Samuel Belzberg

Samuel Belzberg, financier (b at Calgary 26 June 1928). Educated at the University of Alberta, Belzberg was active in oil and gas investment and all aspects of real-estate development. In 1962 he founded City Savings and Trust in Edmonton in response to the need in western Canada for real-estate development financing. Belzberg moved to Vancouver in 1968 and, with his partners (including brothers Hyman and William), formed Western Realty, an amalgamation of 16 private companies. The sale of Western Realty in 1973 enabled the Belzbergs to buy Far West Financial Corp of California, which brought them national attention.

In 1970 First City Financial Corp was formed as parent company to City Savings, and by the late 1980s it was a diversified holding-investment company with assets in excess of $5.4 billion and operations throughout Canada and the US. City Savings and Trust, renamed First City Trust Company in 1978, had grown by 1986 to a $3.1 billion corporation. In 1985 Scovill Inc, a major US manufacturer, was purchased for $523 million and until 1989 First City Trust Co. had an interest in Cantel Inc.

Belzberg was chairman of the Simon Fraser University Bridge to the Future Campaign (1986-89) and a member of the advisory council for the Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration at UBC (1987-91). The Belzbergs, many of whose relatives died during WWII, financed the Simon Wiesenthal Center at Yeshiva University, Los Angeles, which conducts studies of the Holocaust and which was expanded in 1993 to include a Museum of Tolerance. He is also chairman of the board of trustees of Yeshiva University and a member of the National Board, Canadian Council of Christians and Jews. Belzberg is founder (1976) and chairman of the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation, which has clinics at Vancouver, New York and London, England. He was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 1988.