Wolf Shenkman, the founder of The Shenkman Group, emigrated from Russia to Canada in 1905. His first real estate project was the design and construction of a home for his family, which he later sold for a small profit. From these humble beginnings, Mr. Shenkman built a successful business of house and residential apartment building construction, as well as becoming a landlord in Ottawa.
Mr. Shenkman’s son Harold joined his father’s business at the age of 18. Harold Shenkman soon began to develop property in his own right. Throughout the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, he expanded the business exponentially through large-scale real estate development in Ottawa’s downtown and suburbs. The Shenkman Group has either owned or been involved in the development of many downtown properties including the Royal Bank building on Sparks Street, the Crowne Plaza Hotel, and Place de Ville.
Harold Shenkman altered his business strategy to suit the 1945 release of Jacques Greber’s urban planning recommendations for Ottawa. Mr. Shenkman noted that a key recommendation of the report was to create an east/west highway, the Queensway, through Ottawa. He took advantage of this opportunity to purchase thousands of acres of land adjacent to the proposed highway and also in the east and west ends of the city. These lands were ultimately sold or developed by Shenkman into notable properties such as Ottawa’s first shopping centre-Westgate, the Gloucester Shopping Centre, Gloucester City Centre, the Talisman Hotel (now Travelodge West), Sutton Place (a 500 unit condominium apartment development in Gloucester), The Sheffield Industrial Park, and satellite cities and subdivisions such as Kanata, Queenswood Heights, Pineglen, and Chapman Mills in Barrhaven.
Harold Shenkman’s son William joined his father’s business in 1970 and became actively involved as a developer and business operator. The Shenkman Group has owned and operated hotels, athletic clubs, storage facilities, parking lots, restaurants and general contracting businesses. The company is currently or has recently been involved in commercial and residential developments in Miami, Dallas, Rhode Island, Charlotte N.C., Phoenix, Minneapolis, Edmonton, Calgary and London, England.