David Ru­bi­noff


The Jewish Chronicle - - Obituaries -

BY BUILD­ING a chain of nearly 70 Hol­i­day Inns around the world, in­clud­ing some half-dozen in Eng­land, David Ru­bi­noff be­came one of Canada’s ma­jor hote­liers and helped usher in the 1960s era of mass travel, writes Bill Glad­stone.

A long-time res­i­dent of the farm belt around Lon­don, On­tario, Ru­bi­noff had been im­pressed with the Hol­i­day Inns he had seen in the USA.

Af­ter ear­lier suc­cesses as a gar­ment mer­chant and land de­vel­oper, he erected a chain of 50 ho­tels across Canada in the 1960s and 1970s.

His com­pany, Com­mon­wealth Hol­i­day Inns, also built ho­tels in Lon­don, at Mar­ble Arch and Swiss Cot­tage, as well as in Bris­tol, Ply­mouth and Slough, near Wind­sor.

Oth­ers went up in France, Por­tu­gal, on six Caribbean is­lands and in two US states. Un­der Ru­bi­noff’s guid­ance, the firm be­came a pub­licly-traded com­pany with 10,000 em­ploy­ees and nearly 15,000 ho­tel rooms. He sold his in­ter­est in 1979 but kept busy manag­ing nu­mer­ous in­vest­ment prop­er­ties.

David Ru­bi­noff was born in 1913 in Re­chitsa, a vil­lage in what is now Be­larus. The ex­act date, un­der the prerevo­lu­tion­ary Rus­sian cal­en­dar, is not recorded.

His fa­ther left for Canada be­fore his birth and, due to the First World War and other fac­tors, did not send for the fam­ily for an­other decade.

David lived through war, revo­lu­tion, famine, pogroms and ex­treme poverty. One of his bright­est child­hood mem­o­ries was see­ing the first elec­tric lightbulb in Re­chitsa be­ing lit in an aunt’s home.

He ar­rived in Toronto with his mother and sis­ter in 1923, as a boy of 10, and met his fa­ther for the first time. The fam­ily moved for a while to the US, to Detroit, where David de­liv­ered flow­ers and sold news­pa­pers for three cents apiece. In the early De­pres­sion, he worked in a su­per­mar­ket and used card­board to fill the holes in his shoes.

Af­ter his mar­riage to Rachel Rosen­berg in 1936, he started a dress man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness on Toronto’s Spad­ina Av­enue, but it went bank­rupt.

Bor­row­ing $500 from a rel­a­tive, he re­lo­cated to Lon­don, On­tario, in 1939 and opened a ladies’ wear store, the first of sev­eral suc­cess­ful dress shops he went on to op­er­ate.

He al­ways claimed that he be­came a land de­vel­oper by ac­ci­dent. Want­ing to raise his fam­ily in a ru­ral set­ting, he paid $300 down to pur­chase a 50-acre farm, ac­quir­ing ad­ja­cent lands as they be­came avail­able.

He be­gan build­ing small plazas and apart­ment blocks, which turned into a new sub­urb as the city crept to­wards his prop­erty af­ter the Sec­ond World War. He re­mained a ma­jor sup­porter of the lo­cal Jewish com­mu­nity, even af­ter mov­ing back to Toronto in 1985.

Known for his pos­i­tive as­sess­ment of peo­ple, he had a high rep­u­ta­tion in the busi­ness world. His word or hand­shake on a deal was like an iron-clad guar­an­tee, ac­cord­ing to many.

“I’d sooner have David’s word on a mat­ter than some other men’s sig­na­tures,” a Lon­don, On­tario, al­der­man once said.

He is sur­vived by his wife of 72 years, Rae; four chil­dren, Robert, Penny, Jef­frey and Philip; five grand­chil­dren and a great-grand­child.

David Ru­bi­noff: from stetl to ho­tel

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