Biography: Aris Alexanian
Aris Alexanian was a noted world traveller, prominent Armenian Canadian and business man who founded Alexanian Carpet and Flooring in the late 1920s.
Above:L to R- Aris circa 1940, Aris with Frank Ozanian in Egypt on a buying trip, Aris purchasing rugs in India
Little is known of Aris's early life. He was born in Turkey in 1901 and orphaned at an early age by the untimely death of both his parents. Eventually he was able to escape the country. He arrived in New York City in 1920, then moved to Canada in 1921.
In 1923, Aris moved to Georgetown, Ontario to become a teacher and assistant superintendent at a school and farm for Armenian orphans. The boys were victims of the Armenian Genocide. During this period Aris founded and organized the publishing of a monthly newsletter called "Ararat", which featured the art and writing of the orphan boys. The newsletter helped develop the English language skills of the boys. Aris was included as a character in a play set around the Georgetown orphanage. The play "The Georgetown Boys" was premiered at the John Elliot Theatre in Georgetown in 2008. Aris is also featured as a character in a children's book titled "Call Me Aram", and more recently portrayed as a character in a musical entitled "The Georgetown Boys: A Musical" performed at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts In April 2009. Aris Alexanian married Mary Boghosian, before moving to Hamilton. They had three sons, Aram, Armen and Albert.
Move to Hamilton, Ontario
Aris moved to Hamilton, Ontario in 1927 where he opened an oriental rug store, called Oriental Art Galleries. His first year sales were 64 dollars. He imported handmade carpets from around the world, and eventually travelled extensively in the Middle East purchasing carpets for his business.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Aris travelled extensively to the Middle East purchasing carpets. During this era, few people travelled to these exotic lands, so his trips were a source of local interest. His travels were often chronicled in The Hamilton Spectator. A map in the window of his downtown Hamilton store was used to trace his journeys. Upon his return from these travels he would often lecture the local community and church groups and showing photographs and films from his trips. By 1958, he claimed to have travelled 304,000 miles outside the country since the war. Aris was also an accomplished linguist and could speak six languages, which he used to his advantage for business negotiations in the more that 15 countries he visited during his travels.
Expanding the Carpet Business
Aris began to expand his carpet business in 1950, and opened a second store in Ottawa, Ontario. He also expanded the rug cleaning operation in Hamilton. In 1955, the company was incorporated under the name of Alexanian and Sons Limited.
Death of Aris Alexanian
Aris Alexanian died on June 27, 1961. The biography and obituary printed in the Hamilton Spectator announcing his passing described Aris as "one of Canada's leading rug importers and probably Hamilton's most widely travelled merchant".
Aris through his commitment to public service has inspired a long tradition of community involvement within his family and business. Alexanian Carpet and Flooring, has been a long time patron of the arts, in particular, theatre, music and opera. Albert is a member of the Ontario Arts Council, a volunteer executive with the Council for Business and the Arts in Canada and with the Canadian Association of Family Enterprises. Armen was honoured for nearly 50 years of service with the Kiwanis Club, and held numerous position in the organization, including President. He was an advisor to the University of Waterloo Circle K Club. Aram was a supporter of the Armenian Church of Canada, and a founding member of St. Mary Armenian Church in Hamilton.
In the news
Aram Alexanian battles Nazis with ink.
Aram Alexanian, the oldest son of our founder Aris was an active comic book artist before he joined the family business. He was featured in a recent article in the Hamilton Spectator. You can read about it here.
Here is an example of his work
Aris Alexanian Our Intrepid Founder. Aris Alexanian was a noted world traveller, prominent Armenian Canadian and business man who founded Alexanian Carpet and Flooring back in 1925. You can read his bio here
Or you can read the Wikipedia entry on him here
Alexanian's longest serving employee
Meet Guy Magakian! He has been with us for over 53 years and has recently retired. read more
. Guy worked in our Hamilton West location.