What Canada Would Be Without Mr. Goudas? by Jamaica Xpress
Jamaican Xpress Newspaper by Blackwood Maxweel
Never in the history of any newspaper related to the Black community has there been an emphasis on the achievements of a non-black or African American
Let us examine the article and find the deep reasons why he deserves this honour
Jamaican Xpress Newspaper, February the Black History Month.
We have incorporated several articles related to Black History Month
(this is usually celebrated in the month of February).
The majority of these have featured the accomplishments of Black and African individuals in general.
Today, we are breaking the rule by inserting an article with the above title about a man, Spyros Peter Goudas, and his impact on our history.
Are you an immigrant like us?
I am referring to my newspaper staff as well as those who are involved with, know the man personally, or have heard about him.
This article has been written in such a format that it would appear on the www.goudasfoods.com website with numerous links allowing you to verify and cross-reference information for your viewing pleasure.
As editor of the Jamaican Xpress Newspaper I had, and continue to have the pleasure of being associated with Spyros Peter Goudas, the owner and founder of the line of products under the Goudas Foods labels.
I have to admit that Peter Spyros Goudas is an astute businessman and over the years the business relationship has evolved into a sincere friendship.
To those who are reading my journal for the first time, based on the name, you will realize that I am also an immigrant to this vast, multicultural nation called Canada and as a consequence have faced many trials.
However, the strains of Bob Marley’s music constantly penetrate my mind…
"Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is going to be alright...Woke up this morning, smiled at the rising sun…"
My culture, upbringing and beliefs are solidified within my being.
During my trips to the supermarket back in the days (1970’s, 80’s and 90’s ), there was an emergence of products that brought back visions of my native land of Jamaica.
What would a home-cooked meal for a Jamaican be
And yes, that Rice that always cooks perfect, perfect, perfect!
There have been times at the dinner table when I actually forgot the cold, chill and snow and settled into some heavy Yard food!
Thank you, Mr. Goudas! Through reading your biography, I came to realize that you, were instrumental in prompting changes in laws and legislation, not only in the food industry and Canadaian Customs, but also in the music industry via The Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) which helped enact changes that till today enables me (and every other nationality) to enjoy our cultural roots here in Canada.
I sincerely thank you on behalf of all immigrants in Canada.
At a recent gathering in our editorial office, we tried to discuss in-depth the positive impact of you in our lives.
We then thought that it would be an unfair article to look at the situation from a Caribbean and black perspective only.
Since we live in this multicultural society of Canada, we all have friends from different nationalities and we all affect or impact each other whether we like it or not.
Each nationality has its own ethnic newspaper, television stations and radio programs and we all listen to the music of our homelands.
Let us stop for a moment and analyze the above statement.
We would like you to take a moment, sit back and think what Canada would be if we did not have the option to listen to our own music.
How someone with an Indian background would feel not being able to listen to Indian music? What would an Arabian do without his rhythms?
Of course, because we are from the Caribbean and we know our music, what would we do if we never had Caribbean Radio Programs playing hits from Bob Marley,
Byron Lee and the Dragonaires,
Buju Banton or other artists that we are so familiar.
I told you to stop for a moment and think and I would like to relay to you a story that not too many people know.
This story takes you back to the late 1960’s when an immigrant named Spyros Peter Goudas from Kalamaki, Athens, Greece, arrived in this country, ended up at Union Station with no money, no English, no friends, no home, no food, sleeping on the benches outside of City Hall, Toronto, Ontario.
At the time, there was not a vast amount of immigration from different countries as it is today.
We are not going to go into the details of his misfortune during that period.
It is a subject you may read about in his biography titled, The Immigrant.
Mr. Goudas’ biography takes you on a special journey; one that is as interesting, dramatic, eventful and pact full of wisdom as any major work of literature.
From the time young Spyros begins his work at a clay factory to the time Goudas Foods becomes an international symbol for quality, Mr. Goudas delivers great inspiration for hard work, determination, building standards for excellence and ongoing contribution to all people.
Upon reading the full biography, I felt as if I had entered Mr. Goudas’ world. I re-examined his picture on the book cover. His facial expressions matched the stories in his life.
There was intensity where life has been intense, and grace where dreams have been fulfilled. To you, Mr. Goudas, I dedicate this portrait to express my gratitude for sharing your biography with all readers and myself. With great appreciation, Amani Saif
However, after a series of events Spyros Peter Goudas was able to purchase a small grocery store on Baldwin Street in Kensington Market, in the College and Spadina area, referred to as the Jewish Market.
The older folks would know about this area, which was the centre of the world at the time.
To verify this, ask your mom, your grandfather, your grandmother or your aunties who migrated to Canada during this period.
We are very sure that St. Clair, Victoria Park and Islington Avenues were the borders of Toronto and any further was farmland.
Now, here we have a store owner trying to deal with the different nationalities entering his store.
Needless to say, his English was very, very poor, his background in Greece was as an aircraft engineer, and his knowledge in the food business was very limited.
He had very little money, but he had a million dollar smile and was very good looking.
Visualize this Greek immigrant, who speaks very little English trying to understand and communicate with Jamaican fellows who spoke only the Jamaican vernacular (patios) asking for Cow Foot and Cow Cud.
Under normal circumstances, most likely should it have been any other store owner, he would have ignored the request of the Jamaican fellow.
However, Peter Goudas tried to explore and understand, in fact, understand is not the correct word,
it would be more appropriate to say that he attempted to grasp the full meaning of the request of this particular customer.
The Cow Foot Story It is 100% comedy and should you be able to obtain a copy, we are certain 110% sure that it would make you laugh.
Beyond the comedy of the situation, there is a very important fact that you as a consumer should know:
Up to that point, the Cow Foot was prohibited from being sold in Canada.
Therefore, the point I would like to make is that Mr. Goudas dug deeper into the situation and worked with the Canadian government which resulted in a change in the ruling and the allowance of the Cow Foot to be sold on the open market along with some restrictions, which are documented in the book.
Within the book, he portrays with humour how the first mangoes arrived and were sold in Canada.
Needless to say, the importation of the mango led to a field of other fruits, vegetables and provisions such as, dasheen bush,
eddoes, Negro yam, cocoa,
cho cho, etc.
Try now to think and explain to a non-Jamaican about the Ackee, what it looks like and what it tastes like.
The series of events leading to the importation and canning procedures of the first Ackees are perfectly portrayed in his book,
The Ackee Tree.
The book is written in a comedy format and includes some behind the scenes information related to the success or the failure of either loosing everything, or succeeding thereby showing and introducing the Ackee to the rest of the world.
We all go to the store and purchase a can of Ackees, but I bet you none of us even stop to consider the fact that someone went through a lot of pain, effort and imagination to be the first person to can the Ackee and document the procedure.
There are many examples of his innovations in the food industry in his quest to satisfy other nationalities with their food requests.
Trying to incorporate his food items into the chain store at the time was a very difficult task.
Visualize the following conservation between Peter Goudas and the buyer at the chain store sitting in a board room meeting.
Mr. Goudas – "I have Ackee, Pigeon Peas, Okra, Hot Peppers, Callaloo and Yam."
The buyer at the supermarket who only knows Canadian food – potatoes, cabbage, carrots and steak, is sitting on the other side of the desk and responds –
"What on earth are you talking about Mr. Goudas?"
Mr. Goudas – "Ackee is the national food of Jamaica. Pigeon Peas are utilized by Trinidadians, Okra, Hot Peppers, Callaloo and Yams are used by all the Caribbean people."
The buyer – "Are you trying to tell me Mr. Goudas, that with your products I am going to encourage black people to my store? I do not need that!"
Mr. Goudas – "But Sir, I have a store and I know that there are requests for these products and there are customers coming to this country from every part of the world and they are looking for that and if you do not carry these products they would definitely go somewhere else."
The above is one example of a series of events and efforts on the part of Mr. Goudas to encourage and incorporate his small line of products at the time on to the supermarket shelves.
The series of events in approaching supermarkets at the time led to doors being slammed in his face.
This man did not give up on the idea because he was a visionary.
Despite of the amount of work and effort that he would put into the undertaking, he knew deep within his heart that Canada would change someday.
He opened the 813 Club at 813 Bloor Street West at Christie Park, Toronto.The ideas of trying to promote these products did not stop at the slammed doors.
Big Willy gives a Toast at the Celebration of Spyros Peter Goudas 30 years.
Willy Williams was the Manager of the 813 Club one of the best Caribbean Clubs in North America, from 1972 to 1982.
He was also the personal bodyguard of Spyros Peter Goudas.
Each Christmas, Spyros Peter gave a free party for all nationalities of children in the club and Willy dressed up as Santa Claus and entertained all the children.
He celebrated different events for the different cultures including the free Christmas parties for the children of all nationalities.
In this video, Big Willy, his nickname, ad libbed whatever he had to say on the occasion of Mr. Goudas 30 year anniversay in Canada.
Mr. Goudas used the facilities of the Club to demonstrate all the ethnic foods from the different nationalities.
His thirst for learning led him to understand the Latin American and Caribbean music.
In one of his books titled, One Caribana Story, perfectly portrays his ability to be a disc jockey (DJ) and play the music.
In another link in his website, a gentleman explains that no one was allowed to sit down when he was playing the music at the Club under the nickname of Mr. Whoo.
There were no musicians in the Caribbean that did not know Mr. Whoo at the time because they all sent him their new releases and asked him to play and introduce them to his crowd.
On the other hand, he knew all the musicians and record producers.
He possessed a huge library of music. Mr. Whoo had a wide variety of English Audio Files
Mr Goudas radio songs 1
Mr Goudas radio songs 2
Mr Goudas radio songs 3
Mr Goudas radio songs 4
This was the pre-CD era.
Music was recorded on vinyl discs during this period.
Looking and listening to them led him to think one day that it would be a good idea to invest the little bit of time he had left during the night and on the weekend to buy time on the Radio Stations CHIC and CJMR to promote the different nationalities’ music, promote a variety of food and advertise them.
The arrangements were made and finally, The Saturday Night Musical Recipe Program was on the airwaves.
I have to make a parenthesis here to let you know that Peter was beginning to understand the food business.
He knew his records and his music.
However, he had one deficiency, a language problem.
His English was very poor because he did not pursue English language courses.
He grasped concepts and used words he picked up at the street- level, such as: Rasscloth, Bombacloth, Irie, Cha Monn.
Therefore, he hired the best of the best, the cream of the crop at the time:
to mention a few as announcers and commentators.
PHOTO OF Jasse MacDonald
PHOTO OF SPYROS PETER GOUDAS & PERCY THOMAS
The music and the selection of the music was his baby.
PHOTO OF ROY STUART & SPYROS PETER GOUDAS 1976
He was a professor, an authority on the music selection subject.
After making a 3-year contract the rights to the airwaves, by mortgaging everything that he owned up to and including his underwear, he saw a drift within the ethnic audience towards his program.
In fact, they anxiously awaited its introduction and became very loyal to the program.
You may listen to it on his website.
The Saturday Night Musical Recipe Program had a tremendous listener base.
Ethnics never had the opportunity to listen to this types of music from their homeland on any other radio station on the airwaves at the time due to the fact that the programs and the airwaves were only allowed to play foreign music during 50 percent of the allocated time on the airwaves.
In defense, Mr. Goudas stretched his idea and argued the point that he had a Latin American, Caribbean and other ethnics Radio Program where does Paul Anka fit in?
He urged them to come to their senses stating we have all immigrated to Canada, therefore, do not enforce upon me and us, a law that has been in existence for many decades. He insisted that the law be changed.
TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE CANADIAN RADIO‑TELEVISION AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
listnum "WP List 3" \l 16706 This morning, Doug Kirk, President of Durham Radio, will join us.
listnum "WP List 3" \l 16707 Our title is: Diversity of Voices Hearing, our Last Chance until January 24, 2012.
listnum "WP List 3" \l 16708 Thirty years ago, November 1977, the CRTC requested 790 AM, Brampton, to cancel the three‑hour show The Saturday Night Musical Recipe, a multicultural radio show, produced by Peter Goudas, from Goudas Foods, for not complying and enforcing the 50 per cent Canadian content in their show.
listnum "WP List 3" \l 16709 The CRTC, the CANCON percentage, the number of diversity residents in Canada and the radio industry as a whole has changed drastically in the last 30 years.
listnum "WP List 3" \l 16710 What has not evolved proportionally is the lack of representation and exposure that the diverse communities and the CANCON diversity members receive from the Canadian airwaves.
listnum "WP List 3" \l 16711 We commend the CRTC for this much‑needed hearing, but we ask ourselves if maybe it isn't too late.
listnum "WP List 3" \l 16712 The latest amalgamations within the broadcasting industry have created a controlled situation by a few major players that only drastic, strong and carefully sought out measures will make a difference.
listnum "WP List 3" \l 16713 The diversity spectrum in Canada is not the same as it was 30 years ago and 'all our airwaves' have to reflect this diversity phenomenon of today.
His requests fell on deaf ears and the bureaucracy of the government resulting in the permanent shutting down of the most beautiful and innovative program on Canadian airwaves.
Sadly, Spyros Peter Goudas lost all the funds he had invested in this venture.
Thank goodness, he was able to keep his underwear.
The response from the general public was beyond imagination.
It was a possibility that he may have changed the program into Canadian music but he was so passionate in creating this program, he did not want to minimize and be restricted to the borders of Canada because he knew somewhere deep in his heart the law would change someday.
The financial impact within his balance sheet was nothing compared to the request of the general public to the CRTC of changing the law and leaving the option of the minorities in this country to be able to change the old law in the future.
Even Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the Prime Minister at the time, acknowledged the fact by saying to Mr. Goudas at one convention dinner, that we need all the nationalities to create this beautiful country.
If this incident did not happen at the time, we may have only been able to listen to our home rhythms through the internet only.
Remember, there was no internet at the time.
Let us close the subject of the airwaves for a moment and travel geographically into the Caribbean where there are hundreds of seen events, celebrations and parades.
Consequently, since we have made Canada our home, why not celebrate our cultural heritage in Canada by introducing our festivals and biggest events.
The year was 1967, Canada’s 100th Birthday, and the year in which the Caribana Celebration was initiated by a small group of people from Trinidad and Tobago as a gift to Canada on this momentous occasion.
Co-incidentally, Peter Goudas witnessed that initial, small parade.
Needless to say, he was sleeping and living on the streets anyway.
A few years later in 1974, the same group who initiated the Caribana Celebrations out of their own pocket, ended up in financial difficulties and were unable to finance, expand and continue with their efforts and ideas.
But the Good Lord above enlightened a gentleman called, Kenn F. Shah to approach Mr. Goudas with the possibility of supporting the event.
The rest is history.
You may view what Kenn F. Shah had to say in an interview on the Goudas website.
You will then have a full understanding that should that meeting never have been in existence at the time, there would be no Caribana today.
Mr. Goudas did not only finance the situation.
He gave encouragement and inspiration to the costume designers, musicians.
In fact to the entire team of players by working more than six months, including contacting band leaders and other members from the Montreal Caribana Festival and finally, the Caribana was revived again to become the biggest party in North America.
Evidence of his involvement is portrayed in the
Caribana Parades of 1975 and1976 links on his website and in the book,
One Caribana Story, which portrays the input and the effects of the beginning of the revival of this beautiful festival and the major attraction in the summer in the city of Toronto, Ontario.
In the book he mentioned about 1976
As the parade was almost half way along the route the sky opened giving torrents of water to invade the festivities.
The spectators ran for shelter from the relentless downpour.
Some ran back to their hotels and cars, some to the dry subway tunnels.
Some of the dancers and helpers of Mr. Goudas group finally had to run for cover.
The musicians tried every possible way to protect and cover their instruments.
The beautiful costumes, which had taken 6 months to prepare, melted into coloured puddles at the dancers’ feet.
As he sat on the grass near the monument viewing the wrath of nature, he thought of the expenditure of time, effort and money and he said “I had experienced many rainstorms in my life, but never had really paid much attention, as these storms have only wet my hair and clothes.
This storm wet my eyes and broke my heart”.
Mr. Goudas paused, took a deep breath and finished by saying that the Caribana parade is a wonderful thing that happens to Toronto every year and is one of the most beautiful gifts that the Caribbean has given to Canada.
At present, financial institutions have taken over control of the festivities making corporate decisions to suit their own objectives, thereby turning the occasion into something completely different from those of the original founders.
In fact, Mr. Goudas stated somewhere in one of his interviews that should Kenn F. Shah, who passed in 2002, and whose name has been synonymous with Caribana be aware of the festival today, he would be turning in his grave.
Following up on the years following the Caribana, his connections with the ethnic nationalities of all races, colours and religions.
He was finally able to convince some of the chain stores to create an “ethnic aisle”.
It is a great testament to an era of change and insight into some of the significant aspects of history of the food industry and the beginning of the “ethnic aisles”.
These events are portrayed in the book, Just another Broken Leg.
One night in 1992 at around 2 am after he had a glass of brandy he felt talkative about of how and why he broke his leg on January 14, 1979, including the affect and the outcome.
Its is a sad story but also very inspiring.
Just a reminder after the accident the bank closed the business down and yet 14 years later he won the Entrepreneur award.
This story aired several times on different radio programs, in churches and different media; it is also a subject of discussion among hosts and guests on various radio programs.
Apparently this story has been an inspiration to many who have met similar fate and it has given them the will and the hope to stay strong.
In that same year, he got married to his girlfriend of over a decade, Patricia from Barbados, who shortly thereafter gave birth to Panos
(short for Panagiotis, named after his grandfather).
It took him a few years to recover not only from the injury to his leg but from the financial institutions, the bank and his lenders.
In the years to follow with tremendous determination he created more ethnic products based not on price, but on quality to revive himself again and to satisfy every nationality in this country.
The creation of these products was not based on price that means either he produced the best or he does not produce it at all.
In addition, in parallel with his efforts to succeed, he gave his support to many associations, food banks, disaster relief efforts, senior citizen’s homes, etc., which is evidenced through numerous thank you letters in the Letters of Appreciation Section of his website.
VIEW THE HURRICANE GILBERT IN JAMAICA
IVAN IN GRANEDA EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI ETC
If he had to list all of them, it would probably take forever to read.
All these efforts on behalf of Peter Goudas did not go unnoticed in the eyes of the Canadian government and In November 1993, he was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Some of the criteria were:
that the individual receiving the award had
to create his own business,
demonstrate a degree of innovation,
make an impact in the industry,
and give something back to the community.
George Hall, a government employee and the bailiff who came to close his plant, was in attendance at this ceremony and award presentation and explained to the hundreds in the audience in his own words the impact of this man on Canadian life.
Not only in the business world, but in his humanitarian effort in Canadian life.
In another sector, he created the most beautiful website in the world by the name of
www.flyermall.com with a viewership of over 1,000,000 on a weekly basis.
We are not going to go into details on his life from there on because it would take many newspaper articles and a series of editorials forever.
However, we will summarize it by saying that we, as outsiders, who admire his continuous efforts to perfect the food products of all the nationalities that make Canada their home.
At one point, each nationality claimed ownership of Mr. Goudas.
His biography titled, The Immigrant Has been an inspirational eye-opener into the introduction of food from my section of the globe, The Caribbean, into the Canadian Market.
As I am writing this article, I have begun to feel a little selfish about the Jamaica and, in general, the Caribbean theme.
I seem to be totally ignoring that I am living in this multicultural country where hundreds of nationalities now call home.
Therefore, I am changing the point of view from down to up and I am looking from above down to earth and I begin to focus on Canada.
Somewhere within my view I began to focus on one person who in the last so many years have placed all the nationalities into a comfort zone enabling us all to at least enjoy the simple food pleasures from numerous countries right here in Canada.
Should I have been from any other part of the globe, like China, South-east Asia, Greece, Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka or even the Philippines, I am very certain that I would have gravitated to the Mr. Goudas line of products as a source of daily nutrition and out of necessity to provide sustenance to the body.
Chinese White Rice, Parboiled Rice, Scented Rice, Basmati Rice, Bamboo Shoots, Water Chestnuts, Coconut Cream, Coconut Powder, Coconut Water, Lentils, Chick Peas, Split Peas, Grape Leaves, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Olives, Cabbage Rolls, Lima Beans, Black Beans, Curry Powder, Spices, Sauces and Seasonings, Vegetable Oil, Corn Oil, Salt, 100% Pure Cane Sugar, Brown Sugar, Corn Meal, Tamarind, Sweetened Condensed Milk, Evaporated Milk, Lychee, Longan, Rambutan, Sardines,Mackerel, Tomato Sauce, Tomato Paste, Carrot Juice, Mandarin Oranges!
In addition to the food creation, he wrote over 300 recipes
and 42 books by the year 2010 with topics such as love of animals,
birds, countries (such as: Colombia, Costa Rica, and others),
life incidents including eye disease like floaters, leg and back injuries.
And he wrote the stories of all links in the Flyermall tubes.
These books have been published and distributed to organizations, associations, universities etc, and some of the books have been translated into foreign languages.
Everything you need is under the Goudas line of products regardless of where you are from!
The most recent photo prompted me to ask him if each of the hairs on his head were reflective his experiences.
It is amazing how Peter takes a serious topic and projects uncontrollable laughter into his response ..
“Man", he said, "You see this picture here?"
One of my secretaries visited me and started laughing her head off, saying, "Sir, what happened to you?" Where did all that grey hair come from, do you not still kick a’’’ and insisted that she take a photo so that I could remember this day.
What would life be in Canada, or the world for that matter, without Mr. Goudas? (SPYROS PETER GOUDAS )
Boring, monotonous, a constant yearning for “home” foods!
A nightmare all day long! He is not one to brag of his accomplishments.
He has been the subject of many discussions, study sessions and everyday conversations.
Where would we be without him?