Success hinges on education, Rudy Bratty tells LAPS graduands

Solicitor and developer Rudy Bratty told graduands of York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LAPS) that success hinges on education.

Rudy Bratty delivers a speech during convocation after receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws

Bratty was the recipient of an honorary degree, Doctor of Laws, during the third fall convocation ceremony on Oct. 18, and the first of two convocations for LAPS.

Born in 1932 in Toronto, and raised by Italian immigrants, Bratty shared his own journey of education, and the advice from his father that led him on a path of lifelong learning.

“I suppose it all started about 70 years ago when I finished high school,” he said.  “I told my dad that I wanted to build houses and be a developer and be a small builder, and he said ‘no’, in his broken English … he said ‘you go school’. I said, ‘Dad, I want to be a builder’, and he said ‘you go school’.

“So, I had two choices: I go to school or I go to school.”

He went to school, earned a bachelor’s degree, and went back to his father for advice. He told him, again, how he wanted to be a developer. His father told him, again, “you go school.”

Chancellor Greg Sorbara, Rudy Bratty and President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton

At that time, Bratty recalls having more “acceptance about going to school”. His father suggested he become a professional – a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant – and use his Italian background to help the huge wave of immigrants coming over from Europe at that time.

“So I became a lawyer,” he said, and obtained his law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School before being called to the bar in 1957. Eventually, he was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1970.

“Interestingly enough, it is 60 years now that I’ve been a lawyer. My firm still exists, we busy as heck … and I’m extremely proud of it.”

“Education is so important,” he said during the convocation ceremony. “Education breeds intelligence, intelligence breeds understanding and understanding breeds resolution.”

He also expressed deep gratitude to York University for the honorary degree, saying he would “serve its purpose well”.

Bratty is referred to as ‘The Man Who Built Toronto’, and his name is synonymous with real estate development in Southern Ontario and indeed throughout Canada. He is also a notable philanthropist, and has supported Toronto’s cultural communities for decades.