John Rait is a fascinating man. As the owner of the Pentimento Fine Art Gallery on Queen Street East in Toronto’s Leslieville district, he is quickly becoming an influential force in the art scene in Toronto and beyond.

His story starts as a child of a single parent home in Toronto; raised by his father after his mother died when he was 7. John found himself at the rink where he started figure skating and quickly discovered that it was where he belonged. He pursued ice dance as an amateur and in 1980 became the World Professional Ice Dance champion with Shelley MacLeod. His professional skating career also included a stint as a performer on the Stars on Ice Variety Show. It was there where he learned about the production of a show and eventually moved into a successful casting career. From there he became a talent agent, a photographer and now art gallery owner.

Throughout John‘s life, caring for people and helping them succeed is a thread that ties all of his ventures together both personally and professionally.  A self-taught, passionate, generous and articulate man who is devoted to exploring art in its many forms makes him a compelling subject of this week’s Open Kwong Dore podcast episode.

Follow John on Twitter @Torontobear and check out the  Pentimento Fine art Gallery online at