By Nancy Dorrance
with photography by Bernard Clark
When 28-year-old Jack Colden walked into the office of Canadian Tire Corporation president Alfred Jackson Billes one cold winter morning in 1958, it’s possible the legendary “A.J.” saw a younger version of himself. Both had grown up poor, but with an unflagging work ethic, an entrepreneurial passion and a keen marketing sense for Canada’s burgeoning automotive sector.
As a prospective franchisee, Jack was peppered with questions from Canadian Tire board members for the next two hours, while the company head sat back silently and observed. When his regional director finally asked A.J. for an assessment of the novice dealer’s application, he said succinctly, “As far as I’m concerned, he can have it.” And with those words, Jack received the Canadian Tire franchise for Picton.
More than six decades later, relaxing in the sun-drenched den of his high-rise condominium overlooking Kingston Harbour, the white-haired but still handsome 93-year-old grins widely as he savours the memory of his successful bid. “That was the greatest moment of my life,” he declares. . . .