The 10 wealthiest Canadians (and where their money came from)

By December 8, 2014Workplace trends
Workplace trends Man smoking a cigar and looking out at the evening skyline

Canadian Business recently released its 16th annual list of Canada’s Richest People 2015: The 25 Wealthiest Canadians. These are Canada’s richest as we head into the new year.

Spoiler: they have a whole lot more money than you (in case you’re one of them and you happen to be reading this, in which case, congratulations!).

Here’s a list of the top ten – which has changed almost not at all since last year – featuring brief explanations of where their fortunes came from – an array of ventures that includes publishing, real estate, grain and cheese (cheese, is there nothing it can’t do?).

10. Carlo Fidani (age 60)
$4.58 billion
Toronto
Major holdings: Orlando Corp.

“Third-generation construction magnate” Fidani is the owner of Orlando Corp., a construction, development and management business,,that began in 1948 as Fidani and Sons, founded by his grandfather and namesake.

9. Jeffrey Skoll (age 49)
$5.01 billion
Palo Alto, Calif.
Major holdings: eBay, Participant Media

Skoll is from Montreal but now lives in California. An engineer, and formerly the president of eBay, Skoll is a filmmaker and philanthropist. He will be producing Steven Spielberg’s next film, due out in October 2015.

8. Richardson Family
$5.05 billion
Winnipeg
Major holdings: James Richardson & Sons

A “one-man grain-merchandising operation,” founded in Kingston, Ont., in 1857, “is now a multi-enterprise international corporation comprising agriculture, food processing, oil and gas, property management and a private-equity arm.”

7. Desmarais Family
$5.58 billion
Montreal
Major holdings: Power Corp. of Canada

Paul Desmarais Sr., who passed away last year, quit law school in 1951 and took over his family’s struggling bus line, buying it for $1. After making it profitable again, he acquired Power Corp. in 1968. His sons how run the international financial services conglomerate.

6. Saputo Family
$6.24 billion
Montreal
Major holdings: Saputo, Transforce

Saputo Inc. was founded in 1954 by Guiseppe Saputo, an Italian immigrant. Now the world’s eighth largest dairy producer, Saputo is still best known for its production of the most delicious foodstuff of them all, cheese.

5. Rogers Family
$7.4 billion
Toronto
Major holdings: Rogers Communications

Edward and Melinda Rogers are not longer active VPs at the company that bears the family name, says Canadian Business. “But the family remains in control.” Rogers, of course, is a communications monolith. They recently launched Shomi, a streaming service and “Netflix competitor,” and announced a $100 million partnership with Vice Media.

4. James Pattison(age 86)
$7.88 billion
Vancouver
Major holdings: Jim Pattison Group

Pattison, B.C.’s richest man, started as a car salesman, and has apparently made his money from a diverse selection of companies that include Overwaitea supermarket group and Ocean Brands seafood. He also has his hands in broadcasting and owns the (amazing) Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto.

3. Irving Family
$8.23 billion
Saint John, N.B.
Major holdings: Irving Oil, J.D. Irving

The Irving family business started as a sawmill in New Brunswick, before branching out into “forestry, energy, media and shipbuilding.” Today they are big players in Canada’s crude oil industry. CB says, “But these days, the family is as famous for its feuds, which got a fresh injection of chatter with the release of a new book, Irving vs. Irving, in September.”

2. Galen Weston
$11.38 billion
Toronto
Major holdings: George Weston, Associated British Foods, Loblaw Cos., Selfridges, Holt Renfrew

Galen the Elder is the grandson of George Weston, founder of Loblaws, Canada’s largest food retailer. He’s also the chair of Holt Renfrew. His son Galen G. now runs the grocery stores while Galen the First “works on fostering a dynamic business community in Canada, supporting The Next 36, an incubator program for innovative young entrepreneurs.”

1. Thomson Family
$30.74 billion
Toronto
Major holdings: Thomson Reuters, Woodbridge Co.

Traditional publishing may be taking a hit but not a big enough one to knock these guys, whose main source of wealth is the publishing company Thompson Reuters, off the top of this list, where they’ve sat since it started 16 years ago. The money is apparently spread out between family members, among them, Canada’s richest woman Sherry Brydson, who is Roy Thomson’s granddaughter.

See the full list of Canada’s wealthiest here.

Related: What did the world’s top 10 billionaires study at university?

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