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Joseph D. Carrier Biography

Joseph D. Carrier - 'I Am My Brother's Keeper'

By Catherine Smyth (cont'd)page 1 | page 2 | page 3 | page 4 | page 5

The shoe business, J.D. Carrier Shoe Company, grew in to a manufacturing empire which at its peak included factories in Toronto, Brampton, Midland, Montreal, Buffalo and Florence, Italy, employing over 2,000.

Toni Fiore who has been his secretary for the past 29 years calls him a "compassionate and wonderful employer. He was something special to his employees. They all loved him. His heart and pocketbook have always been ready," Fiore adds. "I'm quite a few years younger and I can't keep up to him, I have to run," she laughs.

With an expanding business running along the humanitarian lines he's always advocated, Carrier began his involvement with community projects starting as a member of the Knights of Columbus. He became active in the Columbus Boys Club on Toronto's Bellwoods Ave. among whose projects was a camp for underprivileged children

"I remember how pleased I was as a kid when The Star Fresh Air Fund sent me to camp," says Carrier, "and it gave me real joy to be able to help do the same thing for another generation."

Johnny Lombardi recalls those days, too. "Joe was always there when help was needed at the boys' club," he says. "Maybe the organ would need fixing or something else was needed. He never saw them go short of either assistance or money."

Drawing on his experience as a successful union leader and a businessman, Carrier went on to take founding leadership in many other organizations. The postwar surge in immigration brought hundreds of thousands of Italians to Ontario and Carrier, with established members of the community organized the Italian Immigrant Aid Society. In order to give Italians a stronger voice in the Metro Toronto community, he got the Canadian-Italian Business and Professional Association started. Today it has 400 members.

His efforts were turned not only toward helping Italian newcomers. Dr. Paul Rekai who with his brother, the late Dr. John Rekai, founded Toronto's Central Hospital - a pioneer in health care for immigrants - remembers how Carrier came to the aid of the fledgling hospital.

"We opened in 1957 with 35 beds," says Rekai. Before long it became apparent we needed many more beds. Joe Carrier had a factory just around the corner and one day he walked in and asked if he could help us. We had decided to begin a fundraising campaign to make Central into a facility that would be eligible for classification as a public general hospital: Joe's dedication and creativity helped carry us through the campaign and I'm proud to say that to this day he remains a life member on our board of directors.

"He personally gave $50,000. You know between staff and volunteers at Central we speak over 30 languages and can thus be a great help to newcomers and even old people who have never mastered English. It's a far cry from the days when Joe first came to Toronto, but it's been people like this remembering their roots, who have made this city a better place to live." [ cont'd ] >>

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