved, and when the equipment moved out, so did Frank… He is missed.

“Don’t be sad that I am gone. Be happy that I lived life to the fullest.” As requested by Frank -please raise a glass of whiskey in celebration of a life well lived.