Walter Zeller was born in Kitchener, Ontario. He was friendly and loved people, and his infectious nature was returned in kind by those who met him. He was short, strong-minded and very detail-oriented. In 1912, Walter Zeller started his first job at the retail giant, F.W. Woolworth Company. After decades learning the ropes of the retail “five-and-dime store” business, in 1931, Walter Zeller founded his own company, Zeller’s Limited, which grew to become a nation-wide chain of discount retail stores, offering affordable merchandise to Canadians. Walter Zeller dedicated most of his life to his business, working day and night to make Zeller’s one of the largest Canadian retail chains of his time. He played no sports, but he did spend time on his favourite hobby, his model electric train collection which took over most of his basement.
Walter Zeller founded the Montreal-based Zeller Family Foundation in 1950. The Foundation is dedicated to providing support to charitable organizations, in Quebec, and most notably in the Montreal region, contributing more than $18 million over the last 15 years to Canadian Society.