Companies You Think Are Canadian

By Kate Robertson | September 22, 2010 AAA
Companies You Think Are Canadian

They originated in Canada, are marketed and branded as Canadian, but are locally owned no longer. Which companies - that seem to just ooze Canada - are actually owned by foreign companies? We've got the nitty-gritty on who exactly owns your favorite products from the Great White North. (This property market is easy to access and provides profitable opportunities. To learn more, see Canada: A New Frontier For Real Estate Investors.)

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Molson
Founded by John Molson in 1786 in Montreal, one of Canada's most popular and oldest-running breweries is known for its marketing tactics that play on patriotism. The "I am Canadian" advertising campaign took television sets by storm, featuring a plaid-wearing, regular Joe who proclaimed, "I have a prime minister, not a president. I speak English and French, not American, and I pronounce it 'about,' not 'a boot.'"

Northerly beer-drinkers loved the campaign, which pre-empted a 2005 merger that would bring Coors, the American beer company, together with Molson. Now, Molson is referred to as the Canadian division of the Molson Coors Brewing Company. They maintain that although the company is incorporated in the U.S., it's traded on both the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange, and there's an equal share of control between the Coors and Molson families, who have both retained executive roles at the company.

Hudson's Bay Company
It is North America's oldest commercial corporation, founded in 1670 as a fur-trader under the name The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay. Nowadays, Canadians know the chain of department stores as The Bay, or Hudson's Bay Company, and its green, red, gold and blue logo has been reinvented numerous times since the company's beginnings. Most recently, The Bay enjoyed its position as the exclusive headquarters for all winter Olympic gear, and tourists from all over the world lined the block at Vancouver's downtown store to buy souvenirs and team jerseys.

But many Canadians would be shocked to hear that the department stores, along with Zellers and Home Outfitters, are actually owned by NRDC Equity Partners, an American private equity firm. NRDC also owns Lord & Taylor, the U.S. luxury department store.

CCM
Any Canadian kid who played hockey growing up is familiar with the CCM brand of hockey sticks. CCM, which stands for Canada Cycle & Motor Co. Ltd, manufactured both bicycles and hockey gear, but those two sides of the business split since the company was founded in 1899. Even though the company struggled with bankruptcy and other financial troubles over the years, their hockey equipment was widely used by pros and amateurs alike.

In 1998, CCM's parent corporation The Hockey Company bought Sports Holdings, Inc., and acquired brands such as Koho, Canadien and Titan. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky famously played with a Titan 4020 when he played for the Edmonton Oilers. (Canada has oil in more than just the NHL. Check out Canada's Oil Billionaires.)

But in 2004, the company was bought by Reebok, which discontinued the manufacture of all other hockey equipment brands except for CCM's line. Reebok, a subsidiary of Adidas, also began manufacturing their own line of hockey gear.

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Tim Hortons?
What could be more Canadian than a doughnut shop founded in 1964 by a former hockey player in Hamilton, Ontario? Well, the company hasn't had anything to do with the Horton family since their father Tim died in a car crash in 1974, but much of the chain's success is built on connecting a sense of pride with its uniquely flavored coffee and cookie-cutter baked goods. Television ads have featured Canadian roadtrippers stopping at every Tim's chain across the country, fathers and sons bonding at hockey practices and African immigrants, new to Canada, sharing their first taste of Tim's coffee.

But in 1995, American company Wendy's International Inc. acquired the Canadian coffee giant, but eventually let go of its shares in an IPO in 2006 and Tim's is now traded publicly on the TSX and NYSE. In recent years, the company has made a big push in the U.S., opening stores across the country, including in former Dunkin' Donuts stores in New York.

Recently however, Tim Hortons has sold its stake in Maidstone, the Ontario-based company which makes donuts for every location in Canada, to the Swiss company Aryzta. (Your daily jolt adds up. Find out just how much in The Real Cost Of Drinking Coffee.)

The Bottom Line
If you decide whose business you want to support based on who's running the show, you may want to do some quick online research to catch up on who has bought what since you last checked. Companies know you care where your products come from, and frequently use somewhat misleading marketing tactics in order to make you think you're supporting something you're not. Many of your favorite companies originated in Canada, but are owned by foreign shareholders or private parent companies. So do your homework!

For the latest financial news, see Water Cooler Finance: Poverty Rates Increase - And So Do Millionaires.

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