York Region McDonald’s Owner/Operator, Peter Miller, believes that if you can help some people along the way in life, “that’s the most important thing.”

Becoming a McDonald’s franchisee is only the second job Owner/Operator Peter Miller has had since graduating university, but he’s been doing it for 48 years. 

Peter always knew he wanted to be his own boss and had given some serious thought to what he could do on his own before deciding on McDonald’s in the mid-1970s. At the time, there were only a few McDonald’s restaurants in Canada, and Peter remembers often reading about McDonald’s in the New York Times Sunday Edition. 

“I thought, boy, this seems pretty exciting,” he recalls. “I’m from Nova Scotia, and I had to travel across the border to the state of Maine to see a McDonald’s Restaurant.” 

He applied to become a franchisee and ended up taking over a corporate restaurant in Richmond Hill, Ontario, at 29 years of age. Today, Peter owns 15 restaurants in York Region and one in North Toronto.  

Peter has been involved with RMHC Toronto since its inception, and was on the Board of Directors of our first House on Dundas St.  

painting of a two-story brick house
The first RMHC Toronto House was located at 365 Dundas Street West. The Dundas House had 19 bedrooms for families with a child receiving cancer treatment at a hospital in Toronto.

At the time, board meetings were held in a room at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).  

“I would go to the hospital for these meetings, and see the kids there,” remembers Peter, “and then when I got home, it would be late at night. My kids would be sleeping, they were just four or five, little babies, and I would just bawl. You just felt connected to the kids and their families. Anybody who works in healthcare feels those things. I felt bad for all these other kids who were struggling. I felt honoured and thankful that my kids were okay.”  

Since its inception 40 years ago, Peter has watched RMHC Toronto, and other Chapters around the world, grow exponentially. For someone who has been there since the beginning, he describes the experience as ‘exciting.’ 

To get the Toronto House off the ground and build the first House back in 1981, it was a big deal. Then to see other RMHC Chapters open, it’s been a real experience. The heartache and love that happens at RMHC Toronto, those are the big important things.

– Peter

Peter’s wife, Rochelle, is also very involved with RMHC Toronto, and dedicates her time as a volunteer at the RMHC Toronto Family Room at SickKids.   

“Rochelle would come home and either say, I don’t want to talk about it, but it was a tough day, or it was a wonderful day because a family thanked her. The emotional part is huge. Over the years I have never questioned, is it worthwhile, or is there need. In my opinion, if you can help some people along the way in life, that’s the most important thing. I’m happy to help.” 

Peter grew up in a family with strong philanthropic values and was taught from a young age that you help people because you have the ability, the finances, or the time. His parents were very involved in the local synagogue in Sydney, Nova Scotia, as well as other charitable organizations. “I was raised to believe that it’s important to do good things, to help others, and do it quietly. In the Jewish religion the highest form of giving is giving anonymously. You just do it because it’s the right thing to do.” 

Peter and Rochelle’s philanthropy, as well as the fundraising efforts of their staff and crew, have provided foundational support to our mission from the very first day our doors opened. Our heartfelt thanks goes out to them for their ongoing commitment to keeping families with seriously ill children together.  

To find out more about the incredible support of our Owner/Operator community, visit Our McDonald’s Relationship.