Morley Cohen

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Morley Mitchell Cohen, CM PhD CQ, born in Winnipeg, Manitoba (1917-2001), was a Canadian entrepreneur, community builder, philanthropist, and Member of the Order of Canada. He served with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1940-1945. He was married to the late Rita Lillian Cohen (née Stober), and is survived by their two daughters: Joanne (Mrs. Barry Goldmeir) and Donna Susan.


Morley Cohen came from a poor immigrant family of eight, the son of Alexander and Rose (Diamond) Cohen.

Morley's five brothers, John, Albert D. Cohen, Harry B. Cohen, Samuel N. Cohen, and Joseph H. Cohen, set up a small retail store and, by 1939, the family had scraped together enough monies to create General Distributors Ltd., a wholesale import firm.

Sony and the Cohen Brothers[edit]

Cohen Brothers of Canada

By 1950, General Distributors sales amounted to $1 million. In the early Fifties, the company obtained exclusive Canadian rights for Paper Mate pens. Then, in 1955, brother Albert D. Cohen accomplished the most amazing feat of landing the Canadian distribution rights to Sony products. Spotting an ad in a Japanese newspaper seeking a distributor for a new portable transistor radio, Albert met with Sony co-founder, Akio Morita. On the basis of a handshake deal, Albert cemented a partnership that would last for decades. The Cohen brothers scattered across Canada in order to manage the national business, each brother establishing himself in a major city: Morley (Montreal), John (Toronto), Joe (Vancouver), Harry (Calgary), and both Sam and Albert setting up headquarters (Winnipeg).

SAAN, Metropolitan, real estate, and the Cohen Brothers[edit]

The six brothers expanded into real estate and retailing. Over the years, they established several hundred SAAN Stores and Metropolitan Stores in all provinces of Canada. The explosive growth of the SAAN Stores chain was guided by Samuel N. Cohen while Metropolitan's expansion was overseen by Morley Cohen. At one point, it is said the Cohen brothers owned downtown real estate in almost every major Canadian city. By 1983, the company was a diversified Canadian conglomerate, renamed Gendis.

Oil & Gas, and the Cohen Brothers[edit]

Under the guidance of Albert D. Cohen, the six brothers participated in various joint ventures and/or owned several minority interests in oil & gas exploration, development, and distribution. The companies included Tripet Resources; Chauvco Resources; Pioneer Natural Resources; Fort Chicago Energy Partners L.P.; and Tundra Oil & Gas.


Morley Cohen was considered to be one of the major community builders/philanthropists in Montreal.

Several of his notable accomplishments include:

Morley and Rita Cohen Foundation[edit]

Founded in 1990, the Morley and Rita Cohen Foundation was created for support and services within the charitable sector, hospitals, and universities/colleges.[1]