'Honest Ed' Mirvish dies at the age of 92
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Wednesday, July 11, 2007 4:38PM EDT
The businessman known as 'Honest Ed', who entertained Toronto for decades with crazy slogans at his legendary discount department store, has died at the age of 92.
A statement from the family says he died early Wednesday at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.
Born July 24, 1914, in Colonial Beach, Va., Mirvish was just weeks away from his 93rd birthday.
After moving to Toronto in 1923, Mirvish lived with his family above their downtown Dundas Street grocery store.
At 15, Mirvish's father died and he dropped out of school to support his family.
He was best known for his world-famous "Honest Ed's" bargain store on the corner of Bloor and Bathurst streets.
The store featured discount prices and funny slogans like:
- 'Welcome, don't faint at our low prices, there's no place to lie down.'
- 'We don't offer service. We have a slogan--serve yourself and save a lot of money.'
In a tradition that began on his 75th birthday, Mirvish gave away 1,000 free turkeys in his store to shoppers every Christmas.
Toronto Mayor David Miller, who is in Cleveland, said Mirvish's passion for Toronto was second to none.
Miller said in a statement that Mirvish could only be described as a local hero who helped to make Toronto the great city it is.
Toronto councillor and deputy mayor Joe Pantalone described Mirvish as "incredibly influential" and crucial to the development of west-end Toronto.
"He has been a pioneer and an icon. If Ed Mirvish had not been around, Toronto would not be the cosmopolitan and the cultural capital that it," Pantalone told CTV News on Wednesday.
"The city owes a lot to Ed Mirvish, that's why this is a time of sadness but also reflection and appreciation. We would not be who we are if Ed Mirvish had not made his contributions in the economic and cultural field."
Mirvish played a crucial role in expanding Toronto's entertainment scene.
In 1963, Mirvish saved the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto from demolition, spending $500,000 on restoring it.
Mirvish and his son David ran Mirvish Productions, staging major theatre productions around the world.
Mirvish bought and restored the Old Vic in London, England and with his son built the award-winning Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto in 1993.
His theatres hosted such blockbusters as "The Lion King," "Mamma Mia" and "Miss Saigon."
Former Toronto mayor Mel Lastman said Mirvish's contributions to theatre in Toronto were unsurpassed.
"He was a great Canadian and he was a great Torontonian. He loved this city and he was Mr. Toronto and Mr. Entertainment," Lastman told CTV News.
"He brought live entertainment to Toronto. What a sacrifice, what a deal he had made at that time. He took an old shack and he renovated it a put a fortune into it."
In 1978 he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and promoted to Officer in 1987. He was also the recipient of more than 250 awards.
A funeral service will take place at Beth Tzedec Synagogue located at 1700 Bathurst Street on Friday at 11:00 a.m.
Donations can be made to the Ed Mirvish Educational Memorial Fund in support of up and coming entrepreneurs.
With a report from CTV's Desmond Brown