Series 1 - Family Files

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Family Files

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17 cm
26 photographs : b&w and col. ; 26 x 21 cm or smaller

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Biographical history

Charles E. Greb was a businessman and philanthropist living near Ayr, Ontario. Born in Kitchener, Greb was the youngest child of Erwin C. (1894-1954) and Clara Greb. His father and grandfather, Charles E. Greb Sr., acquired the Berlin Shoe Manufacturing Company in 1912, and in 1916 the company received a new charter and was renamed the Greb Shoe Company Limited. By the time it was sold in 1974, Greb Industries Limited had become the largest shoe manufacturer in Canada. Charles Greb began his career with the family company in 1948 as a factory worker, and went on to manage plants in Kitchener and Winnipeg. He became director of sales in 1962, and then from 1969 to 1976 he served as executive vice-president. Greb later became the CEO of Musitron Communications, which became part of Grebco Holdings Ltd., a personal investment firm. He was also director and chairman of Skyjack Inc. of Guelph, director and chairman of Virtek Vision International Inc. of Waterloo, and managing partner of Woodside Fund, a California venture capital partnership.
Greb was involved in several community organizations and initiatives, including: the National Council of YMCAs of Canada, the YMCA of Kitchener-Waterloo, the Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital Foundation, the Kitchener Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Summer Games, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, Junior Achievement of Waterloo Region, Junior Achievement of Canada, and CAA Ontario. He was a member of the Board of Governors of St. Paul's College (University of Waterloo) and the Board of Regents of Luther College (University of Regina), and chairman of the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Board of Management and of the Kitchener Economic Development Board. He also received many awards, including the Kitchener Citizen of the Year (1978), a Province of Ontario Bicentennial Medal, an Ontario Volunteer Service gold award, a Canada 125th Anniversary medal for contributions to Canada, a Companion of the Fellowship of Honour YMCA Canada, the Lou Buckley Award - Kitchener-Waterloo YMCA, and the Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International.
Charles Greb’s brothers were also involved in Greb Industries Limited. Harry D. Greb (1916-1998) joined the company as a book-keeper in 1932. Upon the death of his father in 1954, he became company president and held that position until he retired in 1974. Harry Greb was president of the Shoe Manufacturers Association of Canada, the Shoe Information Bureau, and the Shoe and Leather Council of Canada. He was also a director of the Equitable Life Insurance Company and chairman of the board of Waterloo Lutheran University (now Wilfrid Laurier University), as well as a member of several organizations, including: Waterloo County Shrine Club, Kitchener Rotary Club, and Grand River and Scottish Rite Masonic Lodges. In 1971, he was honoured with an LLD degree. Harry was also an avid sailor.
Arthur C. Greb (1917-1982) joined the family company in 1935 and managed the company’s entrance into the retail business with a chain of stores called “Yellow Label” based in Vancouver. This venture was short-lived and Arthur returned to Kitchener to manage the purchasing department at the Greb Shoe Company. He retired in 1974.
Clara May Greb (1921-2006), sister to Harry, Arthur, and Charles, was a philanthropist and involved in the Kitchener-Waterloo YMCA, Junior Achievement of Waterloo Region, and the endowment foundations of both of these organizations.
Charles E. Greb, Sr. (1859-1934) was a politician and businessman in Berlin/Kitchener. Born in Zurich, Ontario, he was a carpenter by trade and operated a hardware store and hotel in Zurich before moving to Berlin in 1909 with his wife Caroline and son Erwin. He was involved with the Berlin Shoe Manufacturing Company from its incorporation in 1910 as Secretary-Treasurer. When Erwin purchased the controlling interest in the Greb Shoe Company from his father in 1918, Charles remained involved with the business in an advisory capacity, and devoted more time to politics. He served as an alderman in Kitchener from 1917 to 1921, 1924 to 1927, and 1929 to 1931; and as Mayor for two terms, from 1921 to 1922.
(Source: content of the fonds; Briggs, T. and Greb, C.E., The Greb Story, Kitchener: Grebco Holdings Ltd., 2008; and Waterloo County Hall of Fame biographies:

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Scope and content

Series consists of records documenting aspects of the lives, careers, and interests of Charles E. Greb, Harry Greb, Clara May Greb, Erwin C. Greb, and Charles E. Greb Sr.; and the lives and disappearance of basset hounds Velvet and Jasmine. Includes press clippings; correspondence; birth, marriage, and death certificates; wills; photographs; certificates and awards; ephemera; and other material. Material probably collected and compiled by Charles E. Greb.

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