The news is all over the country: "Honest Ed" Mirvish passed away this morning. The details of his own life, and his many contributions to life in Toronto will be recounted by many over the next few days. I have my own memory of meeting Honest Ed, way back around 1968. I was in junior high at the time, and a group of us were putting together some sort of newspaper - I can't remember whether it was a school-wide paper, or something for a class project. In any event, we decided that we wanted to feature an interview with someone famous. One of the bolder members of our intrepid little band managed to arrange an interview with Honest Ed himself.
On the appointed day, we all trooped down to the landmark store at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst that, at the time, was a major journey for a bunch of kids from Downsview. We were directed to the shoe department. The clerk swung out a wall display, behind which was a secret staircase leading up one floor to his office. In stark contrast to the haphazard displays of shmatas, shoes, and shine oil that characterized the funky department store, Ed Mirvish's office was palatial, with all sorts of memorabilia, art, sculptures, and photos adorning the walls and his massive desk. I recall that there were windows that gave him a panorama view of the main sales floor and the hustle and bustle of shoppers below. He was attentive, forthcoming in response to our questions, and seemed to have all the time in the world for this small group of school children. I felt as if we had touched royalty - and given the relative location of Toronto in the late 1960s in the large scheme of things, we probably did.
A great man who is truly one of the builders of this city. Zichronam livracha - may his memory be as a blessing.
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