It’s been over a decade since we first wrote about the richest Canadians, and we thought it was a good time to update the list! While some have remained on the top 10 wealthiest Canadian list for years, some have not been able to maintain that title. Others have been able to retain their top spot, with some adding millions, even billions, to their wealth since our last update. 

When looking to build our own personal wealth, it can be inspiring to look to those that have made it big and generated considerable wealth. Perhaps we can learn some lessons from their smart money moves and apply them to our very own million dollar journey.

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1.   David Thomson: $60.3 billion

If you are Canadian, it’s likely you already know that the Thomson family is the richest family in Canada. Since our last update 2 years ago, they have added a whopping $14.3 billion to their wealth.

How do they generate so much wealth? The family controls Thomson Reuters (TSX:TRI), a media conglomerate that owns many media companies — and is of course the most prestigious news organization in the world. In addition, they own the Toronto-based Globe and Mail newspaper, as well as hold a stake in Bell Canada. 

2. Changpeng Zhao: $15 billion

A new addition to the list of Canada’s wealthiest people, Zhao made his fortune as the co-founder and CEO of Binance, which has become the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading platform.

Since founding Binance, Zhao has also launched Binance Coin and Binance Smart Change, which has become a rival to Ethereum. Naturally, a chunk of Zhao’s net worth comes from holding cryptocurrency. Early this year, Binance announced a plan to buy a minority stake in Forbes, one of the leading business media outlets.

3. David Cheriton: $12.4 billion

Another one who has moved up the list, adding more than $3 billion to his net worth since the last update, Cheriton started his billion dollar journey by investing $200,000 in Google in 1998. Among other ventures, he co-founded Granite Systems, which was purchased by Cisco Systems in 1996.

He is also an active investor as well as philanthropist. Cheriton is still a computer science professor at Stanford University, continuing to teach although he clearly does not have to.

4. Jim Pattison: $10 billion

In spite of the pandemic, Pattinson has been able to double his wealth since our last update. His first foray into business was when he purchased a car dealership at the age of 33. At the age of 94 years old, he is still very much involved in running the 25 divisions under his company’s umbrella.

The entertainment division includes some world famous names such as the Guinness World Records and Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Pattison is also a philanthropist, and created the Jim Pattison Foundation, and has committed to donating 10% of his wealth to charitable causes.

5. Anthony Von Mandl: $9.1 billion

If you’ve ever enjoyed a Mike’s Hard Lemonade or White Claw Hard Seltzer, you can thank Von Mandl, founder and CEO of the Mark Anthony Group. His group remains one of the largest importer and distributor of alcoholic beverages in Canada, and his U.S. business alone generated $3 billion alone in 2021.

Von Mandl got his start in the wine industry in the days where there were very few wineries in Canada. Nowadays you can often find him on the grounds of his favourite vineyard.

6. Galen Weston Jr.: $8.7 billion

Outsiders may not know them, but every Canadian will have shopped in one of Weson’s stores. Loblaws, Real Canadian Super Store as well as No Frills are all owned by the same family. The grocery and retail company was founded by George’s grandfather, but by no means was he passive in its success. Weston Jr. is currently the executive chairman of the Loblaws Companies Ltd.

7. Joseph Tsai: $7.4 billion

Although he’s fallen a few spots since our last update, Tsai is still one of Canada’s richest people. Tsai is the vice chairman, and co-founder, of e-commerce giant Alibaba. Although Alibaba’s stock has dropped during the last couple of years, it remains one of the world’s largest e-commerce giants. Tsai originally bought 49% of the Brooklyn Nets, and bought the remaining 51% in 2019.

8. Alain Bouchard: $7.4 billion

Bouchard is one of the co-founders and current chairman of Alimentation Chouche-Tard, which now operates over 12,000 convenience stores worldwide. In 2003 Alimentation Chouche-Tard acquired popular U.S. convenience store brand Circle K. 

A new addition to the top 10 list, Bouchard’s business sense has led him to immense wealth and earned him the title of Outstanding CEO of the year in 2012.

9. Chip Wilson: $7 billion

Wilson is a Canadian billionaire who has founded several apparel companies. The most famous of which is Lululemon Athletica Inc., which is known worldwide for its yoga athletic wear.

Although Wilson stepped down as CEO of Lululemon in 2013, he currently still owns 8% of the company. He also currently owns 0.6% of Chinese-based athletic wear company Anta.

10. Emanuele (Lino) Saputo & Family: $5 billion

Saputo was the CEO of Saputo, the Montreal-based dairy company, until his retirement in 2017. Saputo is the most well-known dairy company in Canada, which was founded by Emanuele’s father, an immigrant from Sicily, who only had $500 and a bicycle to deliver the products when he first started the company.

Today, Saputo’s dairy products are sold in over 40 countries worldwide. In addition, the family owns major stakes in several other companies, including trucking company TransForce.

The top 10 list has a broad selection of self-made billionaires and inherited companies — but you never have to go back many generations before the fortune was first built. Even with the billions in the bank, none of these billionaires are retiring before their time. They all enjoy expanding their businesses, growing and getting involved with projects that mean a lot to them.

Previous list of the richest Canadians (2020)

  1. Thomson Family ($53.3 Billion; vs $39 Billion in 2020) 
  2. Joseph Tsai ($14.36 Billion; vs $10.2 Billion in 2020)
  3. Galen Weston ($7.6 Billion; vs $9 Billion in 2020) 
  4. James Irving ($4.1 Billion; vs $7 Billion in 2020; no longer in the top 10) 
  5. Richardson Family ($6.5 Billion in 2020; no longer in the top 10)
  6. David Cheriton ($10 Billion; vs $6.4 Billion in 2020)
  7. Jim Pattison ($11.6 ; vs $5.7 Billion in 20200
  8. Saputo Family ($5 Billion; vs 5.1 Billion in 2020) 
  9. Chip Wilson ($5.8 Billion; vs $4.6 Billion in 2020)
  10. Mark Scheinberg ($4.9; vs $4.6 Billion in 2020)

It’s fascinating to learn about the top 10 wealthiest Canadians, especially when you consider the variety of businesses they have created. Many of them were certainly not born with silver spoons in their mouths, but got to their respective top spots due to their relentless passion and drive.

These are all excellent examples of people who reached financial freedom, yet continue to do what they love, even if they really wouldn’t have to work another day in their life. Talk about life goals!

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FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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Paul Kim
4 years ago

I’m way late to this thread, but just wanted to drop in and say that I recently had the pleasure of meeting Joseph Tsai, and it was eye-opening to see how different his mindset and approach to life is. Very optimistic, but most importantly focused on solving one main problem at a time. His approach in business and in wealth creation seemed to me like he finds one big problem he wants to solve and dedicate 100% of his energy towards, and then moves onto the next one. Such a huge lesson for me, as I usually just dabble in multiple things here and there and never go all in on one cause. Just wanted to share my experience :)

5 years ago

thanks for the articles and updates! Curious if you could include the average and median Canadian NW along side these big shooters over that period!

Marcuz Christi
5 years ago

Didn’t Paul Desmarais die like five years ago?

5 years ago

Great list- I haven’t heard of the Irving Family nor of Joseph Tsai.

Canadian Freedom
14 years ago

The common thread here is that the wealthy are invested in assets. They leverage money and people to create wealth. Anyone can do it although some may do it more than others. What one person can do another can do! We just need to learn from them, set our own goals, and put our own plans in place. Then do it!

14 years ago

I don’t agree with these “Forbes-like” lists that include entire families as opposed to individuals.

Henry – there is another important factor in that equation. Liabilities! Having $1M in assets with $1M liabilities doesn’t necessarily make you any more rich than someone who owns nothing and owes nothing.

Western style governments recognize that small businesses are great places to put stimulus money. They employ a large proportion of all workers, their growth rates are quite large and the amount invested can often be proportionately small yet quite impactful.

If you have a government that encourages owners to reinvest back into their business they can grow more quickly and employ more people. I also am glad I live in a capitalistic country with a socialist mindset.

There are enough incentives to become very wealthy and yet enough opportunities for the government to share some of your wealth with others.

cash back reward
14 years ago

Would have of these make it in the top wealthiest people in the world?

14 years ago

I do not agree with you sco. I grew up in a communist country where everyone had the same salary and no one could get rich. You have no idea how miserable life was because there were no incentives whatsoever to strive for excellence or make things better. Now I am proud to be in North America. I no longer have to make my own clothes, I can buy the food that I want and my kids can play with real toys and not sticks and pebbles because there are companies out there who who make what I want to buy in exchange for my $$$. These profits are their incentive. It is called capitalism. And this is fine with me, I would never go back to my orhter life. So grow up or educate yourself becore posting such ridiculous statements as 95% taxation. You have no idea what you wish for.

Big Cajun Man
14 years ago

I’ll bet there are a few “phantom” rich folk who don’t like having their names in the papers, but I am not one of them. Hopefully I’ll be on this list one day.

14 years ago

ghost seems to be one of those misguided defenders (and worshipers) of the very rich. I don’t think they have their fortune in cash; they are the real owners (major shareholders) of the big corporations for which us, the poor, are working our asses off and are being paid pennies.
If we were smarter, we would tax all incomes over ridiculous levels (like $2M/year) at 95%, so that obscene fortunes like those listed here would not be possible. Unfortunately most of us are dumb enough to think that we can also become rich one day, by working extra hard and kissing the right asses.