My father, businessman Mr. Pyare L. Sharma, was the owner/operator of Kettleman’s Bagel Company franchise on Carling Avenue. He passed away on July 16, 2015.
He was a true philanthropist, a selfless man who did unprecedented humanitarian work throughout his lifetime.
My father was a textile engineer and master of cloth dying, he managed upwards of 300+ employees at a large textile mill in New Delhi, India. The family was receiving constant threats from Union members via telephone and written letters demanding more and more money and benefits. My father tried his best to convince the owners to meet some of their demands, but to no avail. In 1971, he left his native India spontaneously for Ottawa due to a Union uprising. He had only a hundred dollars in his pocket and very large dreams to make a better and peaceful life for his family.
He worked any job he could find in Ottawa, from security guard to working for EB Eddy papermill earning $2-$3 an hour. He got word about the taxi business, and started his taxi driving career with ABC taxi service, later moving into Blueline taxi in early eighties. He drove seven days a week, 14-16 hours a day while supporting his mother, three children and beloved wife. He worked tirelessly and was determined to make Canada their home, a Canada which included his family and friends.
My father and I purchased Kettleman’s Bagel Company Franchise in 2004. The family has successfully increased business and product line, adding technology to the shop, free Wifi for customers, a website, and electronic POS systems to increase productivity and customer experience. We have kept the traditional wood burning oven and Montreal style recipe for all the bagels produced.
Throughout the years, the family stayed united, and, as the children got older and adopted the Canadian dream, helped the family in any way they could. The eldest child is a long-time supervisor with the City of Ottawa, the middle child is part owner of Kettleman’s and a full-time employee as an analyst with the Government of Canada, the youngest child is in real estate and working with a large tool manufacturing company in Toronto. All are married and have teenage children.
My father was very honest and caring; a very positive role model within our family and in our community. He has enriched the lives of many people here in Canada and in India. He was a great ambassador for Canada while in India and a great ambassador for India while in Canada for the last 44 years.
In 1967, while still in India, Mr. Sharma started a yearly community function in the state of Punjab that celebrated and promoted religious harmony. Members from any faith came and worshipped – members from all religions including Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and non-believers. This yearly function is held on the first Sunday of November and continues to assist the less fortunate.
My father has gone back to India almost every year since 1972 to personally organize this five-day function that includes free meals, dental, medical and vision camps, cancer detection, prosthetics, wheelchairs and other assistive devices, fresh well water, and group marriages for the less fortunate.
My father was a great person who made a positive impact on any person he interacted with. He was able to do all this work with the help of his team members. Generous people donated money and products, partnered with professionals, doctors, dentists etc. who volunteered 100% their time and 100% of their resources to make this yearly event successful
My father never wanted any personal publicity for the humanitarian work that he had done throughout his life, but great deeds should be talked about.
These are just a few of the extraordinary examples of how my father has given back to humanity, and set an example for others to follow.
Ranjeev Sharma (Son)
Categories: Letters to the editor