Recognized as a one of Canada’s great business and community leaders today, Frank O’Dea’s life as a young man was characterized by Toronto’s Bowery district where he lived in flop houses that cost about 50 cents a night in the late sixties.
In 1968, when he was 23, armed with only the courage to hope for a better life, O’Dea began the long road back from a destitute and impoverished life of homelessness.
By 1974, he had run a successful political campaign for a local politician and launched a successful small business out of his home. A year later he co-founded The Second Cup, which would become the largest chain of gourmet coffees and teas in the country.
Building on that kind of success, O’Dea co-founded Proshred Security, a company that pioneered on-site document destruction. Soon that company was being franchised across North America and Europe. During this same period he helped found Samaritan Air, a company that operated air transportation for people undergoing medical treatment.
In 1985, O’Dea co-founded Street Kids International, an organization aimed at helping homeless children in the underdeveloped world overcome challenges through education and self-reliance programs. He was also the founding chair of War Child (Canada), an organization that provides assistance against child suffering from the tragedies of war. O’Dea, at the request of the Government of Canada, also helped to found the Canadian Landmine Foundation which raises funds to disarm and eliminate minefields around the world. He spearheaded that organization’s most successful campaign, called “Night of a Thousand Dinners”, which included 30,000 donors from 29 countries around the world.
Today O’Dea serves on the boards of a number of public and private companies, charitable and not-for-profit organizations. He is considered an authority in implementing improved governance models in an era that seeks better corporate accountability.
In May 2004, in recognition to his contribution to the social fabric of Canada on the national and international stage, O’Dea was named an Officer of the Order of Canada by Her Excellency, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.
Royal Roads University is bestowing this honorary degree in recognition of O’Dea’s achievement as an entrepreneur who leads by sharing with others and setting an example of corporate and individual social responsibility.