Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Who Are The Richest Canadians And How Did They Make Their Fortunes?

By Jamie Carlton

Mitchell Goldhar – $2.38 billion

Ever heard of Smart REIT? We doubt it, but this real-estate company was recently sold to Colloway REIT investment trust for a sizeable $1.16 billion. The smartest part about it? Mitchell Goldhar made a fortune in the sale, but already had a 21% share in the investment trust he sold it to. Not content to make his billions through real-estate, Goldhar owns Maccabi Tel Aviv Football Club and also helped bring retail giants Walmart to Canada.

mitchell goldhar

Jack Cowin – $2.48 billion

The real Colonel Sanders, Jack Cowin is the face behind Kentucky Fried Chicken, better known as KFC, as well as other restaurant giants such as Hungry Jack’s. Not content with making his fortune on this side of the world, the tycoon is looking to make his mark in Asia in the next few years. A savvy investment into pizza chain Domino’s down under made him a lot of his fortune, as the brands franchise rights ended up doubling the value of the company.

jack cowin

Charles Bronfman – $2.52 billion

Some people make their millions through luck, and others through sheer hard work. Family Bronfman is definitely in the latter category. The Bronfman money comes partly from Charles’ father, who owned Seagram Spirits, the largest alcohol distillery in the world. The other part comes from the merger with Vivendi SA, worth $50-billion. Charles has a private equity business with his son Stephen, and a recent collaboration with Ivanhoe Cambridge was worth $100 million alone, and led to new developments in the Montreal area.

charles bronfman

Jean Coutu – $2.7 billion

You don’t need to be a genius to work out where Coutu made his fortune, in the drugstore chain which was named for him. He started out managing the company Parmacie Leduc, but was not allowed to progress the way he wanted, to be an associate of the company. After this, he launched Farmaterias, which was a discount pharmacy. It’s a good job that the Jean Coutu discount pharmacies became such a sensational success, as Jean used every bit of his money to start it in 1969.

jean coutu

Peter Gilgan – $2.71 billion

Mattamy homes is the Gilgan business, and it seems to be going from strength to strength. They recently announced an increase of 1,650 lots in Orlando Florida, which will make over 70,000 homes throughout the US and Canada since they began 40 years ago. Recently, they are moving away from rural developments and more into the urban, establishing new offices in the center of Toronto’s financial district, on the 55th floor of the TD Center towers, as well as by buying Monarch Corp.

peter gilgan

Alexander Schnaider – $2.85 billion

Schnaider was born in Russia, and owns Talon International, a successful property development company. His business is mainly centered around real-estate, building a famous Toronto hotel, known as Trump Tower. His own Toronto home was sold for $22,000,000. Another entry on our list with a connection to Maccabi Tel Aviv, he also owned the team for a time. True to his roots, he has some interests in steel in post-soviet Russia, using the money he made there to increase his real-estate holdings around the US, Canada, and Russia itself.

Alexander Schnaider

Apostolopoulos Family – $2.87 billion

The Apostolopoulos family are led by billionaire businessman Andreas, who is known for buying the Silverdrome in Michigan, as well as many other real-estate holdings. The family made their fortune in redevelopment and real-estate, buying industrial properties and transforming them into income-producing assets. This is a story of a real ‘self-made man’, as Apostolopoulos came to Canada from Greece in 1969, and began as a labourer and a janitor, working his way up through small service and manufacturing, before entering commercial real-estate.

Apostolopoulos Family

Dennis ‘Chip’ Wilson – $2.92 billion

Wilson has made his fortune through Lululemon, the famous yoga company. Although he stepped down as CEO in 2012, and left the board in 2015, the company certainly wouldn’t have risen to such great heights without him. He was responsible for building their manifesto, including within it taglines such as “do one thing every day which scares you.” Dennis and his wife Shannon are very involved in charity, including Imagine1day, dedicated to improving education in Ethiopia.

dennis wilson

Gerry Schwartz & Heather Reisman – $2.93 billion

The first married couple on our list of Canada’s richest, Gerry Schwarts is the CEO and founder of Onex Corporation, while his wife Heather Reisman is Chief Executive of Indigo Books and Music. The couple got married in 1982, and now live in what’s widely known to be the most expensive house in Toronto, worth $28 million. Some of Schwartz’s most savvy business decisions include buying the IP division of Thomson Reuters for $3.5 billion, as well as Save-a lot, for $1.37 billion.

Gerry Schwartz & Heather Reisman


N. Murray Edwards – $2.96 billion

Norman Murray Edwards, is simply known as Murray, and he holds most of his fortune in Canadian oil sands. As well as this, he co-owns the Calgary Flames, a Canadian hockey team. His most famous holdings are Ensign Energy Services Inc as well as Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. Edwards has had some controversy over his business dealings, with his move to the UK sparking rumors that he was trying to avoid paying taxes. He has always denied these rumors vehemently, citing personal reasons for his move.

murray edwards

Frank Stronach – $3.04 billion

Breaching the $3 billion mark, Frank Stronach owes his fortune to Magna International, the auto-parts manufacturer. He is also known for projects such as his grass-fed cattle sideline in Florida. Magna International was famous for paying some of their pre-tax profits to their own staff yearly, in an endeavor to be more productive. Leading global automotive supplier Magna bought his company for $870 million, but Stronach still consults for them in some capacity.

Frank Stronach

Lalji Family – $3.07 billion

This is one family who have fingers in a whole lot of pies. Amin and Mansoor Lalji have ownership positions in the J.W Marriot Las Vegas resort, as well as the Rampart Casino. Theur brother Shiraz Lalji is connected to Oakdene Dinance Ltd, which is based in the Virgin Islands. Over in Canada, the family own the Park Royal Shopping Centre in West Vancouver, as well as Maple-Lee self-storage network and the famous Fairmont Hotel, too.

lalji family

Fred And Ron Mannix – $3.17 billion

It’s fun to share billionaire status with your siblings, even more so if you helped each other build the empire in the first place! The Mannix brothers are responsible for the Mancal Group, which hasinterests in energy, mining and real-estate. They come from wealthy family, their grandfather being Frederic S Mannix and their father, Frederic C Mannix. The brothers are known for their philanthropy, donating $10,000,000 to the National Music Center in Calgary and $1,000,000 to Canada’s National Gallery.

fred and ron mannix

Michael Lee-Chin – $3.26 billion

Here’s another self-made man to add to our list, as Michael Lee-Chin started out bottom of the ladder on a cruise ship, cleaning the engine room. It’s hard to believe that he now has his own yacht, as well as whatever money can buy. His company is Portland Holdings, which has the largest IPO of regular shares throughout the Jamaica Stock Exchange. One of his largest investments is into the Jamaican National Bank, for $560 million dollars.

Michael Lee-Chin

Mark Scheinberg – $3.31 billion

Have you heard of PokerStars? Anyone who knows anything about the online gambling industry knows that the Scheinbergs were pioneers in the industry, creating the PokerStars website, expanding it into one of the premier online gaming websites online, and then selling it on to Amaya Gaming for a neat $4.9 billion. While the company was originally Isai Scheinbergs, his son Mark was responsible for the expansion, helping him climb our list of richest Canadians.

Mark Scheinberg

David Cheriton – $3.33 billion

You might be able to describe Cheriton as a dot com billionaire, as much of his money has been made from investing wisely in technology startups, most notably Google.com! He also has a large holding in Arista Networks. No doubt using some of this money, he has helped found Apsta, where he is currently Head Scientist, working on a system which manages network devices coming from multiple vendors. He was born in Canada and known for being a computer science professor at Stanford.

David Cheriton

Aquilini Family – $3.34 billion

The Aquilini Investment Group is managed by Francesco Aquilini. The company is best known for owning the Vancouver Canucks as well as Rogers Arena. Patriarch of the family, Luigi Aquilini is still alive and involved in decision making for the company, too. Francesco’s brothers Roberto and Paolo also sit as Managing Directors. It’s not all business for the Aquilini family however, as they are known for their philanthropy, supporting land conservation, children’s hospitals, and general social and recreational initiatives.


Bob Gaglardi – $3.55 billion

You may not have heard of Northland properties, but you’ve probably heard of Moxie’s! There are more than sixty Moxie locations around Canada,and the Gaglardi’s have recently begun expanding into America, too. The popular restaurant can now be found in Dallas, Texas, and another one is being planned in Houston. Bob runs the company with his son, Tom, and they also own the hockey team the Dallas Stars. Sounds like they love themselves a bit of Texan charm!

bob gaglardi

Harrison McCain Family – $3.71 billion

The McCain family has come a long long way since it began in 1956. The family needed financial assistance from the New Brunswick government, and only had enough money to employ 3 employees. Nowadays, the McCain Foods business has 55 factories around the globe, and their name is synonymous with delicious French fries and other frozen foods. With their business growth, the entire area of Florenceville even became more wealthy, right along with them.

harrison mccain

Daryl Katz – $4.05 billion

Katz is the founder and the chairman of the Katz Group, which has operations in wide ranging business fields, such as sports, entertainment and medicine. The group owns the Edmonton Oilers, as well as taking the lead on the development of Rogers Place. Katz is also known for his philanthropy, giving the largest recorded donation in history to the University of Alberta Pharmaceutical department, $7,000,000 which was matched by the province.

daryl katz

Alain Bouchard – $4.34 billion

Bouchard had a tough childhood, as his father’s business went bankrupt while he was a boy. After this, the family needed to move into a motor home, which likely fuelled Alain’s drive to make something of himself in the business world. He started as a stock boy at the age of 19, eventually moving on to found Alimentation Couche Tard in 1980. He turned this business from one convenience store to more than 12,500 around the globe.

alain bouchard

Richard Li – $4.44 billion

Richard Li comes from a family of businessmen, as his father was Li Ka Shing, and his brother is Victor Li. He was born in Hong Kong, but moved to America at the age of 13, working part time in McDonalds and as a golf course caddy to earn money. He attended Stanford University, and is now chairman of PCCW, as well as many other holdings. His main business interests are in telecommunications. He is known for setting up video conferencing for SARS victims during the 2002/2003 outbreak.

richard li

Bernard ‘Barry’ Sherman – $4.62 billion

Sherman is the Chairman and CEO of Apotex Inc. The company is the largest producer of generic drugs in the whole of Canada. Barry had a degree in astrophysics as well as a doctorate from MIT, and is known to be extremely intelligent. His first business decision was buying the Empire Group of Companies after his aunt and uncle died in 1967, which led to a lawsuit from the estate of their children which was still ongoing in 2012. He has famously donated $50 million to the United Jewish Appeal.

bernard sherman

Azrieli family – $4.74 billion

The family fortune was made by David Azrieli, but since he died in 2014, his wealth has spread throughout his family, notably his daughters, Naomi and Danna Azrieli. Naomi is the chair of CanPro investments, which manages real-estate development locally in Montreal, and Danna is the chair of the Tel Aviv Azrieli group, which anyone who has visited Israel will know has 15 shopping malls throughout the country.

david and naomi azrieli

Carlo Fidani – $4.86 billion

Fidani’s financial security is well entrenched in his family, as he is the third generation construction owner, and now one of Canada’s most successful landlords. He owns and rents industrial and commercial properties alike. One of his most famous endeavors is the sale of Toronto’s Bayview Village. The shopping complex gave him a cash influx of $500 million. Also known as a philanthropist, he has given millions of dollars to cancer research, as well as hospitals in the Toronto area. Fun fact? Fidani is a huge NASCAR fan!

carlo fidani

Jeff Skoll – $5.51 billion

Leaping over the 5 billion dollar mark, the next entry on our list is Jeff Skoll. He owns Participant Media, which is known for the Best Picture award winning movie, Spotlight. They also have their fair share of nominations and awards for other Academy Awards. Skoll has worked with award winning directors such as Stephen Spielberg. The pair founded their production company Amblin Partners, which has worked on successful movies like the BFG and The Girl on the Train.

jeff skoll

Jimmy Pattison – $5.74 billion

Jim Pattison is a real business magnate in the truest sense of the word, as the sole owner of the Jim Pattison Group. This group is the second largest privately owned company in all of Canada. A salesman at heart, Jim managed to open his first business, a Pontiac dealership by convincing the bank to lend him eight times the branch limit. His business reach now is extremely far, encompassing grocery stores, radio and TV stations, as well as the Vancouver Blazers hockey team.

jimmy pattison

Richardson family – $5.95 billion

Far be it from us to question the business process of a company which has been going strong for 159 years, but it does seem a little strange that the Richardson family are going from strength to strength. They went into financial services during the great depression, bought into grain handling during a drought, and bought a $1 billion pipeline system in response to weak oil prices! Richardson International is one of the oldest and largest businesses in the whole of Canada, with over 2,500 employees.

richardson family

Demarais Family – $6.71 billion

Jumping in the rankings only one spot, but almost a billion dollars, the Demarais family lost their Patriarch in 2013, Paul Demarais. While we’re sure they grieved heavily, the family hasn’t stopped business by any means. In fact, they opened a new unit in Montreal’s pediatric hospital named for Paul’s wife Jacqueline. The family are known for their philanthropy, donating $12 million to the same hospital, as well as millions to the University of Montreal and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

paul demerais

Irving Family – $7.65 billion

You’ve probably heard of Irving oil, which is where this family made their fortune. They had a large role in the Energy East pipeline, which was worth $15.7 billion. The idea is for this pipeline to carry more than a million barrels of oil to Saint John from Alberta every single day. The oil will be processed at their own refinery, in part. The Irving’s are also known for their philanthropy, donating $80 million to build the Arthur L Irving Institute which trains students in energy and industry for the future of the planet and sustainability.

irving family

Joseph Tsai – $8.27 billion

Jack Ma is the founder of Alibaba, and Joseph Tsai is his business partner, as well as the co-founder and executive vice chairman of the group. He was born in Taiwan, and then moved abroad to study in Yale, where he achieved his undergraduate and legal degrees. He is married to Clara Ming-Hau Wu who is the granddaughter of the former mayor of Taipei City. She also studied abroad, and is a graduate of Stanford University, as well as holding an MBA from Harvard Business School. What a power couple!

joseph tsai

Rogers Family – $9.13 billion

Rogers Communications Inc is famous and wealthy for their communications and media holdings. They are headquartered in Toronto, and were founded in 1960 as Rogers Radio Broadcasting Ltd. Ted Rogers died in 2008, and control of the company went to a trust. The trust is served by Ted’s daughter Melinda and his son Edward, as Vice Chair and Chair. Rogers is known for Rogers Cable, Canada’s largest cable TV service provider, as well as Rogers Publishing Ltd, Canada’s largest publishing company, with more than 70 publications.

rogers family

Saputo Family – $10.61 billion

Not content with making their mark in Canada, the Saputo family are one of the top 10 producers of dairy products the world over. The company was founded by Lion Saputo, and is now worth $16 billion. They sell all kinds of dairy products under a number of names in different countries, and are constantly growing, breaking records and taking risks to increase their holdings. They are currently the largest producer of cheese in Canada, and the third-largest in the US and Argentina.

saputo family

Galen Weston Jr – $13.22 billion

This Galen Weston is the son of Willard Gordon Galen Weston, and is often known as Galen Weston Jr. He is the executive CEO, and chairman of Loblaw Companies Ltd, which belonged to his father. Although he moved to Canada when he was a child, Galen was actually born in Dublin, Ireland. He went to Harvard, and Columbia universities. Loblaw Companies Ltd is a retailer, founded in 1956, which has more than 1,000 corporate and franchise supermarkets, and has 136,000 employees.

galen weston jr

Thomson Family – $39.13 billion

The Thomson family own Thomson Reuters, the business which makes them top of Canada’s wealthiest list by more than $25 billion. Their media and publishing empire is run by David Thompson, who has been Chairman since 2008, when the Thomson Corporation merged with Reuters. The holding company the family own is called Woodbridge, and David and his brother Peter are at the very top of the hierarchy. As well as Thomson Reuters, the company has shares of HIS, and Strategic Hotels and Resorts.

david thomson richest canadian