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Brandt Louie

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.

Article

Charles Bronfman

Charles Rosner Bronfman, PC, CC, businessman and philanthropist (born 27 June 1931 in Montréal, QC). Bronfman was co-chairman of the Bronfman family business, Seagram, the world’s largest producer and distributor of distilled spirits. He also owned the Montreal Expos baseball club from 1968 to 1990. According to Forbes, Bronfman had an estimated net worth of over $2 billion (as of 2017) and was ranked the 16th wealthiest Canadian and 896th wealthiest person in the world. Bronfman is also a dedicated philanthropist. He established the CRB Foundation to promote study of Canadian and Jewish affairs, and co-founded and endowed the Historica Foundation of Canada, which later became Historica Canada (publisher of The Canadian Encyclopedia). He has disbursed approximately $325 million through Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies Inc. (ACBP) and private donations.

Article

James McGill

James McGill, fur trader, merchant, politician, philanthropist (born 6 October 1744 in Glasgow, Scotland; died 19 December 1813 in Montreal, Lower Canada). James McGill was one of Montreal’s most prominent citizens in the 18th and early 19th centuries. He grew a successful career as a fur trader into a business empire. McGill also held various positions in public office, including three terms in Lower Canada’s legislature. His will contained the endowment for McGill University. James McGill’s achievements cannot be separated from the fact that he enslaved Black and Indigenous people and profited from this practice.

Article

John Molson

John Molson, entrepreneur, politician, philanthropist (born 28 December 1763 near Moulton, Lincolnshire, England; died 11 January 1836 in BouchervilleLower Canada). John Molson founded Canada’s oldest and largest brewery and introduced steamship travel in Canada. His investments in Montreal helped to transform the city from a colonial outpost to a cosmopolitan centre. Today, the brewing business he founded continues as part of Molson Coors Beverage Company.

Article

Stephen Smith

Stephen J. R. Smith, financial services entrepreneur, civic leader, philanthropist (born 2 June 1951 in Ottawa, ON). Stephen Smith is a successful entrepreneur in the financial services industry. He is co-founder, chairman, president and CEO of First National Financial LP, Canada’s largest non-bank mortgage lender, as well as chairman and co-owner of the Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company, Canada’s third largest mortgage insurance provider. He is also involved in the administration of cultural organizations such as the Royal Ontario Museum, Rideau Hall Foundation and Historica Canada — publisher of The Canadian Encyclopedia — where he has been chair of the board of directors since 2009. The business school at his alma mater, Queen’s University, was named in his honour after his record $50 million gift to the university in 2015. He is a Companion of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame (2019). A licensed pilot, he is renowned among friends and associates for his daredevil approach to his favourite sports, which include heli-skiing and long-distance cycling. As Charles Brindamour, president and chief executive officer of Intact Financial Corp. has said, “Stephen is a force of nature.”

Article

Michael Lee-Chin

Michael Lee-Chin, businessman, investor and philanthropist (born 3 January 1951 in Port Antonio, Jamaica). Lee-Chin is president and chairman of Portland Holdings, a private investment company. According to Canadian Business magazine, Lee-Chin has an estimated net worth of more than $3.95 billion (as of 2017) and was ranked the 20th wealthiest Canadian. He is also one of the richest Jamaicans. Lee-Chin is also a dedicated philanthropist and has pledged and donated more than $60 million to hospitals, universities and, most notably, the Royal Ontario Museum, where the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal is named in honour of his $30-million pledge.

Article

David Lam

David See-Chai Lam, OC, CVO, OBC, 25th lieutenant-governor of BC 1988–95, banker, land developer, philanthropist (born 25 July 1923 in Hong Kong; died 22 November 2010 in Vancouver, BC). After establishing himself as a successful banker in Hong Kong, David Lam moved to Vancouver in 1967 and became a central figure in the city’s real estate development. As a philanthropist, he made major contributions to the cultural life, community spaces and educational institutions of British Columbia. A vocal advocate of immigration and of Canada’s role within the Pacific Rim, Lam served as lieutenant-governor of British Columbia from 1988 to 1995. He was the first person of Asian ancestry to hold a vice-regal post in Canada.

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Brandt Louie (Profile)

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on March 25, 2002. Partner content is not updated.

In the days before business plans and vision statements, Vancouver shopkeeper Hok Yat Louie wrote, in his native Chinese, a series of letters to his sons. It was 1934 and, in failing health, he'd returned for the first time in 38 years to his birthplace in south China's Pearl River Delta.