TORONTO — Anne Mirvish, artist and wife of the late “Honest” Ed Mirvish, has died in Toronto at the age of 94.
She was born Anne Macklin in Hamilton, Ont., in 1919. As a child she took piano lessons, was a good singer and loved to draw. After high school she worked in an office.
She married Mirvish in 1941 and helped him establish a small women’s sportswear store at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor with money attained by cashing her life insurance policy. At one point the store was called Anne & Eddie’s. In 1948 the store expanded over a few adjacent storefronts and became known as Honest Ed’s, now a famous bargain emporium. (Ed Mirvish died in 2007.)
Anne studied art periodically in Toronto, attended the Banff School of Fine Art in the 1950s, and studied with American abstract expressionist Paul Burlin in New York in 1962. She specialized in sculpture and for her art career took the name Anne Lazare, using her mother’s maiden name.
She worked in cast bronze, pewter, silver, wood, marble and other materials. Her sculptures were in the collections of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington and the National Archives of Canada. Over the last decade she had several exhibitions in the John B. Aird Gallery, Canadian Sculpture Centre and other venues.
A devotee of theatre and opera, she was instrumental in persuading her husband to purchase the dilapidated Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto in 1964, thus launching his long career as a theatre impresario. She also persuaded him to buy up an entire city block of houses on Markham street and convert them into an artists’ colony. “I’m the storekeeper,” Ed once explained. “Anne is the inspiration.”
Her influence is equally visible in her son, David Mirvish, the well-known art collector and theatre impresario who took over and expanded upon his father’s interests in the live theatre business.
Anne was president of a Hadassah chapter and was involved with the National Council of Jewish Women, Mount Sinai Hospital, Baycrest Women’s Auxiliary, Boys Town Jerusalem, Canadian Mental Health Association and other organizations. She was a patron of the Canadian Opera Company and a life member of the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum.