Mr. Speaker, famed intellectual Marshall McLuhan once penned the phrase, “Culture is Our Business”; business is our culture. The noted University of Toronto professor may have written that, but Avie Bennett personified it.
This past weekend Avie Bennett passed away at 89 years old.
Avie Bennett may be best known for rescuing the publishing house known as McClelland & Stewart back in 1985. It is the publishing house that first gave Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, and Michael Ondaatje to Canadians and then to the world. When it was on the verge of collapse, Mr. Bennett led the charge to save it.
Mr. Bennett made his fortune as a developer, but he made his mark in our country building some of this nation's great cultural institutions: Canada's National Ballet School, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Frank Gehry addition to that. York University was led by this great Canadian and Torontonian. They all benefited from his leadership.
He was a quiet giant. When awarded a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2004, he was described as “one of the great altruists of our time.”
Our artists, Toronto, and this nation will miss Avie, but not as much as his family will. He travelled them far, and they will travel with him within their hearts forever more.
Farewell and I thank him.