In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, The CJN presents 40 profiles of some of the most prominent Jewish Canadians throughout our history.
Despite his enormous professional success and influence on many Canadian institutions, it’s the simpler things that friends remember about Edwin Goodman.
“He was incredibly warm and friendly, with a great sense of humour,” says Herb Solway, a longtime friend and a retired partner in his law firm, Goodmans LLP. “The best thing about him at the law firm, of all the good things about him, was he insisted every lawyer treat their staff, the secretaries and law clerks, the best way possible. Everyone called him by his first name. And they loved him.”
Goodman was born in 1918 to David and Dorothy Goodman. In World War II, his tank was blown up by German artillery during the invasion of France. Wounded, he carried an injured soldier several miles to safety, while under constant fire. His bravery earned him a mention in dispatches to Allied headquarters in London. After the war, he joined his father, David, at the law firm, then called Goodman & Goodman. In the decades that followed, the firm represented a number of prestigious clients, including Cadillac Fairview and Labatt.
A member of the Order of Canada, Goodman’s impact is widespread, including raising millions of dollars for the National Ballet of Canada, Boy Scouts and Princess Margaret Hospital.
After the Toronto Telegram newspaper went out of business in 1971, Goodman was the first outside investor to contribute to efforts to start the Toronto Sun, and then helped raise the rest of the money.
In the 1970s, he chaired the board of the struggling Royal Ontario Museum and helped ensure its continued existence. He also helped bring a Major League Baseball franchise to Toronto. Through contacts made while doing legal work for the Montreal Expos and Major League Baseball, Goodman and Solway helped Labatt build the Toronto Blue Jays.
Goodman also served as president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada for many years and chaired several of the party’s conventions. Former prime minister Brian Mulroney named him to the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which oversees the RCMP and CSIS.
While Bill Davis was premier of Ontario, he and Goodman met for breakfast with a few other politicians and businesspeople every couple of weeks to discuss strategy.
“He was a very good friend,” said Davis. “He was helpful to me during my time in public life. He was one of those very real human beings that you regard with affection. This may sound like I am going overboard, but you develop a large number of friends in the life I’ve led. But you have some very special ones and he was one.”
Goodman hired Solway out of law school in 1955 and they worked together until Goodman’s death in 2006.
“We could tell story after story about him. I’ve never met anyone quite like him. You just admired him so much,” Solway said. “The minute you met him, you knew him. He was just so warm. He was a wonderful guy.”
After Goodman’s first marriage, he married Suzanne Gross in 1953, although she passed away in 1992. His daughter Joanne died in a car accident on her way back to university. Goodman suffered from Alzheimer’s disease later in life and died following a heart attack in 2006. He was survived by his wife Joan, his daughter Diane and two grandchildren.