Meet Some of the Canadian Billionaires

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Money by Nick Ares
Money by Nick Ares

This year’s title of the richest man in the world according to the list of billionaires published annually by Forbes is held by Carlos Slim from Mexico. Every year, a number of Canadian business people appear among those who control a considerable amount of the world’s wealth. The area of real estate is frequently cited as one of the main sources of their riches. Last year, 24 Canadians appeared in the list, while this year’s number rose to 26. Let’s take a look at some of the wealthiest people living in Canada who have left their footprints in the domain of real estate.

David Thomson

Net worth: $17.5 billion – 35th place

Winnipeg Jets Logo by Wikimedia Commons
Winnipeg Jets Logo by Wikimedia Commons

The only Canadian who made it into the company of Forbes’ top 50 richest people, David Thomson is a member of the country’s wealthiest family involved in several industries — including real estate. Thomson held many positions in companies controlled by his family before he founded a real estate firm, Osmington Incorporated, owned and operated outside of the Thomson empire. Today he’s an active private investor with a focus on real estate who serves on the boards of several private companies.

Apart from real estate, David Thomson operates in many other industry sectors, the most important of which is media. He’s chairman of The Globe and Mail Inc., a Canadian media company publishing the most prestigious and influential journal in Canada. One of his recent investments went into the National Hockey League’s Atlanta Thrashers team, which he relocated to Canada under a new name, the Winnipeg Jets. When compared to the list published last year in which David Thomson ranked 17th with $23 billion, his drop to the current position is considerable.

David Azrieli

Net worth: $2.9 billion – 401st place

David Azrieli’s life story is an inspirational account of how to follow your dreams despite many personal tragedies. Born in Poland in 1922, he lost his parents, younger brother, and sister in the Shoah. After this tragic experience, Azrieli was forced to flee his native country when it was taken over by the Nazis. He made his way through Russia and Central Asia before finally arriving in Palestine, where he worked to support his studies at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. After having fought in Israel’s War of Independence, David Azrieli travelled and lived in South Africa, England, and the United States before settling in Canada in 1954.

Van Horne House Montreal by Wikimedia Commons
Van Horne House Montreal by Wikimedia

His career in real estate started with the construction of four homes in a Montreal suburb. Today he is among the world’s most innovative architects and designers with a number of architectural landmarks in the form of office buildings, high-rise residences, office towers, and shopping centres built in Canada, the United States, and Israel. On a personal level, David was named to the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour, in 1984, and in 1999, he was named chevalier of the Ordre National du Québec, the province’s highest civilian honour. Just as David Thomson, Azrieli didn’t defend position from last year. In 2011, he ranked 362nd with $3.1 billion.

Carlo Fidani

Net worth: $2 billion – 634th place

Another representative of Canada on the list of billionaires is a Mississauga businessperson, Carlo Fidani, who is Chairman of Orlando Corporation, a privately owned Canadian real estate construction company. The corporation was originally founded by Carlo’s grandfather back in 1948 and he is now the third generation to run the family construction, development, and management business. Nowadays, the company owns more than 40 million square feet of industrial, office, and commercial real estate in the Toronto area.

Among other things, Carlo Fidani is closely involved in the healthcare industry, which he regularly supports through landmark investments. He donated $10 million to the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus to contribute to the growth of local hospitals and encourage young medical students to work where they trained. A true believer in Canada’s healthcare system, Fidani’s convinced that the only solution to preserving the system is private donation. However, there’s also a personal level as far as his contributions in healthcare services are concerned. Almost every member of Carlo’s family has been affected by cancer and it was his frequent visits to cancer wards that had the greatest influence on his present initiatives. That’s why he gave $6 million to another Mississauga hospital, Credit Valley, for its cancer unit.

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