Carl Cole

(BCom 1936 UC)

The late Carl Cole was a businessman, publisher, philanthropist, and founder of Coles Bookstore. He grew up in poverty on a farm outside Barrie, Ontario, and spent time in an orphanage in Detroit, Michigan, coming to Toronto as a teenager and graduating with from UC with a commerce degree in 1936. In the thick of the Great Depression, he operated a book-selling pushcart around the U of T campus to help pay tuition. He opened the first store under the "Coles" name in 1940 with his brother Jack, and by the late 1970s, they operated the largest book retail chain in the country. He also launched the Coles Notes series of study guides. The company eventually came to be owned by Indigo Books & Music, and he thereafter focused on philanthropy, supporting the United Jewish Appeal and the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation, among other organizations.