British Columbia has the fourth-largest GDP compared to the other Canadian provinces and territories and accounts for 13.38% of Canada’s total GDP. Vancouver, the province’s largest city, is one of the most expensive cities in the entire country (second only to Toronto).
Needless to say, there are a lot of wealthy individuals in British Columbia. If you’ve ever wondered who the richest people in BC are, then you’re in the right spot.
Below, I’ll show you the top billionaires and how they got so rich.
The richest person in British Columbia is Jim Pattison. His current net worth is estimated to be $11.62 billion in Canadian dollars. He’s the founder and head of the Jim Pattison Group, a major investment banking firm that’s heavily invested into some of the biggest brands in the country.
Jim Pattison has an interesting story, and he has an incredibly inspiring story.
As a college dropout, Jim started selling cars at a local car dealership, quickly becoming one of the best salesmen on the lot. He worked his way up, building capital and equity in his home and life insurance policy.
Once he was ready, he asked for a $40,000 loan from the RBC to open his own car dealership (a very large amount in 1961). To get the bank to agree, Jim had to put his home and the cash value of his life insurance policy on the line.
Over the next 25 years, he expanded his empire, becoming one of the top auto dealerships in Canada. After this, he turned to investment banking.
In short, Jim’s most defining trait was his ability to sell. From selling cars to selling the bank on an investment, to selling stocks, he’s one of the best in the business. It’s no wonder that Jim Pattison is sometimes referred to as the “Warren Buffet of Canada.”
Some of the top companies that the Jim Pattison Group owns include:
- Guinness World Records
- Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
- Save-On-Foods (one of the cheapest grocery stores in Vancouver)
The investment group also owns several TV and radio broadcast stations throughout Canada. Jim Pattison’s story just goes to show you how far sales skills, good work ethic, and believing in yourself can take you.
British Columbia happens to have some of the warmest weather in Canada, which is why some of the country’s richest entrepreneurs and business owners choose to retire there.
From current residents to BC natives, here are some of the richest people in British Columbia.
1. Anthony Von Mandl
- Net Worth: $10.53 billion
- Industry: Alcohol production and distribution
The next time that you go out to the bar or your local nightclub take a quick look at what the people around you are drinking. I guarantee you’ll see a few of the drink brands owned by Anthony Von Mandl.
He has always been passionate about food and wine, and his first entrepreneurial venture was selling fine wine from the trunk of his car. After graduating from the University of British Columbia with an economics degree, Von Mandle decided to accept a wine apprenticeship in Europe.
When he returned to Canada, he used his knowledge and connections to start a retail business, selling imported wines. He went on to found Mikes Hard Lemonade in 1996, which helped him skyrocket to success.
Most recently, he started White Claw – one of the largest alcoholic seltzer brands in the world.
His true passion is fine wine, though, and Von Mandle spends most of his time in his vineyards and wineries invested into the production and distribution of fine wines in Canada.
2. Joseph Tsai
- Net Worth: $8.1 billion
- Industry: eCommerce
Joseph Tsai is one of the richest people in Canada and is the co-founder of Alibaba Group Ltd., one of the largest eCommerce platforms in the world. Many of the items found on sites like Amazon or stores like Walmart are all produced by Chinese factories with deals made on Alibaba’s eCommerce network.
Joseph Tsai is always a lawyer, which helped him broker his first deals and develop Alibaba into the massive global company that it is today.
He spends most of his time between Hong Kong and British Columbia, as he holds both Chinese and Canadian passports. Officially, he’s a citizen of Canada, though.
3. Arthur Irving
- Net Worth: $6.4 billion
- Industry: Oil
Arthur Irving is the owner of Irving Oil Ltd., the massive oil company founded by his father, K. C. Irving (who passed away in 1992). Although Arthur Irving is a New Brunswick native, he spends a fair amount of time in his British Columbia residence.
In addition to owning oil refineries and an oil distribution business, Arthur Irving is also involved in other businesses that are part of the Irving Family Trust, including:
- Paper production
- Steel fabrication
- Shipping and ship-building
- Frozen foods
Although he inherited the business, Arthur Irving has proved himself a strong leader and has grown the family business.
4. Chip Wilson
- Net Worth: $5.92 billion
- Industry: Clothing and fashion
Chip Wilson is a native of San Diego, California, but became a Canadian resident after attending the University of Calgary. Today, he’s best known for being the largest shareholder of clothing giant Lululemon Athletica Inc.
Many in the fashion industry accredit Chip Wilson with starting the trend of “athleisure” wear – a cross between athletic wear and everyday, comfortable clothing. Today, Lululemon has a lot of competitors, but the company made waves when it first rose to popularity.
Today, Chip Wilson is more of an investor than a fashion designer. He and his family own an investment banking company called “Hold It All” that invests in everything from real estate to apparel brands.
5. Bob Gaglardi
- Net Worth: $3.51 billion
- Industry: Real estate
Bob Gaglardi is an international real estate mogul and investor. He started building his empire with a $5,000 loan which he used to open a small Sandman Inn hotel. He continued opening more hotels and eventually evolved into creating high-end hotels, spas, restaurants, and even construction companies.
He’s expanded his business throughout Europe and the US and notably owns major brands, including:
- Moxie’s Grill and Bar
- The Sutton Place Hotels
- Sandman Hotel Group
- Northland Asset Management Company
- … and more
Recently, he purchased the Dallas Stars NHL hockey team, and has turned the once-bankrupt team into a profitable professional league sports team.
6. The Aquilini Family
- Net Worth: $3.3 billion
- Industry: Real estate and agriculture
The Aquilini Family emigrated to Vancouver from Italy in the early-1950s. Luigi Aquilini started his empire with a small construction company. He eventually got into building large homes, apartments, and high-rises. From there, Luigi began investing in hospitality, hotels, restaurants, and more.
In addition to the company’s real estate ventures Aquilini Investment Group also owns massive blueberry and cranberry farms, as well as vineyards and wineries. The family also owns the Vancouver Canucks NHL team.
7. The Lalji Family
- Net Worth: $3.07 billion
- Industry: Hotels and hospitality
The Lalji Family came to British Columbia in the early-1970s after being banished from Uganda by dictator Idi Amin. There isn’t much information on how they started their business, but it’s clear that the family worked hard to solidify its foothold in British Columbia.
Today, the family owns the Larco Group, a major holding company that’s invested in hotels, restaurants, and commercial retail property throughout the Vancouver area. Additionally, they own many of the office high rises in the city.
8. Carl Hansen
- Net Worth: $2.18 billion
- Industry: Biotech engineering
Carl Hansen is, without a doubt, a genius. He’s the founder and CEO of AbCellera Therapeutics – a company that uses AI and machine learning to develop antibodies which can kill cancer cells, fight infectious viral diseases, and more.
He founded the company in 2012 and pursued research for it while being a professor at the University of British Columbia.
He resigned as a professor in 2019 to focus full-time on the company. Today, he and his company are both worth over a billion. He owns a lot of medical patents in the US as well, which have widespread commercial applications.
9. Brandt Louie
- Net Worth: $1.57 billion
- Industry: Convenience stores, grocery stores
Brandt Louie inherited the H. Y. Louie Group from his father, Hok Yat Louie, who founded the investment banking group.
The Louie family emigrated from China to British Columbia in 1896, where Hok Yat worked on a farm until he saved enough to open a small convenience store. He grew his fortune by investing in small retail businesses.
Today, his son Brandt Louie and the H. Y. Louie Group own one of the largest grocery store chains in Canada – IGA. The company also owns London Drugs, one of the largest online pharmacies in Canada.
10. Frank Giustra
- Net Worth: $1.2 billion
- Industry: Mining, entertainment, and film
Frank Giustra came from a humble mining family in Canada. He attended school for business and was eventually hired on as a trader by Merrill Lynch.
After building his skills and knowledge, he went on to work for Yorktown Securities, where he spent a large portion of his career moving up the corporate ladder until he was eventually elected as the CEO in 1995.
He used a lot of his money and connections to finance and invest in Canadian mining operations throughout the late-1990s. In 1997, he abruptly changed directions and created Lionsgate Entertainment, which is one of the world’s largest film companies today.
11. Hassan Khosrowshahi
- Net Worth: $1.16 billion
- Industry: Investment banking
Hassan Khosrowshahi was born in Iran to Ali Khosrowshahi, who owned a large industrial manufacturing company in Iran. During the Iranian Revolution, the business was nationalized, forcing the company to take their money and start a new life in Vancouver.
The family used the money that they brought with them and began investing into small businesses throughout British Columbia, founding a conglomerate called Persis Holdings Ltd.
Hassan, the son of the founder, created his own branch of the company, doing business as Inwest Investments Ltd. The company’s biggest deal to date was selling Future Shop to Best Buy for over $500 million in the early-2000’s.
12. Caleb & Tom Chan
- Net Worth: $1.07 billion
- Industry: Investment banking, real estate, clothing
The “Chan brothers” are some of the richest people in Vancouver. The two brothers emigrated from China to the US to attend college at UC Berkeley. Their father, Chan Shun was already a wealthy Chinese businessman who was known as the founder of Crocodile Garments Ltd.
After attending college and earning post-secondary degrees in law and business, the two brothers decided to purchase a golf course in Kelowna, BC.
From here, they founded Golf BC, which has helped build and renovate golf courses throughout the province. The two brothers also own the International Land Group, which is their US-based real estate investment venture.
13. U. Gary Charlwood
- Net Worth: $1.03 billion
- Industry: Real estate and travel
U. Gary Charlwood got into the travel industry by working for airlines. He was born in Germany, attended college in England, and then emigrated to Canada to start working for Western Airlines. Later, he was named Director of Consumer Affairs for AirCanada.
Wanting to expand his investments, he found a business partner and purchased the rights to Century 21 Canada. After building the brokerage firm into a massively successful business, Charlwood bought his partner’s shares to retain sole ownership.
Then, he started Uniglobe Travel, which went on to become a relatively large travel agency.
14. The Belkin Family
- Net Worth: $900 million
- Industry: Paper, art, forestry, investment banking
Compared to some of the billionaires on this list, a family worth $900 million may not seem like much. However, $900 million is still an incredibly large amount of money.
The Belkin Family owns Belkorp, which is a large investment banking company based out of British Columbia. Before investment banking, though, the family grew its roots in forestry and the paper industry.
Today, the Belkin family is notably invested in the art industry and owns the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery.
15. David Cheriton
- Net Worth: $6.2 billion
- Industry: Computer networking, venture capital
David Cheriton, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, stands out not just for his wealth but also for his brilliance in academia and business acumen.
A distinguished professor at Stanford University, he has made significant contributions to computer networking. Cheriton’s knack for identifying potential led him to be an early investor in a then-emerging search engine, Google. This foresight, paired with his role in co-founding the successful Arista Networks, significantly boosted his net worth.
However, despite his billionaire status, he’s celebrated for his frugality and dedication to education. He has generously donated to various educational institutions, particularly to his alma mater, the University of British Columbia.
Entrepreneurship and Innovation in BC
British Columbia has become a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, in no small part due to the investments and initiatives of some of its richest inhabitants. Individuals like Carl Hansen in biotech and Joseph Tsai in eCommerce represent the cutting-edge innovation taking place in the province.
Furthermore, their companies often collaborate with academic institutions, such as the University of British Columbia, to foster innovation and bring new technologies to market.
Entrepreneurial ventures are not just confined to technology and sciences. The beverage industry, led by Anthony Von Mandl, is an excellent example of marrying traditional craftsmanship with modern business strategies. Similarly, Chip Wilson’s influence on the fashion industry, particularly in ‘athleisure,’ also marks an entrepreneurial innovation that has had a worldwide impact.
Who Is The Wealthiest Person In Vancouver?
The wealthiest person in Vancouver, BC, is Jim Pattison of the Jim Pattison Group. Pattison is often referred to as the “Warren Buffett of Canada” due to his business savvy, financial intelligence, and history of profitable investments.
He’s a hard-working businessman who started his billion-dollar empire with a single car dealership.
British Columbia is home to some very wealthy Canadians. The city of Vancouver alone has over 20,000 millionaires.
While some of the BC billionaires we looked at inherited their money, many of them worked hard and spent their lifetimes creating a powerful businesses. It’s a good lesson in persistence and hard work.
Most of these billionaires earn residual income through their investment ventures.
To learn how to get started investing (even in a bear market) read my post outlining how to invest in a bear market next!