He was born in Port Arthur, Ontario on October 4, 1924, and moved to the USSR with his parents in 1930. He returned to Canada with his mother in 1947, and at age 23 got his first job driving truck for Purity Bakery.
He worked for Saasto's Men's Wear until the early 1950's when on a shoestring and with a wealth of determination, he opened Lauri's Men's Wear in a small shop on lower Bay Street.
Over the next 54 years, Lauri would become known as a Bay Street Icon. His initial success led him to erect his own building block on upper Bay, directly across from the Hoito Restaurant, which housed Bay Deli, Kestitupa Restaurant, and Lauri's Pool Hall. He gave up the clothing trade to run his Pool Hall, and soon expanded his business by erecting a second block on lower Bay in which he operated Lauri's Independent hardware. Loving the hardware business, future expansion on his first property saw the inclusion of a second storey of rental apartments, and the moving of his hardware store from down the street into the Pool Hall location, where he operated a Home Hardware franchise. The franchise was later dropped, and he formed what is known today as Lauri's Hardware and Pawnbrokers, the "Smithsonian" of hardware stores. His collection of Bay Street properties also came to include the Little Finn Hall, located next to the Hoito Restaurant, which several years ago became the new and now final location of Lauri's Hardware and Pawnbrokers. In the course of conducting business, Lauri's caring and compassionate nature earned him a reputation of "the man with the kind heart".
Two of Lauri's favourite pastimes over the years included his one hour radio show which aired on CFPA radio every Saturday evening through the early 1970’s, and his many hours spent piloting his own Piper Club aircraft, which he enjoyed immensely.
Retirement was never an option for Lauri, and with lots of help in recent years from his close friend Ron Poster, he was able to proudly operate his prized establishment until his recent illness, at the age of 79. Over the years, Lauri was often referred to as “The Mayor of Bay Street”. Lauri’s Hardware became not just a business, but a social meeting place. Oldtimers and bush workers found solace in their visits to see Lauri in the store, and patrons from throughout the city and region came regularly to converse with the man who referred to everyone as “My Friend.” His parting words were always “Thank you my Friend” or “We’ll see you my Friend”. Bay Street will never be the same without Lauri.
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