A tribute to my father Nuri - By Agako Nouch

IN MEMORIAM Nuh (Nuri) Nuh

March 25, 1932 - March 24, 2021

Zoti Nuri’s story began in Chameria, Greece.

He was born on March 25th,1932 in the town of Spatar, near Filiates, the son of Zoti Haxhi Latif Nuh and Nakie Nuh.

We recently discovered how his name of Nuh (Nuri) was converted to “Nouch” on the Canadian passport.  The Greek passports in the 1960s and earlier all had the names written in Greek and also in French.  His name was converted in French to read “Nouch” on his passport. Nuri or Nuh is what his close friend called him. We will call my Dad Nuri for this tribute.  

Nuri had an older brother Mersin, and two sisters Hamida and Drita.

Mersin first moved to Australia and then lived the rest of his life in Turkey after 1975. Nuri’s sisters ended up in Canada.

Nuri’s father owned land in Spatar where they harvested wheat and olives, and also herded sheep. All of this was lost after the displacement of Chams from their homeland, where Nuri and his family were part of only 117 Chams left in the region.  As good fortune would have it, Nuri met Ismet in 1949 and 6 years later he married his beautiful “Vajza Chame”.  They have been married for 65 years. Nuri and Ismet have 3 children: Shane, born in Chameria; Nasmie, born in Turkey; and Agako, born in Ohiro.

Nuri also has 4 grandchildren: Sami, Gule, Nuh, and Leyla who all call him “Çeçi”.  Actually everyone calls him “Çeçi”. He is very proud of them and loves them dearly.

Nuri gave up the dream of staying in his homeland of Chameria and moved his family to Turkey in 1959 with only personal belongings. They could not get their Turkish citizenship, and soon returned to Greece with virtually nothing, to a city called Komotini.  Nuri’s entrepreneurial spirit blossomed in Komotini.  Within a few months of his arrival, he was running a restaurant, perhaps a foreshadowing of his future in Canada.

After a few years, Nuri left Komotini and settled in Ohiro, a small village in Northern Greece with a population of about 150 Turks.  Staying in Greece was not a long term option. In 1963 he left 3 kids, a wife, and his mother to come to Canada alone to see if a better life could be had.

When he first arrived in Canada, Nuri worked in restaurants without being able to speak a word of English.  His go-to restaurant for employment over the next 10 years on and off was a large chain in the 60’s and early 70’s called Honey Dew Coffee Shop.

While working, he also met an Albanian from Macedonia named Remzi Osmani.  27 years later Nuri and Remzi became in-laws when Agako married Remzi’s daughter, Anita. 

Nuri made 2 more trips back and forth to Greece. In 1969 he moved his entire family including his mother Nakie, to Canada, never to return to Greece again.

Nuri’s number one goal in life was to provide opportunities for his family. After 2 years in Canada, Nuri bought a restaurant, the Locarno, on Danforth Ave. at Main St.  He only had $500 dollars and asked the Royal Bank manager for a $2,000 dollar loan to complete the purchase. The bank manager obviously rejected the loan, so Nuri took him to the restaurant and convinced him to get the $2,000.

The restaurant was a success with the whole family contributing and Nuri working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Ismet worked full time at a factory and would come work at the restaurant after her shift.

Two years later, Nuri bought a 700 square foot bungalow, a mansion in our eyes, that was about a 10 minute walk from the restaurant so the family would not have to move anymore. The distance to the restaurant was a very strategic move, as Nuri has never owned a car in his life and has either walked for miles or taken public transport (except when he had his horse and tractor in Greece).

He purchased another restaurant 9 years later, the Flamingo on Danforth Ave, working18-hours days. He retired for a short time in 1985, only to buy another restaurant called the Ocean Harvest because he got bored.

All along, Nuri’s wife, Ismet worked at a factory to ensure there was always going to be enough cash to pay the bills at home no matter what.  

Nuri was forced to retire in 1995 after a stroke.  He left his passion as a restauranteur and took on an even greater one:  acting as tour guide and playmate of his grandchildren: Leyla and Nuh.  Nuri was inseparable from his grandchildren, often seen taking them on a double stroller on the TTC.

Nuri and Ismet were always caring for others. In the 90’s, they met many new comers from Albania and tried to help in any way they could, whether it was helping with immigration or helping with job searches.  They have true Compassion and Empathy towards all people, whether young or old.

Nuri and Ismet supported and participated in the community since their early days in Canada. They have made hundreds of friends and they have been happiest when they are with people, whether sharing a Tim Horton’s coffee or friends just stopping over for a visit at their home in North York.  Nuri had a very hard life, but with hard work, commitment, and family, he achieved his dreams in Canada. 

He enjoyed the last 25 years with family and friends the way he always wanted to.  This is evident these last few days with the outpouring of support, sympathy, and prayers by so many friends.  For that, our family remains forever in debt and gratitude to you all.

Nuri and Ismet never separated from their son Agako and his wife Anita, and lived together for his lifetime. A journey that will never be forgotten.

From the family, we are grateful to have had him as our patriarch, for his love and his guidance.  We have always loved him and will always love, remember, and respect him. We will live lives that are worthy of him. 

With greatest respect for our Dad and all of you, his friends!