James Richardson, grain merchant (b at Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, Ire 1819; d probably at Kingston 1892). Richardson immigrated to Canada in 1823 and was raised by an aunt in Kingston. A successful tailor by 1844, his acceptance of produce as payment led him into the commodities business. By 1857 Richardson was a grain merchant, with an interest in coal, MICA, FELDSPAR, phosphates and other minerals. In 1867 his firm built its first company-owned ship and in 1882 its first grain elevator.
Richardson developed an early interest in western Canadian wheat and in 1883 received from Manitoba the first prairie wheat sold in Europe. In 1912 he founded the great wheat firm James Richardson and Sons, Ltd. It was reorganized and diversified after his death by his sons George and Henry and remains the property of his descendants (see J.A. RICHARDSON, SR, and J.A. RICHARDSON, JR). Although the firm quickly became a major prairie institution centred in Winnipeg, it retained its head office in Kingston, Ont, until 1923, when its executive office moved to Winnipeg. Richardson's firm, the largest grain firm in the British Commonwealth, has played a major role in the development of prairie Canada.