Harry Stinson is a well-known entrepreneur and innovator. Stinson first business was launched in 1967 as a catering company that handled private dinners and banquets in Toronto, as well as a seasonal (summertime) café in Muskoka.
In 1971, he created The Groaning Board Restaurant; Toronto’s first ‘healthy-food’ and non-smoking restaurant, which was successfully operated by the Stinson family for over 25 years, an unusual lifespan in the restaurant business.
The company expanded from a small restaurant into several major supper clubs, offering an eclectic program of live entertainment, including major artists in folk, rock, blues, jazz and comedy. Stinson also developed a unique and very long-running feature at the restaurants known as “The World’s Best Commercials” where diners could view reels of prize-winning international ads. The Canadian rights to these films were owned by Adfilms Ltd., another Stinson family company, which has since relocated to Hamilton. Stinson also owned and operated a 500-seat, art-deco revue cinema, at which Stinson periodically produced live concerts.
Through his involvement in entertainment, Stinson also became involved in co-producing and/or catering major concerts and live music festivals, including such diverse artists as Dire Straits, Harry Chapin, The Kingston Trio, Mort Sahl, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Rogers, The Nylons, Howie Mandel, George Thorogood, Mendelson Joe, Bard, and many others.
Another Stinson creation was the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, a restaurant specializing entirely in children’s birthday parties. During the 1970’s the Mad Hatter also operated a 200-seat, fully-equipped auditorium, producing its own family-oriented live theatre offerings. The business remains popular after 30 years in operation, although Stinson sold his interest in 1990.
He is a frequent headline speaker at business conferences, including appearing onstage – and holding his own – with such ‘interesting’ personalities as Donald Trump. Stinson personally hosted a late-night infomercial for ten years.
Stinson was one of the first Toronto developers to recognize the potential for urban condominiums, to develop residential lofts, to convert old office and warehouse buildings and to utilize computer animation and television infomercials in the sale of real estate.
Stinson founded and operated Harry Stinson Real Estate, which he built throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s to become Toronto’s leading condominium resale brokerage. Although independent, Stinson’s brokerage eventually held the largest residential market share in the central downtown core of any individual or franchise brokerage office.
Over the years, Stinson became increasingly involved in condominium development, acting as a principal, joint venture partner and/or consultant in a wide range of projects, the common thread being that each project was comparatively unique and/or posed unusual challenges of design, marketing or construction.
Stinson collects antique cars which he uses in his business interests.