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Our Story - Since 1977

Cahill’s Outerwear was incorporated in 1977 as Bernard Cahill Furs Inc. by the founder and president, Bernard Cahill.

And so it Begins...

Bernie began his life in Ormskirk, England in 1934 as an orphan born in the workhouse. He was immediately fostered to the Ashworth’s in Southport England in his first year. He was raised in Southport near Liverpool before, during, and after World War II.

When Bernie was in his mid teens delivering laundry on his bike, he delivered his regular load of shop coats to Cobells Furriers in Southport. The owner, Dennis Cohen, asked him how much he was making and after answering, Dennis said “I’ll double it if you work for me. I need a new apprentice”.

Bernie accepted and thus began his career and trade as a furrier. After his apprenticeship, he was cutting, sewing, blocking and joining fur coats.

At this time, National Service was law. After turning 18, he was drafted into the British Army as a staff car driver in the Royal Army Service Corps.

After his basic training, he was posted to Berlin, Germany as a staff driver. He drove many officers in the British Occupation Forces, including the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the British Forces Germany, General Sir Richard Gale, the former commander of the 6th British Airborne Division which landed at Normandy on D-day.

When Bernie’s National Service was completed, he returned to Southport and back to his job at Cobells. By this time, Dennis Cohen had moved to Montreal and changed his name to Dennis Grosvenor, after a street Dennis lived on in Southport. Dennis started Grosvenor Furs in Montreal and became the largest fashion furrier in the world. He had models as famous as Zsa Zsa Gabor, and catered to many, including Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family.

After the passing of his foster parents, Bernie decided to leave England and start a new life in Canada with a suitcase in hand and enough money to get him to the ‘other side of the pond.’ Bernie left his remaining family to explore life in Canada, which he learned about from his English teacher, and the glories of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the fur trade that he had become a part of.

Immigration officials at the time said there was a strong demand for furriers because the cold Canadian climate, and that the economy was thriving. Despite this, when he landed in Toronto in ‘57, there was not a job to be had in the fur trade. He got a job at a car wash on Spadina Avenue while he figured out what to do next. He knew Dennis Grosvenor had moved to Montreal. When he contacted him, Dennis said he didn’t really need anyone but to come ahead anyway. So Bernie went back to work with Dennis Grosvenor in the busiest and largest fur business in Canada.

After a year or so, jobs opened up in Toronto. He moved back there and took a room in a boarding house with two elderly English ladies and began working for family furriers in Toronto, honing his trade and customer service.

He moved from there to another boarding house run by the Oreskovich family, Lou, Louise, Josie, Carolyn and Margie. There he stayed until finally marrying Margie and moving into an apartment above a storefront on Yonge Street in Toronto.

They moved to Scarborough and raised three boys: James, Robert and Richard. Bernie continued work at various fur companies in Toronto, moving up from furrier, to sales manager, and finally general manager of the fur salons at Holt Renfrew and Eaton’s College Street.

In 1974, Bernie was offered the management of Barrie’s Furs in Peterborough, Ontario. He decided a smaller city was the place to raise a family, much like his hometown of Southport.

After working for Barrie’s two years, Bernie decided to go out on his own and opened Bernard Cahill Furs Inc. in 1977. The first store was the old Lyda Telford dress shop on King Street, moving to 281 George Street two years later, before settling at 134 Hunter Street West in downtown Peterborough, which we are at today.

Bernie was a very involved community member with service organizations such as Kinsmen, Rotary (Paul Harris Fellow), Easter Seals, Camp Kawartha, Five Counties Children’s Centre and Peterborough Member of City Council for the Downtown Ward, also sponsoring the Toronto Argonauts Football Club.

Very sadly, during Bernie’s 3rd year on Council, he was diagnosed with cancer. After an 11 month fight with the disease, on April 11 2007 at age 73, Bernie slipped away with Margie and family by his side. During this time, he continued to be a role-model for facing adversity and cherishing every precious day.

Bernie’s wife Margie has always played a key role in the business from support, to clothing and accessory buying and merchandising, to sales and customer service. Sons Jamie and Rob began working at the business from young ages, learning the skills of a furrier, buying locally produced furs, and of course the all-important side of customer service.


Continuing the Tradition

Jamie continued working with the family business and gained a deep level of fur skills at larger fur workshops in Toronto, eventually attaining the level of Master Furrier in 2009.

Rob left the family business to pursue other endeavours in the fur business, including international fur sales at North American Fur Auctions (formerly the Hudson’s Bay Fur Sales) from 1996-2003 as Sales Manager, and as Sr. Vice President of International Marketing from 2014-2020. In between, Rob was Executive Director of the Fur Institute of Canada (Ottawa) from 2003 to 2013 and Regional Vice-President (Americas) of the International Fur Federation.

Today, the spirit of our founder continues at Cahill’s with Rob running the business and Jamie playing a key role in fur design and craftsmanship. With Margie not far away, Cahill’s continues to offer a wide range of hand-crafted outerwear, accessories and lifestyle products with an emphasis on quality materials, exceptional craftsmanship, style and functionality, and unparalleled customer service.

From our family to yours,

The Cahill Family