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Toronto restaurateur Peter Oliver dead at 74 after battle with cancer

TORONTO — Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality says Canadian restaurateur Peter Oliver has died at 74, after a battle with cancer.

The co-founder of the company behind luxurious Toronto restaurants Canoe, Auberge du Pommier, Luma and Biff's Bistro was diagnosed with stage four cancer in May 2021.

He entered the spotlight in 1993, when he partnered with chef Michael Bonacini to create a restaurant empire that runs 29 properties serving 30,000 guests a week and putting on more than 10,000 events annually.

Under Oliver's leadership, the company pioneered training, benefit packages, educational funding, travel opportunities and career development for restaurant workers who are often not given such benefits.

Oliver got his start in the restaurant business in 1978, when he opened a small sandwich shop at Yonge and Eglinton streets named Oliver’s Old Fashioned Bakery.

He is survived by his wife of 48 years Maureen, four children and grandchildren.

An obituary from Oliver & Bonacini said he loved teaching about nature's interconnectedness at their family cottage on Lake Baptiste.

"He spent countless hours digging holes, moving rocks and planting hostas, displaying stamina that would put people half his age to shame," the obituary said.

"Occasionally he would pull himself away from his latest project to take a swim, practice yoga or sip a gin and tonic—always with fresh mint—before declaring, 'This is living.'"

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.

The Canadian Press