Beverly Mascoll | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Beverly Mascoll

Beverly Sharon Mascoll (née Ash), CM, entrepreneur, philanthropist, community leader (born 29 October 1941 in Fall River, NS; died 16 May 2001 in Toronto, ON). Mascoll was one of Canada’s notable women entrepreneurs, business owners, and community role models. She was the founder and president of Mascoll Beauty Supply Ltd., a Black beauty business that was both a distribution and retail company. She was one of the first Black women to be appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. (See also Black Canadians.)

Beverly Mascoll
Black business owner Beverly Mascoll in one of her stores, c. 1994.
(Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Early Life and Career

Beverly Mascoll was born in Fall River, Nova Scotia (see Halifax). She was one of four children to Gwendolyn and Arthur Ash, a Second World War veteran who later became a cement truck driver after the family relocated to Toronto in the late 1950s.

Mascoll attended Central Technical School and after high school graduation, she began working at Toronto Barber and Beauty Supply. Eventually, she became assistant to the president of the company, Nat Kaufman. In 1964, then-Beverly Ash married Emerson Mascoll, who was from Sydney, Nova Scotia. Together, they had one son, Eldon (b. 1970 –).

After becoming a mother, Mascoll was inspired to start her own business after noticing a gap in the market for hair and skin care products geared toward Black women. Before starting her business, which would later be incorporated as Beverly Mascoll Ltd., Mascoll would take trips to the nearest American city, such as Buffalo, New York, and buy Black beauty products to resell in Toronto and to test the market and verify demand. In 1970, after travelling to Chicago to meet with George E. Johnson, head of Johnson Products, the largest Black beauty supply company at the time, Beverly Mascoll Ltd. became the exclusive Canadian distributor of Johnson’s products in Canada. However, Mascoll could not get start-up support from any bank and was denied loans. Mascoll grew her business with $700 of her own money, operating out of the trunk of her car and her home. By the end of the decade, Mascoll was one of the leading distributors of Black beauty products in Canada.

Beauty Entrepreneurship

Beverly Mascoll grew her business into a nationally recognized company. In 1973, she opened her first store on 870 Bathurst Street, not far from where her family settled when they first arrived in Toronto, and in a neighbourhood euphemistically known as “Blackhurst” for the number of Black-owned businesses that lined the streets of the community in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mascoll eventually expanded her business to include beauty demonstrations, conferences, and professional hair-care seminars. In 1984, she held one of the first Black beauty trade shows in Canada. By the 1990s, she was still a beauty product distributor, but she turned her focus more to retail. Known as Mascoll Beauty Supply, there were as many as five locations open at the same time.

Beverly Mascoll
Beverly Mascoll standing near a display of beauty products, c. 1991.
(Keith Beaty/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

At its peak, Mascoll Beauty Supply Ltd. carried over 3,000 beauty care products for every segment of the hair-care and facial-care product market. The company grew into a multi-million-dollar company, distributing to 350 hairdressers and retailers across Canada. The company also supplied Black beauty products to Canada’s leading department stores, such as Eaton’s, Simpsons, and other major retailers across the country.

Community Work

In addition to managing a successful business, Beverly Mascoll contributed to various organizations and community initiatives. She was vice-president of the Canadian Club of Toronto, trustee for the Harry Jerome Scholarship fund and a director of the Ontario Science Centre. She also established the Beverly Mascoll Community Foundation in 1996 to assist the development of youth, women and racial minorities. The foundation supported Black community organizations, such as Camp Jumoke (a camp for children with sickle-cell anemia).

Mascoll’s vision to give back to her community culminated with fundraising efforts that eventually led to the establishment of Canada’s first Black Canadian Studies program at Dalhousie University (now known as Black and African Diaspora Studies). (See also Immigrant Diasporas in Canada.)

Later Life

In 2000, Beverly Mascoll received her Bachelor of Arts degree from York University, in Women’s Studies.

Death and Posthumous Honours

In 2001, at the age of 59, Beverly Mascoll died of breast cancer at Sunnybrook Hospital. Her funeral was attended by over 1,000 people. There were numerous media tributes to Mascoll, such as in Share, a Black newspaper that services the GTA’s Caribbean community, which printed an obituary in her honour on 31 May 2001. After Mascoll Beauty Supply was sold, her memory lived on through posthumous recognition.

In 2019, Ryerson University (as of 2022 Toronto Metropolitan University) presented the inaugural Alumni Award (named that year after Beverly Mascoll) at the 11th Annual Viola Desmond Awards. (See also Viola Desmond.) The award was presented by her son, Eldon Mascoll. In 2024, the Honourable Mayann Francis presented a speech written by Beverly Mascoll during the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame Induction Gala. Mascoll was honoured as the 2023 Laureate Inductee.


On 9 July 2021, Heritage Toronto unveiled a plaque commemorating the life of Beverly Mascoll located at 819 Bathurst Street, just outside Bathurst subway station. “My company is filling a void and filling a niche in the market,” said Mascoll in an interview following her appointment to the Order of Canada. Today, Beverly Mascoll’s story continues to inspire generations of Black Canadians to pursue entrepreneurship, community work and philanthropy.

Beverly Mascoll receiving the Order of Canada, Ottawa, 22 October 1998.

Honours and Awards

In recognition of her business achievements and advocacy for the Black community, Beverly Mascoll was the recipient of numerous awards and honours:

Further Reading

External Links