Guy Laliberté, OC, OQ, street performer, businessman (born 2 September 1959 in St-Bruno, QC). Laliberté is the fire-breathing accordionist and stilt-walking founder of Cirque du Soleil. He transformed a small band of Québec buskers and street musicians into a performing organization of international repute. Laliberté is also the founder of the One Drop Foundation and in September 2009, he became the first Canadian space tourist.
Joseph Pierre Roméo Vachon, pilot, airline executive (b at Ste-Marie-de-la-Beauce, Qué 29 June 1898; d at Ottawa 17 Dec 1954). After service in the RCNVR during WWI, Vachon joined Laurentide Air Service in 1921 and in 1924-25 performed an aerial survey of Québec's North Shore.
Descendants of Russian immigrant tobacco farmer Yechiel (Ekiel) Bronfman and his wife, Mindel, members of the Bronfman family owned and controlled huge financial empires that were built from the profits of the family liquor business (see Seagram Company Limited). The best known members of the family are Samuel Bronfman, founder of Seagram and president of the Canadian Jewish Congress (1939–62), and his descendants. Sons Edgar and Charles Bronfman ran Seagram for decades, while grandson Edgar Miles Bronfman Jr. oversaw the sale of Seagram to Vivendi. Charles was also co-founder of the Historica Foundation of Canada and Heritage Minutes, as well as chairman and principal owner of the Montreal Expos. His sister Phyllis Lambert is a well-known architect who founded the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Their cousins, Edward and Peter Bronfman (sons of Allan Bronfman), developed a financial empire in their own right. The family has given generously to several charitable organizations and been involved in the Canadian Jewish Congress and World Jewish Congress.
When Capt. Jack Deighton and his family pulled their canoe onto the south shore of the Burrrard Inlet in 1867, Jack was on one more search for riches. He had been a sailor on British and American ships, rushed for gold in California and the Cariboo, piloted boats on the Fraser River and ran a tavern in New Westminster. He was broke again, but he wasted no time in starting a new business and building the settlement that would become Vancouver.
Frank Arthur Calder, OC, Nisga’a politician, chief, businessman (born 3 August 1915, Nass Harbour, BC; died 4 November 2006 in Victoria, BC). Frank Calder was the first Indigenous member of a Canadian legislature, elected in 1949 during the BC general election. Calder is best known for his role in the Nisga’a Tribal Council’s Supreme Court case against the province of British Columbia (commonly known as the Calder case), which demonstrated that Aboriginal title (i.e., ownership) to traditional lands exists in modern Canadian law.
Arlene Dickinson, entrepreneur, business executive, television personality (born 8 October 1956 in Germiston, South Africa). Dickinson is best known as a star of CBC’s Dragons’ Den and as the CEO of Venture Communications Ltd., one of Canada’s largest independent marketing agencies. With a reported net worth of $80 million, Dickinson is one of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs. Her success has been recognized by several honours and awards, such as the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
James Allen Pattison, OC, OBC, entrepreneur, business executive (born 1 October 1928 in Saskatoon, SK). Pattison is best known as the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of The Jim Pattison Group, Canada’s second largest private company, with $9.6 billion in revenues in 2016. The Jim Pattison Group has divisions in broadcast media, signage, supermarkets, fishing, forestry, agriculture, equipment, manufacturing, recreation, marketing and entertainment. With an estimated net worth of $5.6 billion (2016), Pattison is one of the richest individuals in Canada. He is also a philanthropist, having donated a landmark $75 million in 2017 to establish the Jim Pattison Medical Centre in Vancouver, for example.
Bonnie Brooks, CM, retailer, department store executive (born 19 May 1953 in Windsor, ON). Brooks earned her MBA from the Ivey Business School at Western University and also holds two honorary doctoral degrees. She is best known for her work modernizing retail department stores, including Hong Kong’s Lane Crawford, Canada’s Holt Renfrew and Hudson’s Bay, where she was the first woman to be appointed president and CEO. Brooks was later appointed as the first woman vice-chairman of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Avie Bennett, businessman, publisher, philanthropist (born 2 Jan 1928 in Toronto, ON; died 2 June 2017 in Toronto, ON). Renowned for his interest in social and cultural issues, Avie Bennett began his business career in shopping centre development, a business that his family had pioneered.
Rana Sarkar, strategy consultant, business pundit, entrepreneur (born January 1971 in Calcutta, India). Formerly the president and CEO of the Canada-India Business Council, Sarkar is currently the national director for high growth markets at KPMG Canada, and co-chairman of the advisory board and a senior fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. In 2011, he ran an unsuccessful campaign as the Liberal candidate in the federal riding of Scarborough-Rouge River.
Victor Li, business tycoon (born 1 August 1964 in British Hong Kong), studied at Stanford University in California earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil and structural engineering. He is the son of business tycoon Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man, who has a net worth of US$31.8 billion, according to Forbes (March 2017). Li is best known in Canadian business circles as the co-chairman of Calgary-based Husky Energy, and also for his attempt to bail out Air Canada in 2004. He currently serves as the chairman of CKI, an infrastructure conglomerate with holdings in Canada, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia. Li holds citizenship in both Canada and China.
Heather Reisman, CM, entrepreneur, business executive (born 28 August 1948 in Montréal, QC). Reisman studied social work at McGill University and also holds a number of honorary doctorate degrees. She is best known as the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Indigo Books & Music, Canada's largest book and specialty toy retailer, and the co-founder of Kobo, a top global e-reader maker.
Brandt Louie, business tycoon, philanthropist (born 5 July 1943 in Vancouver, BC). Louie is the president of the H.Y. Louie Company, a business started by his grandfather in 1903 that now includes London Drugs Ltd. and the IGA grocery store chain. In 2017, Louie was listed as Canada’s 47th richest person in Canadian Business magazine’s annual ranking, with an estimated fortune of $2.1 billion. Louie is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and a Member of the Order of British Columbia.
Nigel S. Wright, lawyer, businessman, chief of staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper 2010–14 (born 18 May 1963, in Hamilton, ON). In 2010, Nigel Wright took a leave of absence from his role as managing director at Onex, a private equity firm, to become chief of staff to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). He was a key figure in the Harper government, and a prominent witness at the fraud and bribery trial of Senator Mike Duffy. After resigning as chief of staff in 2014, he returned to Onex.
Arthur Howey Ross, hockey player, inventor/innovator and NHL team executive (born 13 January 1885 in Naughton [Sudbury], ON; died 5 August 1964 in Medford, Massachusetts). Ross was considered a top defenseman during a playing career that included several years as a professional (with a brief stint in the fledgling National Hockey League). Following his retirement as a player in 1918, Ross worked as an NHL referee and coached the NHL’s Hamilton Tigers in 1922–23. The Boston Bruins hired him when they entered the league in 1924, and Ross served as coach, general manager and vice president (often holding all three titles at once) until 1954. Ross also invented improved versions of the hockey puck and goalie nets that were used for decades in the NHL, and introduced many of the rules that modernized the game.
Emanuele “Lino” Saputo, CM, OQ, businessman, dairy and cheese industrialist, philanthropist (born 10 June 1937 in Montelepre, Italy). Lino Saputo emerged from modest beginnings to develop one of the most prominent dairy companies in Canada — Saputo — now with operations in the United States, Argentina and Australia. His influence and family name is found throughout Montréal, Québec, including on the Saputo Stadium, home of the Montréal Impact of Major League Soccer, and his family is routinely listed among the wealthiest Canadians, reaching number three in 2017.
Adam Hartley Zimmerman, OC, FCA, lumber and mining executive, philanthropist, and prolific board member (born 19 February 1927 in Toronto, ON; died 19 October 2016 in Toronto, ON). Zimmerman studied at the Royal Canadian Naval College from 1944 to 1946, and then at Trinity College, University of Toronto, earning a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy in 1950. He became a chartered accountant in 1956. In 1958, Zimmerman began his career in the resource industry with Noranda Mines Ltd., rising to president and CEO by 1982. He sat on more than forty public and private boards, including Toronto-Dominion Bank, Confederation Life and the C.D. Howe Institute.
Lawrence “Larry” Murray Tanenbaum, O.C., businessman, sports executive, philanthropist (born 8 July 1945 in Toronto, ON). Larry Tanenbaum is best known for his position as chair of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns four major league sports teams: the Toronto FC, Maple Leafs, Raptors and Argonauts. His career has also spanned the worlds of finance, construction, politics and philanthropy. He is a prominent figure in Toronto and Canada’s Jewish community.
Annette Verschuren, OC, business executive, entrepreneur (born 24 June 1956 in North Sydney, NS). Verschuren studied business at St. Francis Xavier University and also holds a number of honorary doctorate degrees. Best known for her 15 years as the president of The Home Depot Canada, Verschuren co-founded Toronto energy-storage start-up NRStor in 2012 and serves as its chair and CEO. She has also been an active member of two national advisory councils to the Canadian government and was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.