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Canadian Tire

Canadian Tire Corporation, Ltd., is one of Canada’s most recognized retail chains. Founded in Toronto by brothers J.W. and A.J. Billes, the company got its start when the brothers bought the Hamilton Tire and Garage in 1922. In 1927, they incorporated the business as the Canadian Tire Corporation. Still headquartered in Toronto, the company operates a network of 1,700 stores and gas bars that extends to every province and territory except Nunavut. Canadian Tire owns Mark’s Work Wearhouse and FGL Sports, including the retail companies Sport Chek, Atmosphere and Sports Experts. It is a public company that trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol CTC. In 2018, Canadian Tire registered $14.1 billion in revenue and $783 million in profit and held $17.3 billion in assets.

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James Armstrong Richardson (Jr)

James Armstrong Richardson Jr., PC, grain merchant, politician (born 28 March 1922 in Winnipeg, MB; died 17 May 2004 in Winnipeg). The son of James A. Richardson Sr., James Jr. studied at Queen’s University and served in the RCAF as a Liberator bomber pilot patrolling the North Atlantic. He joined the family firm of James Richardson and Sons Ltd. in 1946 and was chairman and executive officer from 1966 to 1968. Richardson was elected Liberal member of Parliament for Winnipeg South in June 1968 and appointed minister without portfolio in July. From 1969 to 1972, he was minister of Supply and Services. He was re-elected in the 1972 general election and was appointed minister of National Defence. Following his resignation from Cabinet in 1978 over the government’s language policy, he sat as an Independent (1978–79), after which he returned to the family firm and became a director.

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Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial, based in Toronto, is one of Canada’s largest insurance companies. It has operations located around the world and offers insurance and other investment products to individuals and corporate clients. Total assets of the company have grown from $74 million in 1915, to $55.8 billion in 2000 and $271.8 billion in 2018. Its shares trade on the Toronto, New York and Philippines stock markets.

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Shoppers Drug Mart

Shoppers Drug Mart is a wholly owned subsidiary of Loblaw Companies Limited, which itself is a subsidiary of George Weston Limited. It operates drugstores, pharmacies, medical supply stores and beauty boutiques. Its retail chains include Shoppers Drug Mart, Pharmaprix, Shoppers Simply Pharmacy, Pharmaprix Simplement Santé, Wellwise and Murale. It also owns a patient assistance provider and drug distributor (Shoppers Drug Mart Specialty Health Network), a supplier of pharmaceutical products and services for long-term care homes (MediSystem Technologies), and a non-surgical cosmetic clinic (The Beauty Clinic). In 2018, Shoppers Drug Mart operated more than 1,300 stores. It is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario.

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Gerry Schwartz

Gerald Wilfred Schwartz, OC, business executive (born 24 November 1941 in Winnipeg, MB). Gerry Schwartz is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Toronto-based Onex Corporation, one of Canada’s largest private equity firms. A successful long-term investor, he has overseen major business deals in more than three decades at the head of Onex. Schwartz was one of 45 Canadians to make the Forbes list of billionaires in 2019, with the magazine estimating his net worth at US $1.6 billion. He has donated millions of dollars to universities, hospitals, charities and cultural organizations.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Manulife Financial Corporation

Manulife Financial Corporation, based in Toronto, is Canada’s largest insurance company and one of the largest in the world. Its principal operations are located in Canada, the United States and Asia. Manulife offers life, health and income insurance protection, as well as annuities and wealth and asset management. It was founded in 1887 as Manufacturers Life Insurance Company Inc. Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, was also the company’s first president. Manulife is a public company that trades on the Toronto, New York and Philippine stock exchanges under the symbol MFC and on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong as 945. In 2018, Manulife registered $39 billion in revenue and $4.8 billion in profit and held $1.1 trillion in assets. The company employs more than 34,000 people, who serve nearly 28 million customers.

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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.”

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Conrad Black

Conrad Moffat Black, Lord Black of Crossharbour, newspaper publisher, author, columnist and historian (born 25 August 1944 in Montreal, QC). Conrad Black owned and published a large network of newspapers in Canada and abroad between 1969 and 2004. He was convicted of mail fraud and obstruction of justice in 2007 and served a prison sentence in the United States. However, Black was pardoned for his convictions in 2019 by US president Donald Trump. He is a well-known author and columnist on history and politics.

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George Weston Limited

George Weston Limited is one of North America’s largest processors and distributors of food. The company operates three subsidiaries: Loblaw Companies Limited, a grocery, drugstore and general retailer; Weston Foods, a baking company; and Choice Properties, a real estate investment trust. George Weston Ltd. owns a variety of brands and retail banners. Weston Foods includes Wonder, D’Italiano and Country Harvest and Loblaw brands include No Name, President’s Choice, Life Brand and Joe Fresh. Loblaw stores include Loblaws, Zehrs, Your Independent Grocer, Provigo, Atlantic Superstore, Fortinos, Dominion, Independent City Market, Valu-mart, ARZ Bakery, Wholesale Club, T&T Supermarket, Real Canadian Liquorstore, Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills, Maxi, Extra Foods and Shoppers Drug Mart. In 2018, George Weston Ltd. registered $48.6 billion in revenue and $530 million in profit and held assets valued at $43.8 billion. George Weston Ltd. is the country’s largest private-sector employer, with 203,238 full- and part-time employees as of 2018. It is a public company headquartered in Toronto and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol WN.

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Annette Verschuren

Annette Verschuren, OC, business executive, entrepreneur (born 24 June 1956 in North Sydney, NS). Verschuren studied business at St. Francis Xavier University and also holds a number of honorary doctorates. Best known for her 15 years as the president of The Home Depot Canada, Verschuren co-founded Toronto energy-storage start-up NRStor in 2012 and serves as its chair and CEO. She has served on several government-appointed bodies and the boards of Canadian businesses and non-profits.

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Canopy Growth Corporation

Canopy Growth Corporation was the first cannabis company in North America to be federally regulated and publicly traded. The Canadian company, headquartered in Smiths Falls, Ontario, produces a large portion of Canada’s legal cannabis flower, oils and edibles under its various brands. Its products are sold in all 13 Canadian provinces and territories. With more than two dozen subsidiaries and operations on five continents, Canopy is one of the world’s largest cannabis and hemp corporations. It employs 2,700 people full-time and is worth more than $20 billion.

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Heather Reisman

Heather Reisman, CM, entrepreneur, business executive (born 28 August 1948 in Montreal, QC). Reisman is best known as the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Indigo Books & Music, Canada’s largest book and specialty toy retailer, and the co-founder of Kobo, a top global e-reader maker. She holds honorary doctorates from several universities and a bachelor’s degree in social work from McGill University.

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Hudson's Bay Company

The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), chartered 2 May 1670, is the oldest incorporated joint-stock merchandising company in the English-speaking world. HBC was a fur trading business for most of its history, a past that is entwined with the colonization of British North America and the development of Canada. The company now owns and operates department stores in Canada, the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Originally headquartered in London, England, its head offices are located in Brampton, Ontario. HBC is owned by NRDC Equity Partners, an American private investment firm that purchased the company in 2008. HBC operates the following retailers: Hudson’s Bay, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks OFF 5TH, Galeria Kaufhof, Sportarena and Galeria INNO. In 2017, HBC registered $14.3 billion in revenue and held assets valued at $12.2 billion. It is a public company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol HBC.

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Bronfman Family

Descendants of Russian immigrant tobacco farmer Yechiel (Ekiel) Bronfman and his wife, Mindel, members of the Bronfman family have owned and controlled huge financial empires built from the profits of the family liquor business (see Seagram). The best-known members of the family are Samuel Bronfman, founder of Seagram and president of the Canadian Jewish Congress (1939–62), and his descendants. Samuel’s wife, Saidye Rosner Bronfman, was an influential philanthropist who supported the arts in Canada and was awarded the Order of the British Empire for organizing work on the home front during the Second World War. Sons Edgar and Charles Bronfman ran Seagram for decades, while grandson Edgar Miles Bronfman Jr. oversaw the sale of Seagram to Vivendi. Charles was also co-founder of the Historica Foundation of Canada and Heritage Minutes, as well as chairman and principal owner of the Montreal Expos. His sister Phyllis Lambert is a well-known architect who founded the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Their cousins, Edward and Peter Bronfman (sons of Allan Bronfman), developed a financial empire in their own right. The family has given generously to several charitable organizations and been involved in the Canadian Jewish Congress and World Jewish Congress. 

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Computers and Canadian Society

Canadians use computers in many aspects of their daily lives. Eighty-four per cent of Canadian families have a computer in the home, and many people rely on these devices for work and education. Nearly everyone under the age of 45 uses a computer every day, including mobile phones that are as capable as a laptop or tablet computer. With the widespread use of networked computers facilitated by the Internet, Canadians can purchase products, do their banking, make reservations, share and consume media, communicate and perform many other tasks online. Advancements in computer technologies such as cloud computing, social media, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are having a significant impact on Canadian society. While these and other uses of computers offer many benefits, they also present societal challenges related to Internet connectivity, the digital divide, privacy and crime.