Memorable Manitobans: Albert Diamond Cohen (1914-2011)
Businessman, philanthropist, author.
Born at Winnipeg on 20 January 1914, he started an import company with his father which would become General Distributors and later Gendis Inc. His company holdings included real estate, oil and gas properties, investments in pipelines, and several retail chains including SAAN Stores, Metropolitan Stores, and Greenberg Stores. He brought Sony products to Canada after signing the first export agreement with what became the Sony Corporation. In the early 1950s, he introduced Canada to the Paper-Mate pen. The author of four business books, his first, The Entrepreneurs, was a Canadian bestseller in 1985.
During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1943 to 1946, stationed out of Halifax and Digby, Nova Scotia.
His philanthropic support included such institutions as the Manitoba Centennial Corporation, University of Manitoba, St. John’s-Ravenscourt School, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Banff Centre, and several Winnipeg hospitals. He served two terms as President of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre during which time he helped oversee construction of the current theatre facility. He was part of a group that helped to save St. John’s-Ravenscourt School in the mid 1970s during a financial crisis. He also served as President of the Winnipeg Clinic Research Foundation and was a board member of the Du Maurier Arts Council. He was an avid speed skater and held several Canadian records in the over-70 age class. He was a member of the Glendale Golf Club for many decades.
He received numerous awards, including the IDEA (International Distinguished Entrepreneur) Award for business prowess and integrity. He was inducted into the Order of Canada (member 1983, officer in 1994), Canadian Business Hall of Fame (1994), and the Order of Japan (2011). He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Manitoba (1987) and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002). He was inducted posthumously into the Manitoba Business Hall of Fame (2013).
He died at Winnipeg on 21 November 2011 and was buried in the Shaarey Zedek Cemetery.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 23 November 2011.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 26 December 2021