Yehuda ‘Edwin’ Mirvish (1914-2007) was born in Virginia to Jewish immigrants from Austria and Lithuania. After going bankrupt, his family moved to Toronto, where Ed’s father initially worked as a door-to-door salesman before opening a small grocery store. The family lived in a space above the store, shared with a Hebrew school. When Mirvish was 15 his father died, forcing Ed to drop out of school in order to manage the store. The business wasn’t doing well, so Mirvish went on to try other store ideas including a dry cleaner and a dress shop. Finally, in 1948 Mirvish opened the famous “Honest Ed’s”, stocked with inexpensive items purchased at bankruptcy sales. The store became an instant hit, and over the years grew to fill an entire block. Mirvish purchased more buildings around the area, but was denied permission to demolish them. So he turned them into low-cost housing for artists, and this community, now known as “Mirvish Village” became Toronto’s art hub. A patron of the arts, Mirvish was also a noted philanthropist, donating 10,000 pounds of Turkey every year, among other things. Mirvish is famous for being a theatre tycoon. He bought the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1962, saving it from demolition, built the Princess of Wales Theatre, and managed the Canon Theatre (now renamed the Ed Mirvish Theatre). His company, Mirvish Productions, brought many Broadway hits to Toronto, including The Lion King, Mamma Mia! and Hairspray. Beloved by the city, he held a free carnival every year on his birthday, which has been designated ‘Ed Mirvish Day’. He was awarded the Order of Canada, and Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Words of the Week
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
– Albert Einstein