Lives Lived: Mark Benjamin Goldblatt

Co-op movement leader, mentor, optimist. Born on April 5, 1952, in Ottawa; died on Feb. 3, 2015, in Ottawa, of a heart attack, aged 62.

Mark Goldblatt was born into a Jewish family, the middle child between sisters Lynn and Ann. Their mother, Sylvia, was a social worker; their father, Murray, was a senior editor for The Globe and Mail and the family moved between Ottawa and Toronto as his job required.

After high school, Mark (sporting a long ponytail at the time) hitchhiked across Europe for a year, riding from Paris to Marseille on a one-speed bike. In 1971, during his first year in arts at the University of Toronto, his commitment to social justice led him to participate in a sit-in to open Robarts Library to undergrad students (a move that landed in him in jail for a night). He also worked with local residents to save the downtown Union Station from demolition.

He left university during his second year to join a project working with inner-city youth. His involvement with disadvantaged communities led to a 40-year career as a leader and champion of the co-operative movement. Today, almost every co-op sector in Canada bears his stamp.

He discovered co-op housing in 1973 at a public meeting in a Toronto library; captivated by its ability to bring together people of varied backgrounds and incomes to own and control their housing, he co-founded the Co-operative Federation of Toronto at the age of 21. Over the next decade, he helped to launch 23 housing co-ops with more than 2,000 units.

Read the full obituary at The Globe and Mail


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