Music icon Jim Cuddy helps Welch celebrate 100 years

Hundreds turn out to accounting firm's anniversary party at National Gallery of Canada

So much was happening in Canada back in 1918, from our troops returning home from the First World War to most women finally getting the right to vote, federally.

But it's what George A. Welch was up to at that time that most mattered to a 100-year anniversary celebration held at the National Gallery Of Canada on Wednesday. He'd been busy founding his accounting and auditing firm, Welch LLP. Not bad for a guy who had to leave school at age 10 in order to help support his family, following the death of his father.

“From his humble beginnings as a paper boy, and a chance encounter with a chartered accountant, he went on to create one of the finest public accounting firms in the region,” managing partner Micheal Burch told hundreds of guests inside the gallery’s Scotiabank Great Hall, prior to Mayor Jim Watson presenting him with a framed letter of congratulations.

Welch, which has a staff of more than 275 people across Ontario and Québec, won a best business nod at the 2017 Best Ottawa Business Awards. 

While the firm did promise a live musical performance at its anniversary party, the invitation intentionally left out the Jim Cuddy part (surprise, surprise). The frontman for iconic Canadian band Blue Rodeo and “Mikey Burch” go way back. They used to hang out while growing up in north Toronto.

Welch LLP
The Jim Cuddy Family Band performed at Welch LLP's 100th Anniversary Celebration, held Wednesday, September 12, 2018, at the National Gallery of Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips 

“Back in the day in high school, I kind of thought he would be the accountant and I would be the rock star,” Burch joked before introducing Cuddy and his band to the room full of clients, staff and partners, and friends and supporters of the firm.

Cuddy encouraged the crowd to hit the dance floor, which was customized with the Welch LLP logo. “Step right across it,” he said, assuring everyone that — unlike with the logos on NHL locker room floors — they were allowed to walk all over it.

“We’d sure like to have some dancers at this party. It would be a lot more fun with a little less talk and a little more rock.”

Welch LLP
Marianna Burch with former Ottawa Rough Rider football player Tom Pullen (he won four Grey Cups!) and Micheal Burch at Welch LLP's 100th Anniversary Celebration, held Wednesday, September 12, 2018, at the National Gallery of Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips 

Among the guests seen dancing was the founder’s son, Malcolm Welch, who had followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the firm. He was made partner at the firm in 1951. His LinkedIn page lists him as retired and enjoying life.

Welch LLP
Malcolm Welch, son of founder George Welch, with Marianna Welch at Welch LLP's 100th Anniversary Celebration, held Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at the National Gallery of Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Welch Casino Night
From left, Warren Creates from Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall, with fellow lawyer Robert Nadeau, with Kerr & Nadeau, at Welch LLP's 100th Anniversary Celebration, held Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at the National Gallery of Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Welch LLP
From left, Tina Paliwal, Heather Linton, serial entrepreneur Steve Cody and Natalie Cody at Welch LLP's 100th Anniversary Celebration, held Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at the National Gallery of Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Welch LLP
From left, Candace Enman, president of WelchGroup Consulting, with Gowling WLG partner Lorraine Mastersmith at Welch LLP's 100th Anniversary Celebration, held Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at the National Gallery of Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Welch Casino Night
From left, Susan Smith, principal at Bluesky Strategy Group, with her sister, Fiona Smith-Bradley, co-founder of Modern OT Occupational Therapy Services, at Welch LLP's 100th Anniversary Celebration, held Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at the National Gallery of Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Welch LLP
From left, Bernie Ashe, executive chair of Deslaurier Custom Cabinets, with Mayor Jim Watson and Jim Deslaurier, founder and director of business development at Deslaurier, at Welch LLP's 100th Anniversary Celebration, held Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at the National Gallery of Canada. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Welch LLP
It wasn't surprising to see Dr. Bella Mehta and her husband, Sanjay Shah, president of ExecHealth, on the dance floor at the Welch LLP party. They're big fans of Jim Cuddy, who performed that night with his band. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Welch LLP
From left, Jennifer Cross from TRUEdotDESIGN, Gillean Woods from TRUform Interiors, Mara Klammrodt, a partner at Flux Lighting, and Shelley True, owner of TRUEdotDESIGN and a member of the new Ottawa Board of Trade, at the Welch LLP party. Photo by Caroline Phillips.

Everyone left the party with a copy of Welch LLP’s 76-page, hardcover book commemorating the business, from its history to its people to its legacy.

— caroline@obj.ca