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How Toronto’s lavishly rich Latner family is tearing itself apart

Albert’s empire would likely never have existed if it weren’t for his wife. Temmy Latner was raised near Dundas and Spadina, just a few blocks from her future husband. In the early 1930s, Arthur Weinstock, Temmy’s father, founded Delight Dress, a womenswear factory on Spadina Avenue, the heart of the garment district. Delight Dress boomed and he made a tidy profit, but in the ’50s business began to slow down and Arthur decided to try another line of work. He teamed up with his friend Lipa Green in a new real estate development company they called Greenwin Properties—a loose portmanteau of the co-owners’ names.

Temmy and Albert married in a small ceremony in June of 1949 at Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue, then on St. Clair West. Afterward, they drove to Miami for a budget honeymoon. Temmy quickly became pregnant, and Albert, a dutiful young man, dropped out of university to support his new family. His wealthy father-in-law set him up with a job on a Greenwin construction crew. Arthur mentored Albert in the business, helping him work his way up the ranks. With Lipa’s sons, Al and Harold Green, Albert would help grow Greenwin into a Toronto construction behemoth.

He picked an opportune moment to join the construction industry: mid-century Toronto was undergoing a massive expansion. Greenwin built much of Don Mills, one of the city’s first suburbs, as well as dozens of condominiums in the downtown and subsidized social housing complexes in the inner suburbs. All told, the company would erect more than 15,000 residential apartment units and over six million square feet of commercial space in the GTA, eventually expanding into developments across the country.

Michael Latner

The first of Albert and Temmy’s four children was Steven, born in 1950, a bright, gregarious boy with a love of books, followed swiftly by the diligent middle brother Michael, then Elise, the lone girl who, from the beginning, preferred the company of her mother to anyone else, and finally, after a gap of six years, Joshua. The family lived in a tiny, sparsely furnished house on Khedive Avenue near Bathurst and Wilson, but soon moved to a house in Don Mills—one of the first houses in the subdivision, it was surrounded by farmers’ fields. As Albert’s fortune grew, the family moved to bigger digs in swankier districts of the city: a modern split-level at Lawrence and Bathurst, a mock-Tudor mansion on Warren Road in Forest Hill, and eventually a sprawling farm in King City.

Elise Latner

Friends who were close to the Latners in those years describe a tight-knit household dominated by confident boys with healthy intellects and egos to match. Family dinners—particularly Friday night Shabbat—were a sacred ritual. Latner gatherings, according to one regular house guest, were “dominated by loud, liberal chat among the men that would escalate into an uncontrollable cacophony of excited expletives and arguments.” Temmy and Elise, by contrast, would retreat into the sitting room to knit and do needlepoint in peace.

Temmy was always cooking, sewing, knitting, sketching, ironing, decorating or doing needlepoint—when she wasn’t playing piano. As a girl, she studied under the legendary concert pianist Boris Berlin (he held a needle under her wrists while she played to keep them from sagging). Her favourite piece, Rachmaninov’s Prelude, no. 2 in C-sharp Minor, could often be heard throughout the house. “She was an incredibly gracious lady who made everyone around her feel good,” remembers Tsion Avital, a family friend who first met the Latners in 1972 while on a visit from Israel to research his PhD at U of T. One night, when he was ill, a pot of homemade chicken soup arrived at his apartment, delivered by Temmy’s chauffeur. Many years later, when Avital’s first son was born, Temmy, on a visit to Israel, presented him with a handmade quilt. “This is a woman who could have bought a million quilts,” he said, “but she chose to make one instead.”

Those who knew Albert and Temmy in their heyday describe their marriage as a great love affair, one that provided a bedrock for their children. Temmy was Albert’s best friend, the only person he fully confided in and trusted.

  • CD

    Shame on this family. They are all a bunch of “LOSERS”.

  • Pedro

    I love this article, it is such a great summer read! Thanks Leah!

  • Balmoral

    Finally! A toronto life article with some actual personality and bite. Ditch the 15 page articles on zoo elephants and feature more of this!

  • Denise C

    I agree , its a great read , but there are all greedy and their wonderful parents do not deserve this
    No Respect

  • Lauren

    I can appreciate that the wealthy have different problems from us “normal folk”, but this is crazy. Suing your family over every grievence, every disagreement, sounds like the behaviour of an immature, self-entitled baby. It’s as if they’ve got nothing better to, so they amuse themselves by suing each other. And that lawyer should be ashamed of himself – he’s an enabler, not legal counsel.

  • Lauren

    I can appreciate that the wealthy have different problems from us “normal folk”, but this is crazy. Suing your family over every grievance, every disagreement, sounds like the behaviour of an immature, self-entitled baby. It’s as if they’ve got nothing better to, so they amuse themselves by suing each other. And that lawyer should be ashamed of himself – he’s an enabler, not legal counsel.

  • Liz

    If this was the way the family business was run, this was taught.

  • James

    This article is disgusting. Leave people alone. No one cares about this gossip. Crappy journalism at its best.

  • Julie Ciraco

    James,why so nasty? Disgusting article? Really?? I for one love to read about the problems of the very rich especially as I am currently un-employed and counting every penny. Family means nothing to these people, to be that greedy deserves no sympathy from me, these siblings are disgusting. To be given a house would be more than generous for most of us, to have no mortgage would make me positively giddy!

  • JoJo

    Why don’t they do a reality TV show – and it’s Canadian…

  • Jeff Black

    Fantastic Article..The bottom line is that even with all the millions and millions of dollars that these people have, there is no happiness..There is a tremendous rift that I am sure has Temmy spinning…Personality clashes happen, but to create a “them vs us” mentality in a family is sad….Leah has written an article that is a cautionary tale..It is important to have money, but family means much, much more..Albert is not a young man, he is a Grandfather and to ignore a Grandchild is ridiculous…I hope these people realize what is important in life before it is to late…It would be nice to read at some point in the future that they all sat down without their lawyers and discussed what needs to be fixed, yell, laugh, cry and talk not sue and remember what family is all about..I hope they do it for Temmy and future generations of the Latner family..

  • R0MA

    An example of the bottom-feeding antics of a family with no moral compass … mama dies and it’s to hell in a handbasket … the old lady must be spinning in her grave …. or laughing her fool head off!!!!!! Bwaahaha

  • nicole

    wow,even with money this is white trash at it’s finest…just with nicer trailer homes

  • victor*y

    I just finished rading this terrific article and kept wondering why the family even bothers to retain homes in Toronto. They would be better off somewhere in the miiddle east having tribal feuds as they collect their monies hourly. Being wealthy and having class is never a certainty.
    Or a guarantee.All the money that they have is eclipsed by their pitiful attitudes towards each other. What their parents had was self respect. Something that their money appears to be wilfully ueless in attaining. Their moral compasses are bankrupt and their sense of self worth is counterfeit. Thankfully Toronto Life chose to avoid having their names on the front cover and instead chose a skewer of meats and vegetables. Something that will be barbequed long after the bad taste of this family has left our memory.

  • Darlene

    Your mother would be so proud of what you’ve become…..shame on all of you.

  • mondayjane

    This is an excellent article – although a thoroughly depressing story. Temmy sounds like she had a goodness or integrity to offer of some sort, but I guess that trait being passed down to her children was completely overshadowed by their enormously dysfunctional trainwreck of a dad. After I read the article I felt that if Temmy were around there would be no lawsuits. Really sad.

  • Catherine

    Great article, kept me enrthralled. Had no idea that there were 17,000 housholds in Canada with over $30 million.

  • michelle

    Can a family friend please arrange for Albert to meet with all the grandchildren just to tell the love story of Albert and Temmy, show the photos, etc., in order to start the conversation, and get back to family roots. The children (Steven, Michael, Elise and Joshua) need to stay away from this event. Albert needs to reflect on Temmy and have a chance of to tell the story of Temmy’s values and sense of family, and Albert and Temmy devoted relationship. Do it before Albert passes away. Elise seems to have grasped the moral compass in seeing at least the chuppah incident through the eyes of her mother. But how does she stand a chance in dealing with her immature brothers. Albert- find your inner soul – remember Temmy and think about what she would want. There can be a happier ending here.

  • PS

    I hurt when I hear how money squabbles affect family relationships. This Latner “squabble” is quite extreme and although the story grabs the Toronto Life readers, such a story is better left behind closed doors…of family court and lawyers.
    Their monies have helped do good in the world but have destroyed their sense of family. How sad…
    Temmy Latner has no doubt rolled over and over and over again in her grave, her spirit surrounded by such ill-will amidst her husband and offspring.

  • Montreal

    Tax dollars hard at work!!

  • Jan Shimano

    I stumbled across this article about Al Latner and his family. I found it very interesting personally, as back in 1972 and 1973 and was junior secretary to Al Latner and Al Green. At that time Joshua was just a little boy around 7 or 8 years old.
    They were a very close family and they ate out in the best restaurants on a regular basis.
    Either Steven or Michael had a middle name of Elliot and I liked the name so much that I gave my son, who was born in 1973 the middle name of Elliot also.
    Mr. Latner was one of the most generous people I have ever worked for. He was interested in art back then and had a small art gallery. On special occasions, such as our birthday or wedding anniversary, he sent us down to a special room where he had lots of art work stocked and told us to select an item of our liking. I knew nothing about art so I would choose something that I liked the look of, not knowing if it was valuable or not.
    I still have two paintings hanging on my wall, and I believe that are Marino’s.
    Working for Mr. Latner was a highlight of my career some 40 years ago.

  • ed

    Short people will always be jerks.

  • Ha Ha

    Will Toronto Life be sued for publishing this article? LOL

  • Simonk

    For the sake of Temmy’s memories, honour and her love for you all, stop it all of you!!!

  • Marco

    I used to work for the Latner family on a personal level. I got to know them all, and they are some of the most generous and warm hearted people I have ever met. It is no secret that they are extremely well off, but they treated me like family and never once made me feel like an outsider. Every family has its problems, and a family with this amount of wealth is dealing with theirs. There is a lot of principle that goes behind their actions and with the amount of money they have I dont blame them for taking the steps that they did. This article paints the family as money hungry and greedy when they are nothing like that at all.

  • Debra

    Gee, how does one become a lawyer for the great shower of shite that is most of this family? That’s where the REAL money is! A fish stinks from the head down – Albert Latner deserves every bad thing that happens.

  • ChelseaCanuck

    This is sad but I have no sympathy. Unfortunately Albert and Temmy raised a bunch of spoiled brats and now Albert is having to deal with the fallout of that. Despite the older brothers’ accusation that Joshua has “never worked a day in his life” none of them have ever worked a day as far as I’m concerned. Being handed a position on a board without having to hustle, submit a resume, do a job interview on any of the things that normal people go through is not “work”. It’s passing the time. And to say it’s not about the money is ridiculous. If it’s not about the money, then drop it. Move on. Be happy. Realize how lucky you are and shut the hell up.

  • family worker

    This is an absolutely great family. I worked for them for over 12 years. I know every one of them personally and they all knew me quite well. They are just that to each other – FAMILY. YOU CAN BET ON THAT. Mr. & Mrs. Latner instilled in me that their wealth was in their family, not from money. This comes from someone who is not related to them whatsoever, in any way. I saw it everyday. I can go on and on with much proof. I have many memories of good things. This family has stuff that money can’t buy. This article is very shallow, and skirts around a superficial “tear”. A good read maybe. But, nowhere near the heart of this family.

    Allan

  • Old Friend

    I spent several years back in the late 70′s with Josh at St. George’s College in Toronto. During those years I got to know Josh and his family well. They were wonderful and generous people and always made me feel comfortable in their homes.

    Your article makes them out to be villains which I know they are not. To be sure Temmy was the glue that held this family together. What an amazingly grounded woman and genuinely kind woman. Losing her must have hurt her children as much as it hurt Albert.

    They are great people that unfortunately have to solve their personal issues in the public eye. They will work it out, I just hope that they can do it before they loose their father.

  • Old Friend

    What the article doesn’t articulate well is that Josh is a very intelligent, well educated and disciplined person. In the years that I knew Josh , he was always working on some new business idea….I remember the kids sneakers he envisioned that you could draw on on erase. Josh called them “Scriblblers” I believe. He had ideas to be sure, and big ideas at that. He has a lot of his father’s creative business mind.

    Josh has always been a big thinker and a free spirit. The fact that he chose to live his life free of the burden of a 9 to 5 job is a privilege that his parents works hard to give him. I respect his decision and know that it was the right decision for him.

  • Fred D Roper

    I will answer this with a short and sweet comment
    Money can not buy health or happiness so enjoy the people you still have ,once they are gone you can bring them back I lost my Mom Dad and a lot of family connections and miss them so much money will never heal that so be happy enjoy life

    I wish i was rich but it was not meant for me so i enjoy what i have

 

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