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A Tumultuous Advent

The Clifton Review

The Clifton Review is a tri-weekly column that examines the question of the Clifton project along with the evolution of the war between two billionaires. We covered the start of this war with articles describing the battle over easement rights, the mysterious burning of a home, the blocks to rebuilding, and countless questionable court filings.

The 2018 series salutes fashion mogul Peter Nygård’s Golden Jubilee detailing his rags to riches story and incredible business success over these past fifty years. The Clifton Review will take an inside look at how he did it.

A Tumultuous Advent

By P.J. Malone

How does one go from a poor boy to a multimillionaire as fashion mogul Peter Nygard did?

There are a number of factors that shape our lives, that help to determine our individual paths. For Peter John Nygård, it was no different. His path seemed preordained with early experiences that led to a life of astounding achievements.

The early days of Pekka Juhani, as Peter was named, were filled with the realities of war having entered the world on July 24th of 1941 Helsinki, Finland. As the sirens were blaring on the way home from the hospital, Pekka’s father, Eeli, had to take his young family directly into a bomb shelter. It was a new mother’s worse nightmare. Yet, despite being born in the midst of the turmoil of World War II with constant blasting of sirens and dashing to bomb shelters, Pekka Juhani knew a sense of security and protection. His mother Hilkka whispered loving words in his ear as they waited.

The war raged on around him as Pekka grew. At age three, a bomb blast shook the family’s apartment covering Pekka and his father with shattered glass while they were trying to make their way out the door to the bomb shelter. Following that incident Pekka and his two-year-old sister Liisa were whisked off to the Nygård family farm away from the frightful noises and scenes of war. Hilkka stayed with the children on the farm while Eeli remained in Helsinki working.

Pekka and Liisa enjoyed wonderful adventures on the farm frolicking about and spending time with their grandparents.

Competition:​A New Passion

After the family returned to Helsinki, Pekka encountered the single most driving force of his life: competition! Finland always prided itself on its sporting abilities. With the upcoming 1952 Summer Olympics taking place in Finland, special attention was placed on training, and preparations.

Given the Finnish culture’s emphasis on sports, it should be of no surprise that growing up in Finland meant engaging in various sporting activities and competing at different levels. It was a wonder to many that, despite the size of Finland’s population, Finland would consistently end up in the top five of the medal standings at various Olympic Games. Clearly, Finland’s focus on competition was paying off.

For Pekka, a new passion was born—a new love in his life to which he was determined to prove his merit. He gladly participated in sporting events as a young kid and earning first place was paramount.

That competitive spirit became ingrained in his character. As an ever-growing seed, it was to become the catalyst that spurred his rise in the new world.

A New Beginning

As was its history with Finland, Russia continued its attempts to control Finland and force its Communist ideals on this free land. After refusing to join the Communist party, and plagued by fears of a possible Communist Finland, Eeli sought to escape with his family. The decision was made. It was time to leave.

They sold everything they had to pay for their journey to a new life. That new life would be in Winnipeg Canada.

From the joys of sailing through the vast ocean, to the unavoidable sickness caused by an upheaving vessel, and from the thrilling train ride through curious scenery, to the discomfort of days spent on hard wooden benches, the journey to their new land was both exciting and difficult. Even the journey’s end did not signal the cessation of challenges for Eeli, Hilkka, Liisa and Peter John Nygård.

Challenged though they were, they were excited by the potential for a great new life in this new land.

Imagine beginning here and ending up at the top. How’d he do it? We’ll continue to explore to discover the secrets to Peter Nygård’s success.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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