Canada has long since been pigeon-holed as the perpetual underdog of its economically dynamic neighbour but when the global economic crisis hit, Canada’s smart and moderate approach won out. Recent figures reveal that Canada certainly need not suffer from an inferiority complex when it comes to comparing its productivity, innovation and economic success with that of the United States.
In recent years, the average Canadian net worth has grown to rival that of America. Although more instances of extreme wealth occur in the US, the general population of Canada is better off, with trends demonstrating that Canadian society is more egalitarian than the US. When it comes to attracting both local and foreign investment, the Canadian economy is looking good: According to Forbes, Canada is the 8th best country for business at the moment, with the US ranking 6 places lower at just 14th.
Canada’s major banks emerged from the 2008 financial crisis among the strongest in the world thanks to the financial sector’s tradition of conservative lending practices and strong capitalisation. As a result, Canada achieved growth in 2010-12 and hopes to balance the budget by 2015. Further boosting the nation’s wealth is the petroleum sector which is rapidly becoming a huge economic force for Canada (it’s currently ranked third worldwide after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in this sector).
The following list has been drawn up according to data provided by the Bloomberg billionaires list as well as recent figures from Forbes. Though lacking in female billionaires, the variety of sources of wealth on this list reveals that Canada is engaging in innovation in a vast variety of sectors – from pharmaceuticals to the media via e-commerce, finance and even cheese manufacturing.
10. Daryl Katz – $3.5 billion
Businessman Daryl Katz is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canada’s leading drug store operators: The Katz Group of Companies. Katz is a pharmacist’s son and bought numerous struggling drug stores during the 1990s with the view to reinvesting in them – today the business is made up of over 1,800 stores. He also owns Canada’s first mail-order pharmacy, Rexall Direct.
Katz owns the ice hockey team Edmonton Oilers. At the moment he is pursuing plans for a new Edmonton Oilers stadium development costing around $600 million, funded jointly by taxpayers, the city and the team. This arrangement has boosted the value of the NHL team by 78% on the previous year. Katz will own surrounding properties and land around the new stadium.
9. Clayton Riddell – $4 billion
From Calgary, Alberta, Clayton Riddell is a Canadian oil baron who has built up resources empire Paramount Resources over the past four decades. Today he is the Chairman and CEO of the company. Riddell set up his business in 1974, with near-barren natural gas wells. This early business is now his largest holding and has an estimated value of around $1.5 billion. Riddell is also a shareholder in several publicly traded Canadian energy companies.
8. Joseph Tsai – $4.1 billion
Taiwan-born Canadian Joseph Tsai is currently living in Hong Kong and working as Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group. Tsai holds a law degree from Yale and has proven himself to be a finance expert. He has only become a billionaire as of this year, with Alibaba taking off prosperously. Alibaba is a publicly traded group of Internet e-commerce businesses, including business-to-business online web portals, a shopping search engine, online retail and payment services, and data-centric cloud computing services. Alibaba held a record-setting initial public offering last month and raised the largest IPO ever for a US company: $21.8 billion. It is still early days for Alibaba and doubtless Tsai’s fortune will only increase as the business continues to expand.
7. Jacqueline Desmarais – $4.7 billion
Jacqueline Desmarais inherited her fortune from her late husband Paul Desmarais after he passed away in 2013. The couple have four children and Jacqueline oversees the family fortune with her sons Paul Jr and Andre, nominated as trustees of the Desmarais Family Residuary Trust. Paul Jr and Andre are co-CEOs of the Power Corporation,the publicly-traded financial services giant that their father built. The corporation includes the mutual fund company Putnam Investments, the insurance firm Great-Life Westco, as well as a stake in Chinese conglomerate CITIC Pacific. Jacqueline Desmarais is a music lover and created the Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation for young Canadian opera singers in 1997.
6. Emanuele Saputo – $5.1 billion
Italian-born Emanuele Sputo emigrated to Montreal as a teenager and today, he is a leading Canadian businessman. Taking after his cheesemaker father, Saputo is the founder and chairman of the Canadian cheese manufacturer Saputo, Inc. Saputo also owns an important share of the trucking company TransForce, and has invested extensively in real estate, forest products and golf courses. Saputo is a philanthropist and supports numerous hospitals based in Montreal. In 2006, he also contributed CAD$7.5 million for the construction of Montreal Impact’s new soccer stadium at the Olympic Park. Saputo was even given the honour of being made an Officer of the National Order of Quebec in 2011.
5. James Irving – $6.2 billion
James Irving is the eldest son of Kenneth Colin Irving. KC Irving was a Canadian entrepreneur of the 20th century and one of the world’s leading industrialists who stood at the head of the Irving Group. KC Irving shared the ownership and direction of the Irving Group companies between his three sons, one of whom is James. James is responsible for Brunswick News and JD Irving Limited (a conglomerate with interests in forestry, paper, kraft, building supplies, frozen food, shipping lines, shipbuilding and more). Living up to his father’s reputation, James Irving is regarded as a leading Canadian industrialist today: he has largely diversified Atlantic Canada’s largest private company with over 300 subsidiaries within the JDI group of companies. Known for his humble attitude, Irving advocates for a number of social causes and proves passionate about advancing his home province of New Brunswick.
4. Arthur Irving – $6.4 billion
Arthur Irving is James Irving’s younger brother. Family loyalty is very important to the Irvings and all companies within the Irving conglomerate are vertically integrated: they buy services and products from other companies so as to maintain profits within their operations. Arthur owns Irving Oil, its retail stores, oil refinery, oil tankers and distribution facilities. Since 1996, he has also been the Chancellor of Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. He is involved in establishing the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre at the University. He also is a member of Ducks Unlimited, an international non profit organisation dedicated to conserving wetlands and habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife.
3. Galen Weston – $6.8 billion
73 year-old Galen Weston is the Executive Chairman of George Weston Limited, a leading food processing and distribution company. Weston Foods is Canada’s largest bakery and distributor, based in Ontario. Weston also helped to build up Loblaws, his family’s grocery chain, contributing to turning it into Canada’s largest food retailer: Loblaws boasted a revenue of $30 billion in 2013. Weston also partly owns a series of luxury department stores in the United Kingdom including Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason thanks to his family’s closely held investment company, Wittington Investments.
2. Jim Pattison – $9.2 billion
Jim Pattison is a Canadian business magnate, owner of the Jim Pattison Group. Pattison paid his way through college by fixing up and selling cars to other students – and this interest in cars has fuelled his success. His conglomerate is based in Vancouver and is the biggest car dealer in western Canada. It controls around 50 percent of the North American wholesale periodical market, as well as a third of the Canadian canned seafood market. Pattison is known for his philanthropy; for example in 2013 he donated up to $5 million to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation to support the ‘Building Care Together’ campaign. He is also a trustee of Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
1. David Thomson – $24.4 billion
57 year-old Canadian media magnate David Thomson became the chairman of Thomson Corporation in 2006 after the death of his father Kenneth Thomson, who himself inherited the company from his father Roy Thomson. After acquiring Reuters in 2008, David Thomson became the chairman of the merged entity, Thomson Reuters. He is a graduate of Upper Canada College and of the University of Cambridge. After studying he started to work in companies owned by his family: He was made manager of The Bay store at Cloverdale Mall in Etobicoke and was the President of Zellers. He also founded his own real estate firm, Osmington Incorporated, which he built separately from the Thomson empire. Thomson. who has been married twice and was engaged to O.C. actress Kelly Rowan, keeps a low public profile, rarely speaking to the press. He is also an art enthusiast, and patron of the Art Gallery of Ontario.