Founder, Baylis Medical Company / Registered Nurse (Retired), Westmount, QC. Born: Barbados.
Gloria Baylis, a native of Barbados, emigrated to Canada in 1952. As a registered nurse (trained in England and accredited in Canada), Gloria first attracted public attention in 1964. She applied for a nursing position at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal (then operated by the Hilton chain), and was informed, contrary to fact, that all of the nursing positions were filled. Despite her undeniable qualifications, she was refused employment because she was Black.
Deeply outraged by this obvious injustice, Gloria enlisted the support of the Negro Citizenship Association and filed a complaint with the Minimum Wage Commission. A high profile court case against the Queen Elizabeth Hotel was launched alleging employment discrimination on the basis of race. In court, Gloria Baylis was called to testify that she was a “Negro”.
In October 1965, in the first case of its kind, Hilton of Canada was convicted of “illegally and knowingly refusing employment to Mrs. Gloria Clarke Baylis, committing thereby an offence provided by the Discrimination Act of 1964.” This Act was the first piece of legislation in Canada that defined discrimination and made explicit reference to exclusion or preference on the basis of race. Hilton Canada was fined the minimum $25.00 and costs (the maximum fine at the time was $100). For the next eleven years, the Queen Elizabeth Hotel appealed the decision seeking to have the conviction quashed. In 1977, the original conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeal. This decision stands as a moral victory for all Black people in Canada, and is a testament to Gloria’s tenacity and willingness to stand up for her rights regardless of the circumstances.
By the time the Court of Appeal rendered its decision, Gloria had moved with her husband Richard and their four children to Toronto where she continued to work as a nurse (her eldest, Françoise Baylis, is also profiled on Who’s Who in Black Canada.com). Years later, in 1983, Gloria founded Baylis Medical Company (BMC). Initially working from a home office, the company imported and distributed a range of medical products with a focus on devices (including catheters) for neurosurgery. With time and much hard work, the small distribution company became a leading developer and manufacturer of high-technology medical products in cardiology and pain management serving an international market.
In recognition of her entrepreneurial accomplishments, Gloria Baylis was awarded the 1999 Jackie Robinson award for the Business Person of the Year by the (MABBPP). Gloria Baylis retired from active participation in the business in 2004. She remains a member of the Board of Directors.
Favourite quotes? 1) The Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” 2) “Cast thy bread upon the water, it will return a hundred fold.”
Given the chance, what would you love to do that you haven’t done yet? Travel through Europe and relive my youth.
Who inspires you? My mother.
Why do you do what you? I try to help people. It is what I have done all my life.