John William Billes
Born in 1897 in Toronto, Ontario, in 1922 John William Billes his brother Alfred bought Hamilton Tire and Garage Ltd. at the south-east corner of Hamilton and Gerrard streets in east Toronto. The following year they moved the garage to downtown Toronto where they began the conversion to a garage/retail business. In 1927 they incorporated under the name Canadian Tire Corporation Ltd. with William Billes as its President. In 1934, Canadian Tire opened its first official associate store in Hamilton, Ontario and over the next twenty years the Billes brothers expanded into a full line of automotive products and then added home and garden supplies. William Billes oversaw the most successful Canadian owned and operated franchise in the country’s history, that would expand into a nationwide network of dealer operated associate stores. He died unexpectedly in November 1956, at the age of 60, as a result of complications from pernicious anemia. He bequeathed his shares in Canadian Tire to twenty-three different charitable organizations.