I was born in Saskatoon in 1929 to James Maurice and Elsie Patricia Cantor. My father was born in Miedzyrzec, Poland, in 1899 and came to Canada in 1904. My mother was born near Kiev in Ukraine in 1900 and came to Canada in 1911. I have one sister, Lora.
In 1936, we moved to Regina where I attended Lakeview Public School and Central Collegiate High School. I was a Cub, a Boy Scout and a member of AZA. In high school, I worked on the yearbook and I was a member of the Air Cadets Rifle Parade Squad.
I came to Winnipeg in 1947 for university, enrolling in Commerce and then Law. For the University of Manitoba Students' Union, I was stage manager of the Stage Society, worked on The Manitoban, the Public Relations Committee, and chaired the Publicity Committee and the Bylaws Revision Committee. I was Treasurer of my fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu, and was Student Director of Hillel. I was active with the University Liberal Party and held cabinet positions in Student Parliament.
I was President of the Manitoba Young Liberal Association and, later, the South Winnipeg Liberal Riding Association. I was a full delegate at the Party Leadership conventions that elected Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. I was privileged to sign Trudeau's nomination papers.
In 1956, I met Gloria Shapiro and we were married in 1957. We have four children: Stephen (1959); Susan (1962), married to Doug Foster; Diana (1965); and Rabbi David (1970), married to Kedma (née Christine Barnson). David and Kedma have given us four wonderful grandchildren: Yoash, Avniel, Shoshana, and Devora.
On being called to the Bar in 1954, I joined my uncle, Alex Cantor Q.C., at Cantor, Matas, Simkin and Cantor. On my uncle's death and the elevation to the bench of Roy Matas, the firm became "Simkin, Cantor, Goltsman and Rosenberg" and then "Simkin, Gallagher" after a merger. It was a firm of 30 lawyers and 75 support staff; I served as Managing Partner and later Chairman of its Executive Committee. My focus was commercial and corporate law. During the 1960s, I focused on mergers and acquisitions with land development and construction companies in Western Canada. In the 1970s and 1980s, my practice involved developing nursing homes throughout Canada and childcare facilities in Canada and the U.S. When the firm dissolved, in 1993, I became Senior Vice-President, Secretary, and General Counsel to a group of private companies in the then emerging electronic commerce industry. I travelled to Europe regularly in this position. For the first three years, I moved with the Company's head office to San Diego for the winter, returning to Winnipeg in the spring. In 1997, I was moved to Toronto for three years. In 2000, I retired from the Company and returned to Winnipeg, where I then served as Counsel to Pitbaldo LLP until 2011.
I was active for many years in the Manitoba Bar Association, and served as President in 1983—84. I also served on the National Executive of the Canadian Bar Association. I taught regularly and was a panellist in continuing legal educational activities, co-chaired the Isaac Pitblado Lectures on Environmental Law; and once prepared a paper for the Bar Association on the effect of anti-inflation regulations on legal practice. I was a member of the Special Committee on Corporate Law, organized by the Director, Corporations Branch, Province of Manitoba, which produced the Manitoba Companies Act; and served on the Canadian Bar Association's Special Committee studying proposals for a New Business Corporations Law for Canada, which lead to the Canada Business Corporations Act. I was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1987 and, in 1992, I received the Manitoba Bar Association's President's Award. I am a Life Council Member of the Manitoba Bar Association. In 2005, I was honoured by the Law Society of Manitoba for having practised for 50 years.
I've had extensive community involvement over the years, including serving as: a Director of the Mount Carmel Clinic; the first Chairman of the City of Winnipeg Assiniboine Park Resident Advisory Group; a Director of the Council for Canadian Unity; President of Bel Acres Golf & Country Club; Master (twice) of Menorah Masonic Lodge No. 167 AF & AM; President of the Winnipeg North Rotary Club (and current Chair of its Scholarships Committee); President of the Estate Planning Council of Winnipeg; a Director of the Manitoba Law Foundation; first Chair of the Environment/Sustainable Development Committee of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce; first President of the Loni Beach Residents Association; and District Deputy Grand Master for the 13th Masonic District of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba. I am a member of Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Valley of Winnipeg and Khartum Temple of the Shrine, where I am a member of the Ritualistic Unit and have served as President; and was a Director of the Manitoba Chapter of the Canadian Condominium Institute and Nostalgia Broadcasting Cooperative Inc. I am President of my condominium corporation; and a member of the organizing committee of the Hebrew Congregation of Winnipeg Beach.
In 2008, I spent several weeks on an assignment with the Canadian Executive Service Overseas helping a law firm in Armenia to establish management systems. I am still in touch with the firm and went back, to visit, in 2011 with Gloria.
We have travelled extensively — as a young family, as a couple, for my work, and with our friends. We've been camping, sailing, cross-country and downhill skiing; and taken family trips to Vancouver, the Maritimes, Florida, California, the Rockies, and Barbados. We have traveled and "cruised" to many interesting destinations in Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. We've visited Israel three times: in 1996 on the Canadian "Jerusalem 3000" tour; in 1999, to visit our son, David and his family; and in 2011, spending time with friends and relatives celebrating Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
We're pleased to participate in the Endowment Book of Life. We believe in the importance of supporting the Jewish Foundation and, through it, our community.