Ed Freeland’s life has been described by many as “the consummate Canadian success story”. Through a lifetime of hard work and determination, Ed earned a reputation for being one of North America’s most respected entrepreneurs in the customs brokerage industry.
His career began soon after the end of WWII when he and a partner opened Peace Bridge Brokerage Limited in Fort Erie. Working from a cramped office above a taxi company, Ed applied enthusiasm, determination and grit to every endeavour, as well as a commitment to provide customers with the highest level of standards and service. Business grew steadily and branch offices were established in St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland and Toronto. At the time of award, Peace Bridge Brokerage Group had 45 offices, employing more than 800 people throughout Canada and the United States. The head office has always remained in Fort Erie.
At an age when many have retired to a quieter lifestyle, Ed continued as a fulltime chairman and Chief Executive Officer at PBB Group, and was active in both business and community affairs. The Edward J. Freeland Foundation has contributed assets of more than $5 million to the community. The Fort Erie YMCA was named in his honour and through his foundation. Ed also donated 18 acres of land for the new Fort Erie town hall and Leisureplex centre. While he did not enjoy the benefit of a formal education, Ed has been an enthusiastic supporter of Brock University, and in particular, the business school. He was the founder of the Fort Erie Kinsmen Club and served as President of the Canadian Kinsmen Club. Ed has received numerous awards and citations of the years, including an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Brock University. He was also nominated for the Order of Canada.