Where Are They Now?

Ronald E. Winter

Extraordinary does not even begin to describe this York Memorial Alumnus’ career. Ronald E. Winter graduated from the University of Toronto in 1949 with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree and started up his own engineering firm just six years later in 1955. Ron not only went on to build the largest shopping centre in the province, he built an entire city.

Ironically Ron came into his profession much by accident. During most of his childhood life he thought he would become a doctor, just like his father. After a real life experience witnessing human damage, Ron discovered that the decision to become a doctor was not his own but rather his father’s.When Ron went to tell his father that he no longer wanted to become a doctor his father asked what Ron would rather become, Ron blurted out: engineer. “The only other occupation [he] knew”.

The roots of a man can often speak volumes about his personality; Ron’s roots were no exception. Ron’s hardworking personality can be dated back to his childhood. Ron was born in Toronto in 1926. Growing up in the Roseland area of Mount Dennis during the Depression, Ron’s parents made sure that he never had idle hands. Whether he was helping his loving mother garden or working summer jobs, Ron was always working. Ron’s father’s perseverance was due to the way his Scottish mother raised him. Ron credits his father for shaping his personality; diligence runs in the family apparently.

Ron started high school in 1939 and spent his five years at YMCI; Ron graduated in 1945 and started at the University of Toronto in 1946 where he pursued his dream of becoming an engineer that would one day “build a city west of Toronto”. Ron graduated UofT in 1949 with a Bachelor of Applied Science and this marked the start of his professional career as a Civil Engineer. Ron was taken in by R. K. Kilborn Associates promptly after graduating university. After building his knowledge and honing his skills Ron left Kilborn and started his own company in 1955. One of his first projects is one that many may recognize, the Chris TonksSkating Arena. Ron and his company designed a roof above the rink to keep the sun from melting the ice. Upon completing the roof the Township of York was so impressed that they hired Ron again to build walls around the rink, with this the arena was complete. R.E Winter & Associates’ reputation spread. 

Numerous projects and travels later, Ron came into contact with the man who would give Ron the opportunity to make his dream a reality; this man was Bruce McLaughlin. Bruce hired Ron and his company to design the city of Mississauga in 1959. Within 10 years of graduating from university, this extraordinary man designed an entire city as well as Square One Shopping Centre. His perseverance through the years paid off and he was able to accomplish his dream.

Ron has not only built an entire city from the ground up but he has built lasting relationships throughout his life that have helped him climb ranks and become the man he is today. It is easy to think of Ron just as a person who designed the city of Mississauga or the largest shopping centre in the province. But a man is not simply defined by his accomplishments in life, but also by the relationships and connections he builds with the people around him. The list of friends and connections Ron has developed throughout his career is a long one but one relationship shines brighter than the rest; the relationship he had with his wife. Ron met Jenny Carton in April of 1951 and married her the following year. On the day of the interview the first thing Ron brought in was a scrapbook filled to the brim with photographs of him and his wife. This scrapbook stands as a testament to the loving relationship he had with his wife. The first photos he shared with us the day we met him were of his wife and family;only after that scrapbook did he show us pictures of the buildings he designed. Ron might have very well built more meaningful bridges to people’s hearts than he did actual bridges in his career.

Ron currently lives in North York with his daughter. His son has followed in his footsteps and has become an engineer. Ron currently works at his local church, his hard working, diligent spirit is still alive and strong. Mississauga stands as a monument to Ron’s hard work and determination. After interviewing this man I have learned so much in the way of living life to its full potential. Ron personally credits his success to the book “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Sadly, the book does not teach you how to build a city; it does tell you how to build meaningful relationships. Ron says that everyone would benefit from reading such an outstanding book.I personally have a copy of the book lying on my desk and maybe, just maybe,with it I’ll build my own city.

Interview and article by Eric Nguyen; photographs by NithyaSrithiran