The wealthiest families in Canada is a list that shows us what happens when we make concentrated efforts to save money, and turn it into a vehicle to create wealth. these are families that have invested their money into wealth creation, rather than spend it all on luxuries that provide only short term enjoyment.
From media magnates, oil and gas people, food and retail businessmen, and dairy makers, this list is full of inspiring stories of people who built formidable businesses from scratch, even with loans, and then handed these businesses to the next generation of their family members.
The richest families in Canada are old money on display; old money that traces its lines to several countries and traditions but all of which proudly fly the Canadian flag. Discover these money bags in the paragraphs below.
Top 10 Richest Families in Canada
1. The Thomson Family
The Thomson family is an Aristocratic Canadian family with British roots. It is the richest family in Canada, and also one of the richest families in the world. The family is currently led by David Thomson; Officially Baron Thomson of Fleet- a British title he inherited from his father. According to Canadian Business magazine, the Thomson family is worth over $41 billion. David Thomson also inherited the Thomson Corporation from his father and then turned the family business into media giant Thomson Reuters.
2. The Weston Family
The Weston family is next on this list of the richest families in Canada, they are another wealthy family that has been well established in Canada for generations despite being of British descent. Galen Weston died in April 2021, and so passes control of the family fortune to Galen Weston Jr, who heads the fourth generation of Westons. His father the Late Galen Weston built the retail giant George Weston from the business his father handed him. The Weston family holding company has a controlling interest in Loblaw. The Weston family also owns Ogilvy in Montreal, and Selfridges in the United Kingdom.
3. The McCain Family
The McCain family is the force behind McCain Foods which was founded in 1956 by brothers Wallace and Harrison McCain. From the beginning, the boys also received help from their older brothers Robert and Andrew McCain. Wallace and Harrison built the company into one of Canada’s most iconic brands. However, after they failed to see eye to eye on policies to move the business forward, Wallace and his son left the company in the 1990s and bought Maple Leaf Foods.
4. The Coutu Family
The Coutu family owes its fortune to Jean Coutu, a Pharmacist. This talented and visionary man asked to become an associate of the pharmacy he worked at just after graduation. When he was turned down, he resigned and went on to start his own chain of pharmacies. That gamble has paid off handsomely because he is today the head of one of Canada’s richest families.
His company has over 400 franchised locations, and 20,000 employees. His company also has a private line that manufactures pharmaceutical products. Jean Coutu is no longer just a chain of drugstores; it is now a full-fledged pharmaceutical company.
5. The Saputo Family
The Saputo Family is a Canadian family with strong Italian roots. Giuseppe Saputo, a cheesemaker, immigrated with his family to Montreal in the 1950s from Italy. In 1954, his son Emanuele ‘Lino’ Saputo convinced him to open a joint cheese-making business with the only $500 capital they had, and a bicycle. Today, Lino sits at the helm of the Saputo Corporation; one of the biggest dairy companies in the world, with annual revenue in excess of 9 billion dollars.
6. The Richardson Family
James Richardson came to Canada from Ireland and opened a tailor shop. It was not one of the highest paying jobs for newcomers, and the economy in 1857 was not too good, causing him to take a lot of his payment for services in grain. Subsequently, he had to open storage facilities for the grain, and so gradually saw himself going into the grain business. The later venture brought far more success, and today’ his descendants sit at the helm of Richardson International and have major stakes in property management, money, and finance, as well as oil and gas businesses.
7. The Rogers Family
The Rogers Family has a rather interesting and inspiring story to tell. Edward Rogers Sr. invented a component that brought the radio to the people. However, he died before he was able to make something out of his invention. But then his son Ted, who was only five when his father died, went on to build the Rogers name and legacy, starting a company that has now grown into one of Canada’s largest media conglomerates. The Rogers family empire includes a mobile telecommunications company, media companies, and sports teams.
8. The Irving Family
The Irving family was established by K.C. Irving, who ventured into the oil business at the early age of 25, in the year 1924. That company was successful, and so expanded into other sectors such as paper, retail, and broadcasting. The Irvin conglomerate now includes a shipbuilding company, a logging company, and a land investment company.
9. The Desmarais Family
The Desmarais family has lived in Quebec for a long time. The family has Paul Desmarais to thank for its wealth. After he graduated, from college Paul Desmarais bought a failing bus company, which his grandfather had started. He rescued it, and turned the fortunes of the company around, before buying more bus companies to consolidate the company’s position.
With their profits, they went on to invest in other businesses, including Power Corporation of Canada. Now the Desmarais family is not just one of the richest in the country; they are also one of the most powerful.
10. The Pattison Family
The Pattison was established by Jim Patterson who built his empire from a General Motors car dealership, which he bought with a $40,000 bank loan. Today his family controls the Jim Pattison Group which is the largest privately held company in Canada.
The Jim Pattison Group now owns food companies, TV and radio stations, Guinness World Records, and many more businesses, brands, and franchises. As a highlight to the diversity of the family investments, let us mention that Jim Pattison owns Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mister President” dress. This is one of the most expensive dresses of all time.
This list of the richest families in Canada is both a testament to the viability of Canada as a place to do business and to the fact that one good head can turn the fortunes of a family around. These families have built their wealth and ensured that it has stayed in the family in some cases into the fourth generation. By diversifying their investments these families have managed to stay afloat even in the worst of economic situations.