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Meet the eight locals that make it onto Forbes’ list of the world’s 1,140 billionaires

Jim Balsillie: billionaire (Image: AtelMedia)

According to The Social Network, a million dollars isn’t cool. But you know what is? A billion dollars. If that’s the case, then just a handful of Canadians are cool these days: Forbes released its annual list of the world’s billionaires, and only 24 Canucks earned a mention. Only one made the top 20, while another two ranked in the top 200 and the rest were sprinkled throughout the list of 1,140. Here, we meet (or re-meet, as they’re all pretty predictable) the eight listees from the G.T.A. and environs.

David Thomson and Family
The top Canadians to make the list are 53-year-old Torontonian David Thomson and his family. They rank 16th globally, with a cool $23-billion fortune. Thomson is the chairman of media behemoth Thomson Reuters, which owns 85 per cent of The Globe and Mail and a large portion of CTV.

Galen Weston and family
Weston may place #133 on the overall list, but he is the second-richest man in Canada (when he’s here, that is), worth $7.1 billion at age 70. Weston owns George Weston Ltd., but is perhaps best known for the Loblaw supermarket chain. Weston is also in the rag trade, with Holt Renfew and Brown Thomas in Ireland. According to Forbes, he’s interested in acquiring Barneys New York.

Fun facts: He is an avid collector of avant-garde artist Christo, attends the Vanity Fair Oscar party and has played polo with Prince Charles.

Bernard Sherman
At age 69, Sherman clocks in at #393 in the world (alongside 15 others), with a net worth of $2.9 billion. Sherman attended the University of Toronto for his undergrad and received a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sherman founded Apotex, a generic drug maker, in 1974, and sales exceed $1 billion today.

Not so fun fact: Sherman is currently locked in a long legal battle against relatives who allege they own a piece of his fortune.

Wallace McCain
Hailing from Florenceville, New Brunswick, McCain occupies the 512nd place on the list. McCain founded the eponymous frozen French fry empire with his brother Harrison in 1956 and owns meat processor Maple Leaf Foods.

Not so fun fact: McCain was forced out of the day-to-day operations after a family feud. Harrison was reportedly upset when Wallace named his son, Michael, as McCain USA’s unilateral chief executive in 1990. The resulting legal battle forced Wallace to lose his job in 1994.

Mike Lazaridis
Lazaridis, 49, lives in Waterloo and is the co-founder of BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion.  Worth $1.9 billion, he is ranked as the 651st billionaire. Lazaridis received a BA-BS at the University of Waterloo, where he is now chancellor, and also founded Waterloo’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in 1999.

Jim Balsillie
Balsillie is also a co-founder of Research in Motion, and he placed just beneath his partner Lazaridis in the 692nd spot, with $1.8 billion. At 50, Balsillie is, according to Forbes, a “sports nut,” having made three unsuccessful attempts to buy an NHL team for Ontario. He is also a member of the Trilateral Commission.

Fun fact: Forbes perhaps says it best, describing Balsillie as being in an “active ego-match with Steve Jobs over whose [product] is better.” Back in October, Jobs announced that the iPhone outsold the BlackBerry 14.1 million to 12.1 million, and claimed that RIM’s initial PlayBook tablet would be “dead on arrival” compared to the 10-inch iPad. The Toronto Star reports Balsillie as responding that Apple’s sales figures in the most recent quarter were unrealistically high because of suppressed demand before the launch of the iPhone 4. “As usual … there’s more to the story,” Balsillie said. “Sooner or later … people … will begin to resent begin being told half a story.”

Frank Stronach
Father to Belinda, Stronach, 78, has a net worth of $1.7 billion, putting him at 736th. Stronach emigrated from Austria to Montreal in 1954, working odd jobs before opening his ow,n tool and die shop in 1957 with friend Tony Czapka. Owner of Magna International, one of the world’s biggest automotive parts suppliers, the Aurora-based Stronach relinquished control of his company last year in exchange for a payout upwards of $1 billion.

Fun fact: Stronach is a successful horse breeder. His family owns Adena Springs Farm, which just won its seventh breeder Eclipse Award in January.

Gerald Schwartz
Schwartz received an MBA from Harvard and, at the age 69, is worth $1 billion. Schwartz shares the 1140th slot with several other billionaires around the world. Founder of private equity firm Onex Corp., established in 1984, Schwartz also has large stakes in electronics manufacturer Celestica. St. Frances Xavier University’s business school is named after him.

Fun fact: Schwartz owns a 19-foot dinghy called “Know Heather,” named after his wife, Heather Reisman, founder of Indigo Books and Music.

 

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