Top 5 Most Successful Canadian Entrepreneurs

Although Canada isn't primarily known for entrepreneurship, it has produced its fair share of shining stars who have achieved success thanks to their drive, intelligence, and can-do attitudes. Here are five Canadian businessmen who made the world stand up and take notice of their accomplishments:

Key Takeaways

Some notable Canadian success stories include:

  • Mike Lazaridis: Creator of the Blackberry
  • John Molson: Founder of Molson Brewery
  • Harrison and Wallace McCain: Brothers who co-founded frozen foods empire McCain Foods Limited
  • Samuel Bronfman: Founder of Distillers Company Limited
  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier: Founder of Bombardier Limited, maker of railway equipment, civil airplanes, business jets, and motorized snow machines

1. Mike Lazaridis

Mike Lazaridis is the founder of Research in Motion Limited (R.I.M.) and has been credited for developing the Blackberry. Deemed one of Canada's most successful technologists, Lazaridis dropped out of the University of Waterloo to pursue R.I.M., which was his first entrepreneurial foray. He has since been named National Builder of the Year and was honored by Time Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential individuals in 2005.

2. John Molson

Though John Molson died in 1836, he is posthumously regarded as one of Canada's most successful entrepreneurs. Born in England in 1763, Molson immigrated to Canada in 1782, where he showed an early Interest in brewing beer. He soon after founded Molson Brewery, by borrowing startup funds from his grandmother, since an 18-year-old could not legally fund his own alcohol company, which was Canada's second-oldest registered business.

Molson quickly grew his company into the fifth-largest brewery in the world. He furthermore constructed Lower Canada's first distillery, and subsequently parlayed his entrepreneurial success toward social causes, such as funding Montreal's first theater, contributing to the construction of Canada's first railway, and funding Montreal's first public healthcare facility.

3. Harrison and Wallace McCain

Brothers Harrison and Wallace McCain co-founded the frozen foods empire McCain Foods Limited. Launched in 1956, the company quickly became the world's largest supplier of frozen foods, satisfying more than a third of the international demand for French fries. The McCain brothers were inspired by their father, a seed potato farmer. But rather than directly follow in their dad's footsteps, the duo started a factory that cut up potatoes and froze them in the form of fries. The brothers since grew their business to more than 60 international factories, which are capable of processing roughly a million pounds of potatoes per hour.

4. Samuel Bronfman

Samuel Bronfman is an entrepreneur and investor who achieved success by starting Montreal-based Distillers Company Limited, which was acquired by Joseph E. Seagram and Sons in 1928. While he earned a substantial payout through this acquisition, Bronfman stayed on with the company and helped it flourish in a post-prohibition environment. In 1963, Bronfman used his capital to foray into the oil business, where he turned a $50 million investment into $2 billion, by the time he sold the business to Sun Oil Co., 20 years after its inception.

5. Joseph-Armand Bombardier

Joseph-Armand Bombardier launched Bombardier Limited, which became the world's largest railway equipment and civil airplanes producer, and the second-largest manufacturer of business jets. In his mid-30s Bombardier created and sold the B7 snow motor vehicle, thus achieving his lifelong dream of developing a hybrid car/snow machine capable of drifting on snow.

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