This obituary was issued by Mini Grid this week. We reproduce it for our readers as George played a significant role in growing the model collecting fraternity from its early days in the late 1970s.
It is with great sadness that we share the news that Mini Grid founder George Maxwell has passed away in his 80th year. George left us peacefully with family at his side in the early hours of Thursday, May 24th after a long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s.
A note from the Maxwell Family:
George’s journey thru life was fulfilling and immensely rewarding, much in part to his vision and creation of Mini Grid, which allowed him to share his enthusiasm for motorsports and the model car hobby with others of similar interests. His profession was a school teacher, but his passion was cars and car racing. From being a track marshall at Mosport and Harewood Acres in the 1960’s and moving on to become the Chief Course Marshall and Clerk of the Course positions at international races at Mosport; then racing himself in a Datsun 510 from 1970 until 1974.
George in action at Mosport 1971 in his Datsun 510
In 1975 George’s teaching career took him overseas to work at the Canadian Armed Forces base in Lahr, West Germany. This is where the Mini Grid story really begins. In Europe the model car kit industry was in full swing and George quickly embraced the hobby, with model car shops existing in almost every town and village throughout the Continent. Taking advantage of his time in Europe he established relationships with most of the cottage industry sized kit manufacturers (John Day; FDS: Speilwaren Danhausen: AMR: Tron: Grand Prix Models; Western Models etc., etc.,) and upon returning to Canada in late 1977, he launched his new mail order business; Mini Grid Scale Models; in the basement of his Scarborough home. With wife Julia running the administration side; and with the help of friends like Bob Brockington, John Hall and George Webster promoting the hobby and the business; Mini Grid thrived and for the next 8 years the basement on Pebble Hill Square was a hive of activity as the business grew, with not only the mail order business (pre internet of course); but an increasing stream of ‘visitors’ knocking on the back door coming over for a visit to see the latest arrivals from Europe. Mini Grid had now outgrown “the basement on Pebble Hill”.
George and Julia in “The basement on Pebble Hill”. The original Mini Grid.
Therefore, in 1986, Mini Grid opened their first retail store on Hwy. #7 in Unionville, and for the next 17 years George and Julia ran the shop; along with help from equally enthusiastic staff; which now had expanded its selection and expertise to include all the latest in motoring books, videos, art, slot cars and; at the time; the then flourishing die-cast model industry. Supported by an amazing and appreciative customer base (of which George would know virtually everyone by name) they all shared the same interests and passions, and George was in his element. Good times and great memories.
George with one of his more well known customers – Sir Stirling Moss
By the early millennium health issues meant George had to take a step back and in 2003 he decided to retire from the business and sell his ‘retirement fund’; the building on Hwy. #7. It was at that time Mini Grid moved to its current location on Mt. Pleasant Road. His interest in the business never wavered however, and he would often offer advice, lend a hand, or just hang out in the store or at the Mini Grid booth up at Mosport greeting old friends and customers (same thing to him) and sharing stories. And that was what George was all about – friends. He loved people, always saw the good in them. He had a heart the size of a lion, and just wanted to make everyone happy.
Outside of Mini Grid not much changed for George post retirement. He continued to be active and involved with family, always with wife Julia at his side; always a very proud father of three; and a dotting grandfather of five. His favourite place in the world was at a racing track, and it didn’t matter where, even though Mosport would always be top of the list. Fitting then that; with his health deteriorating; his final trip out was last fall to Goodwood Kartways to watch his 8 year old grandson Ryan compete in his Championship deciding race. Ryan won, and the embrace after between Grandpa George and his Grandson was, well, unforgettable. Life had gone full circle as they say.
George’s (here with daughter Robyn) last visit to his beloved Mosport was in the summer of 2016
The last couple of years have not been kind to George as Alzheimer’s invaded his body; and for those who remember the always smiling, laughing and jovial man you will understand that he is in a now much, much better place.
Nothing would have made him happier than saying goodbye to all his long-time friends and associates he met over the years thru Mini Grid, but speaking on behalf of the Maxwell Family we know he would want us to say thank-you to all of you who touched and enriched George’s life and made it a better place for him.
Gone but never forgotten.
For those who may be interested:
Ogden Funeral Home
4164 Sheppard Ave East
Monday visitation 6-9pm
Tuesday service at 1pm
In lieu of flowers and memorial donations can be made to Alzheimer’s Society of Canada