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Call Number: Mss 153, Pc 160, El 2 (A.02-41)

Title: Albert D. Cohen fonds.

Dates: 1982-2002.

Extent: 0.38 m of textual records and other material.

Biographical sketch: Born in 1914 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Albert Diamond Cohen was the third of six sons of Alexander and Bereka (Diamond) Cohen. As a boy, Cohen sold newspapers and worked as a delivery boy. At the age of fifteen he became a shoe salesman, quitting school after completing grade nine in order to contribute to the family finances, which had been strained by the Great Depression. Cohen then went into business with his father, selling chocolate bars and pens throughout Manitoba and in Northwestern Ontario. In 1934 the Cohen family moved to Calgary where, led by Cohen, they eventually established General Distributors Company, the forerunner of Gendis, Inc. In 1947, SAAN Stores Ltd. was established in Winnipeg, and the chain eventually grew to include over 200 stores across Canada. Cohen is currently the Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Gendis Inc. Albert D. Cohen was the first recipient of the Distinguished Entrepreneur Award, which was established in 1983 by the University of Manitoba, its Faculty of Management, and the Associates of the Faculty of Management (an organization of senior business leaders dedicated to establishing the University of Manitoba as one of the top business schools in Canada). The award recognized Cohen for his success as the co-founder of Gendis Inc. Cohen was responsible for expanding the scope of the award into the international business realm. From 1985-2000, Cohen served as the chair of the nominating committee, responsible for soliciting nominations for the award, and making arrangements for the annual awards dinner. The International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award (IDEA) is presented annually at a formal dinner in Winnipeg, where the recipient receives a five ounce gold medallion produced by the Royal Canadian Mint.

Custodial history: The fonds was donated to University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections in 2002 by Albert Cohen.

Scope and content: The Albert D. Cohen fonds consists of 4 series: International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award 1983-2002, Books 1985, 2002, Photograph Collection (PC 160) 1987-2000, and Electronic Records (EL 2), 1985-1990. The first series consists of records relating to the University of Manitoba's Distinguished Entrepreneur Award (IDEA). This includes materials relating to the coordination of the award and the annual IDEA dinner. The Books series contains two books written by Cohen. The Photograph Collection comprises 118 photographs and 29 video-cassettes pertaining to the IDEA dinner. 6 of the 29 IDEA dinner videos were digitized and placed in EL 2.

Restrictions: This collection is open to all, with the exception of Box 3, Folder 9, which is restricted. Use is governed by relevant copyright legislation. Reproduction of materials from this fonds requires permission from University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections.

Accruals: Further accruals to this fonds are expected.

Finding aid: A printed finding aid is available in the Archives reading room and an electronic finding aid is available at the link below:

MSS 153, PC 160, EL 2 (A.02-41).