He had a vision. He was rooted by family and community values. He was dashingly attractive. He was meticulous. He cared eternally. He was (eventually) retrospective. He stayed the course and focussed on the business of getting the job done.
Emil Pidutti arrived in Barrie in 1984. He looked at a large parcel of land that was mostly rock, swamp, cedar, and two insulbrick houses. The property bordered Highway 400 at Dunlop St. He developed Cedar Pte Business Park. It was an unusual commercial/industrial development for its day… clusters of buildings surrounded by attractive shade trees, picnic tables, benches and landscaping, with clusters of parking to accommodate the customers of tenants.
The Pidutti family was a well respected builder in Sudbury and things were slow in Sudbury so Emil brought the family business name south to Barrie.
He hooked up with the talented Ian Malcolm, architect, and began the first of several building projects which will bless this city for decades to come.
He built cluster rental housing at the top of Cedar Pte, beautifully landscaped and cared for buildings that became home to many people. He built an eight story apartment building at Rose and Duckworth St. He built a condo building that is loved by its tenants at 6 Bayfield. He built the Flamenco on the waterfront on Dunlop at Kempenfelt Dr. He built well. He built quickly. And people noticed.
He bought more swampland on Wellington St, bordering Hwy 400, across from the medical building and created the prestigious 126, 140 Wellington buildings… beautifully appointed business buildings that people love to work in.
And then when Barrie burst at its seams, doubling its population in less than a decade, Emil’s vision and Ian’s creativity captured Bryne Dr and Commerce Park Dr.
“In all, I designed over 100 buildings for Emil,” says Malcolm, looking back on their 30-year relationship. He notes that Emil’s childhood days in Sudbury saw his mom doing hairdressing in the family living room while his dad started a small construction company, Lorne Properties. Emil began his professional life as a hairdresser, winning competitions and reputations before he was 21. As a teenager, his father had him straightening nails and cleaning up job sites.
“I’m an architect and I like to design great buildings. Emil liked to get things done and every building had to pay for itself. But he was prepared to build a quality building, to put more into it than others might.”
Excellence… the true pursuit of excellence in whatever endeavour he’s leaning into… is certainly Emil’s primary character trait, says Malcolm.
Former mayor Janice Laking backs that up. She worked with Emil even before she was mayor and says he was an exemplary builder, contributor to Barrie’s economy.
“He gave to the city everything he was required to do without any discussion. He was able to negotiate with you if there were other things that were reasonable. I used to get a lot of complaint calls from people about landlords. But Emil’s tenants loved him and knew how lucky they were.”
Laking also comments on his corporate generosity to community charities.
“He had good architects, good groundskeepers, good engineers. He was the magician at the top that pulled all those strings.”
Gary Calvert had a number of roles at City Hall until his retirement, acting as CAO as well as heading up Economic Development for some time. In both capacities he and Emil Pidutti came onto each other’s radar. They subsequently became good friends, meeting weekly at Sigrid’s Bakery for coffee.
“I could shake his hand and we’d have a deal. One time he bet me that he’d have all of Commerce Park built out before the city even started on the extension of Veterans Dr. He did it.”
Until he got sick six years ago, Emil was immersed in his business activities, building in Toronto, back in Sudbury, and points in between.
He was also parent to daughters Angela and Sarah. Angela owns the popular Cravings Fine Food and brings her father’s passion for excellence into her workday. Sarah lives in the west and pursues alternative medicine.
In typical fashion, Emil devoted energies and financial resources to seek the best alternative medicine in the world as prostate cancer began to sideline his work activities.
It was a six year marathon. It ended on June 11 as he left his south end home for the last time and died at Health Sciences North in Sudbury.
While his sister Maria continued to run the Sudbury operations for the company, Emil stayed in control in Barrie until his health had him turn over day to day operations to Maria, too. She’s a capable manager with the Pidutti principles behind her.
We’ve lost a man who stayed true to himself. He was enigmatic, dynamic, had driving energy. He kept his word.
His passing is a true loss to us all. Thanks, Emil.