Canada’s Max Eden is a self-taught architect in Toronto. While that is impressive, more so is that Eden, 43, had to start sleeping under stairwells and under railway bridges starting at age 15, the Toronto Star reports. Eden decided to leave his adoptive mother’s home, quit school and wound up eating out of trash bins on more than one occasion.

“One winter I broke into a guy’s van every night and slept in it until I got caught,” he says. “You don’t know what cold is until you can’t even cry because it’s so cold.”

But Eden didn’t let hard times get him down. By 21, he had managed to end his roughly five-year ordeal with off-again, on-again homelessness. Since ending his life on the streets, Eden has owned a café, a small gallery and a printing business. He recently opened the Jam Spot, a place for musicians to practice in ideal conditions.

Now, Eden offers support to teen moms and urges people visiting the Jam Spot to donate to local food banks.

“Friends say, ‘Look at you now,’ ” he told the Toronto Star. “My brother says he now actually tells people that we’re brothers. He says he’s proud.”