W. Galen Weston O.C., C.V.O., OOnt., B.A., LL.D, DDIV
Galen passed away peacefully at home on April 12, 2021, at the age of 80, after a long illness faced with courage and dignity.
Beloved husband to The Hon. Hilary Weston; dearest father to Galen G. (Alexandra) and Alannah (Alexander Cochrane); devoted grandfather to Maia, Lola, Graydon, and Griffin. Survived by his siblings, Grainger, Nancy Baron, Wendy Rebanks (Leslie), Gretchen Bauta (Humberto), Camilla Dalglish (Peter), their families and his stepmother Margaret. Predeceased by his parents Garfield and Reta Weston, his brother Garry Weston, and his sisters Miriam Burnett and Barbara Mitchell.
Born at Marlow, Buckinghamshire, UK, on October 29, 1940, the youngest of nine children, Galen studied business administration at Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario. In 1961 he launched his career by acquiring and expanding supermarkets and department stores in Ireland. In 1972 he returned to Canada to take charge of Loblaw, a struggling chain of grocery stores that George Weston Limited had controlled since 1947. Over more than four decades of hard work and team effort, Galen led the transformation of Loblaw from near-bankruptcy to what is now Canada’s leading retailer, including the creation of President’s Choice, the launch of PC Financial, and the acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart.
Concurrently, Galen brought his vision, imagination, and energy to creating Selfridges Group, a collection of iconic department stores, through the acquisition of Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Ireland, Holt Renfrew and Ogilvy in Canada, Selfridges in the UK, and de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.
He had a keen eye for real estate, creating Canada’s leading real estate investment trust, Choice Properties, as well as transforming the Oxford Street neighbourhood surrounding Selfridges’s London store.
Galen’s success in business was rooted in his values as a person. With a sense of duty to build upon the legacy of his father and grandfather as entrepreneurs and community leaders, he believed strongly that business was about more than the bottom line. The pleasure he took from getting to know individuals from all walks of life reflected his conviction that people are the foundation of any successful enterprise. And, with infectious optimism and insatiable curiosity, his greatest gift was his ability to inspire others to achieve more than they thought possible.
Amid his endless enthusiasm for business, Galen always made time for his other passions. Among them, a lifelong commitment to philanthropy through the Weston Family Foundation, and the time spent with family and good friends who were so central to his life.
He will be sorely missed by Hilary. Through 55 years of a deeply loving marriage, they worked as a team in the expansion of the luxury department stores and the development of Windsor, an acclaimed residential community in Florida. They were especially proud of her five years of public service as Ontario’s 26th lieutenant governor. But nothing gave them more gratification than their two children, both of whom have risen so commendably to the challenges Galen passed on to them after his retirement in 2016.
The family would like to extend their thanks to Pavi Binning, to Dr. Zubina Mawji, Dr. Sandra Black and Dr. Dermot O’Flynn, to nurses Patriz Lopez and Louise Gregoire, to caregiver Sultanah Khan and to Marianne Surmann. They also wish to recognize the many other dedicated individuals who supported Galen at home.
A celebration of Galen’s life will be held in Toronto at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Foundation, or a charity of your choice.