Entrepreneur David Gilmour made a fortune out of inns, bottled h2o, stereos and gold mines

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Entrepreneur David Gilmour made numerous businesses above his career and turned the tragic murder of his daughter, Erin, into a determination to instructional charities, funding numerous preschools for at-threat children.Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Entrepreneur David Gilmour, co-founder of world wide miner Barrick Gold Corp., a true-estate and vacation resort empire, an legendary bottled water model and the company of Frank Sinatra’s stereo, died this thirty day period at the age of 91.

Immediately after conference as students at a downtown diner in 1952, Mr. Gilmour struck up a partnership with fellow College of Toronto graduate Peter Munk that gave birth to an array of organizations, and friendships with the loaded and renowned. He turned a wrenching private tragedy – the murder of his daughter, Erin, at age 22 – into a motivation to instructional charities, funding several preschools for at-threat young children.

David Harrison Gilmour was born in Winnipeg on Nov. 5, 1931, and moved to Toronto with his family members when he was three several years previous. His father, Adam, a Initially Globe War military officer, joined expenditure dealer Nesbitt Thomson (now portion of Bank of Montreal). His mom, Doris Godson Gilmour, was an acclaimed opera singer who executed in London and across Canada.

An higher-class upbringing sparked Mr. Gilmour’s daily life-lengthy love of journey. When he graduated from Trinity College or university College in Port Hope, Ont., at age 17, his father offered to fund both a fledgling small business or a excursion to Europe. Mr. Gilmour opted for his possess version of a grand tour across Spain and France in a Volkswagen convertible. His father’s a person situation for backing the vacation: His son must travel alone.

Mr. Gilmour mentioned the solitary journey supplied an instruction in consumer conduct that formed his profession. “I could observe what cars and trucks people drove, how they dressed and behaved,” Mr. Gilmour explained to Forbes magazine. “Suddenly you just capture the temper of what people may well want that they don’t nevertheless know they want.”

Following a number of months in Europe, Mr. Gilmour ran out of income and fired a telegram to his father saying “Four tires worn out – quite risky to drive. Be sure to ship $300.” His father replied: “Park automobile beside highway and abandon. Return dwelling promptly.”

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The founders of Clairtone, David Gilmour, (still left) Govt Chairman of Zinio and Peter Munk, Founder & Chairman of Barrick Gold Company, snicker as they chat jointly in Munk’s business at Barrick Gold in Toronto, on May well 8, 2008.Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

Mr. Gilmour did come back, subsequent his father into the post-Second Globe War military as an officer in the tank division of the Governor-General’s Horse Guards, an practical experience he afterwards credited for producing his leadership competencies. He then analyzed administration at the College of Toronto and forged a friendship with Mr. Munk, an engineering scholar, immediately after they fulfilled at Diana Sweets, a restaurant around the campus.

On graduating, Mr. Gilmour turned down an chance to join his father in the expenditure company, as a substitute going to Montreal, the place he marketed pots and pans doorway-to-doorway. Following a moderately productive 12 months, a single of his 3 older sisters, Shelagh Vansittart, lured her hassle again to Toronto by featuring up her social circle, which include Mr. Munk, and the option to co-located a Scandinavian furnishings importer, which the siblings referred to as Dansk Structure.

In 1957, Mr. Munk released a enterprise building substantial-close stereos. He achieved out to Mr. Gilmour for smooth wooden cabinets to keep the hello-fi factors. The pair made the decision to start a firm, Clairtone, that marketed sets for $700, or around $7,000 in today’s dollars.

“One of the key elements to our relationship is the extraordinary diploma to which the two of us can enter a area with diametrically opposed views and not depart that room until eventually we’re the two looking in the exact route,” Mr. Gilmour advised writer Donald Rumball for a biography of Mr. Munk. Mr. Rumball reported the two entrepreneurs experienced complementary competencies: “David can odor a product or service and Peter can make it commercially feasible.”

Clairtone income soared in the early 1960s, as the pair employed promoting guru Dalton Camp to run a marketing campaign that highlighted Mr. Sinatra lounging next to a stereo, cigarette concerning his fingers, with the tag line: “Listen to Sinatra on Clairtone stereo. Sinatra does.”

To expand into developing televisions and fork out for a new manufacturing unit, Mr. Gilmour and Mr. Munk secured funding from the Nova Scotia authorities. Political backing proved a poisoned chalice. Clairtone’s losses mounted as it competed versus far larger purchaser electronics firms. In 1967, provincial mandarins pushed the two founders out of the organization.

Unemployed, Mr. Gilmour and Mr. Munk turned their focus to a Fiji resort they experienced purchased on a whim in 1963, when they have been flush with Clairtone funds. Neither experienced at any time been to the South Pacific country or noticed the residence they obtained for $250,000. The initial time Mr. Gilmour frequented, he stepped out of a car or truck and located himself up to his ankles in mud. Only then did the Canadian recognize there was a wet aspect on Fiji’s principal island, and that was the place he owned a vacation resort.

Constructed to house the crew filming a Burt Lancaster movie, Fiji’s Beachcomber Lodge was the initial property in what grew to become a significant chain, the Southern Pacific Lodge Corp. As aspect of the company’s enlargement, Mr. Gilmour put in years operating on an Egyptian resort at the foundation of the pyramids, backed by Saudi financier Adnan Khashoggi. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat eventually cancelled the undertaking.

In 1980, Mr. Munk and Mr. Gilmour sold the lodge chain, which by then involved 54 properties, and pocketed somewhere around US$130-million. They commenced investing in Canada, launching TrizecHahn, which grew to be one particular of North America’s premier actual-estate providers, and Barrick Gold, a person of the world’s greatest miners. Mr. Munk died in 2018 at age 90.

In 1983, Mr. Gilmour’s only little one, Erin, was stabbed to demise in her Yorkville apartment. In describing his grief, Mr. Gilmour wrote that immediately after this awful party, there was a period when he was indifferent to whether or not he lived or died. It would get pretty much four many years for Toronto law enforcement to resolve the murder, utilizing genetic genealogy. Final November, they arrested a 61-12 months-previous guy from Moosonee, Ont., and billed him with the murders of Erin and a further girl.

“David seemed at Erin’s photo each individual one day, recalling a really special marriage where each and every put the other on a pedestal,” mentioned Jillian Gilmour, his spouse of almost 42 yrs. She and her spouse were being getting lunch at a golf club in Florida very last slide when a detective phoned to share information of the arrest. Ms. Gilmour said immediately after several years of remaining upset by sales opportunities that did not pan out, the contact subsequently “did give him a feeling of closure.”

After promoting his hotel enterprise, Mr. Gilmour bought an island in Fiji, where he and his wife opened a vacation resort in 1990, The Wakaya Club & Spa. Above the a long time, company have provided Nicole Kidman, Monthly bill Gates, Tom Cruise, Rupert Murdoch and Steve Careers.

The tropical resort motivated two late-life commence ups. In 1996, Mr. Gilmour released Fiji Drinking water, a brand distinguished by its sq. bottles (in four sizes). The bottled drinking water developed a adhering to in component thanks to item placements on tv displays these as Ally McBeal and The Sopranos. Mr. Gilmour bought Fiji Water in 2004. Ms. Gilmour stated: “David liked generating firms he did not generally like working them.”

In 2011, Mr. Gilmour and entrepreneur David Roth established Wakaya Perfection, a line of organic products and solutions – such as ginger, turmeric and kava – grown organically in virgin volcanic soil in Fiji, Tonga and Nicaragua.

To honour his daughter, Mr. Gilmour created preschools in Fiji and throughout the United States, including a undertaking in Las Vegas with tennis star Andre Agassi as a companion, and a facility in Florida that is named for Erin Gilmour. In 2004, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell introduced Mr. Gilmour with the Award for Company Excellence. He was also an officer of the Buy of Fiji.

Mr. Gilmour died of a coronary heart attack on June 11. In addition to his wife, Ms. Gilmour, he leaves his nieces, Shelia Stene, Kristin Basso, Dianna Sutton and Vanessa and Katharine Vansittart. His previous spouse, Anna McCowan-Johnson, Erin’s mother, died in 2020. Mr. Gilmour was also predeceased by his sisters.