Ontario accounts for over 38% of Canada’s national GDP, making it the economic centre of the country.
Toronto, the capital city of Ontario, is home to the highest concentration of super-wealth individuals in Canada, which has driven Toronto to become one of the most expensive cities in the country.
Have you ever wondered who the richest person in Ontario is? If so, then you’ll want to keep on reading.
Below, I’ll show you the richest person in Ontario and list 15 of the wealthiest billionaires in the province. I’ll also explain how they acquired their fortunes.
Who Is The Richest Person In Ontario?
The richest person, by far, in the province of Ontario is David Thomson. He’s the chairman of Thomson-Reuters, one of the largest investment firms in the nation, with billions of dollars worth of real estate holdings.
David Thomson also owns the Globe and Mail Inc., which is one of Canada’s largest news and media groups.
David Thomson’s net worth is estimated to be above $41.8 billion. This means that he’s not only the richest person in Ontario but he’s the wealthiest person in the entire country.
He’s more than two times richer than the next-richest billionaire in Canada – Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance (one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges) who is worth $17.4 billion.
Ontario has the highest concentration of billionaires in Canada. Many of them are more than just Canadian business owners, though. Some of the names on this list are tycoons who operate their billion-dollar empires around the globe.
Below, I’ll show you some of the richest people in Ontario and explain a bit more about what they do and how they earned their billions.
1. David Thomson
- Net Worth: $41.8 billion
- Industry: Investment banking, media
David Thomson is the wealthiest man in Canada, with an ever-growing net worth. His estimated net worth is just under $42 billion. He inherited Thomson Corporation from his father, who had already built the business into a billion-dollar international empire.
David started working in the family business as a young man. His father had him bounce around the company and learn all of the different positions, tailoring him to one day take over the company.
In addition to his duties at Thomson Corporation, David also started his own separate company – Osmington Incorporated.
Thomson-Reutrers and Osmington Incorporated are invested in large-scale agriculture, entertainment, the NHL, and more. It seems that the company doesn’t mind diversifying its investments and has its hands in multiple industries.
2. Tobi Lutke
- Net Worth: $9.8 billion
- Industry: eCommerce and software development
Tobi Lutke is the CEO of Shopify, which is one of the world’s largest eCommerce platforms. Shopify operates all around the world, and the platform makes it easy for anybody to start an online business selling their own products.
Most notably, Shopify allows dropshippers to connect their online stores directly to Alibaba and AliExpress, allowing them to streamline the process.
Tobi Lutke is originally from Germany and didn’t emigrate to Canada until 2002. Since childhood, Tobi has been interested in coding, programming, and software design.
His first exploration into eCommerce was when he helped build the code to run his and his friends’ online snowboard business. He later used the basic structural format of this code to create Shopify and allow others to follow the same system design model.
He’s just 41 years old, which makes him one of the youngest Canadian billionaires.
3. Mark Scheinberg
- Net Worth: $5.93 billion
- Industry: Software development, gambling
Another software development mogul, Mark Scheinberg, also calls Ontario home. Mark Sheinberg and his father Isai started a small software development company together in the early-2000’s called PYR.
PYR developed and sold custom gaming software to casinos once they started to adopt a more technological approach to gambling. After creating systems that were proven successful, the father-son pair decided to flip tables and started the world’s largest online gambling platform – PokerStars.com.
The Scheinbergs used the same software that they gave to brick-and-mortar casinos to create fully-functional poker algorithms, allowing players across the world to gamble and play recreationally.
4. Peter Gilgan
- Net Worth: $3.7 billion
- Industry: Real estate development
Peter Gilgan was one of nine children and grew up in a lower-middle-class family in Burlington. He knew from a young age that he wasn’t going to receive any handouts or inherit a million-dollar business from his parents. So, he decided to pursue a career as a CPA.
Around this time, Peter became interested in real estate development. He used all of his savvy with numbers combined with some innovative design ideas to create a system of real estate development that would construct high-value luxury real estate properties on small plots of land.
Today, Peter Gilgan remains the CEO of Mattamy Homes, the company he created.
5. Carlo Fidani
- Net Worth: $3.2 billion
- Industry: Real estate investment and development
Carlo Fidani became a billionaire after inheriting the Orlando Corp. – the massive real estate company that his father founded. The company didn’t start with this father, though. Instead, the company started with his grandfather, who founded Fidani & Sons in 1948.
Today, Orlando Corp. owns over 44 million square feet of real commercial and industrial real estate. Additionally, Orland Corp. invests in residential real estate development and construction.
The lesson here is that a strong family business can go a long way and can help create a legacy that will last for generations.
6. Barry Zekelman
- Net Worth: $2.78 billion
- Industry: Steel
Barry Zekelman is the president and CEO of Zekelman Industries. The family’s roots date back to 1877 when Harry Zekelman created Atlas Tube, which developed into one of Canada’s largest pipe-manufacturing plants.
The majority of the company shares were purchased by the Carlyle Group in 2006 (for a massive $1.5 billion deal).
Today, Zekelman Industries still produces steel and works closely with its parent company.
Barry Zekelman is notably a major supporter of former US President Donald Trump and supplied the United States with much of the steel it needed to begin construction on the former President’s massive US-Mexico border wall.
Recently, Zekelman was fined nearly a million dollars for illegal donations to the Trump campaign.
7. Mitchell Goldhar
- Net Worth: $2.7 billion
- Industry: Real estate investment and development
By now, you should be starting to notice a trend. Many of the richest billionaires in Ontario are heavily invested in real estate development. Mitchel Goldhar founded SmartCentres in the early 90s as a real estate investment firm.
He successfully brokered deals to build over 265 shopping centres across Canada over the next 20 years.
Goldhar is also the chairman of SmartREIT, a real estate investment trust that’s available to the public. In 2015, he sold most of the properties in the SmartCentres portfolio to the REIT, opening them up for public investment.
Goldhar also owns Maccabi Tel Aviv FC, which is Israel’s premier soccer league.
8. Bruce Flatt
- Net Worth: $2.6 billion
- Industry: Investment banking and asset management
Bruce Flatt has often been compared to America’s Warren Buffett due to his business savvy and key investment insights. Bruce was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and came up from the upper-middle class.
His father was an executive at a Manitoba-based mutual fund company, which allowed Bruce to start learning about investment from an early age.
After attending college and earning his certification as a chartered accountant, Flatt joined the investment division of Brookfield Properties. He eventually rose through the company’s ranks to become the CEO.
After becoming CEO, Bruce Flatt and his fellow chair members helped to massively expand the company. Today, Brookfield Properties is one of the largest alternative asset management groups in the world (thanks to its stake in Oaktree Capital Management).
9. Hal Jackman
- Net Worth: $2.6 billion
- Industry: Insurance
Not much is known about Hal Jackman’s early days other than the fact that he came from a wealthy family (who were Parliament members) and attended the University of Toronto and the London School of Economics.
Hal and his family are currently the largest stakeholders in E-L Financial, which is one of Canada’s larger investment banking trusts.
Additionally, Jackman also served as chairman for The Empire Life Insurance Company.
After becoming a billionaire from his successful business ventures, Hal Jackman became the lieutenant governor of Ontario. He served in this position for six years, from 1991 until 1997.
10. Mark Leonard
- Net Worth: $2.5 billion
- Industry: Software development
Mark Leonard is the chairman of Constellation Software (CSI), a company that he founded in 1995, just before the .com boom. The company invests in small software startups and mid-sized software companies, and then uses its expertise to guide the small companies into large, profitable businesses.
Currently, Constellation Software manages over 100 tech and software development firms. Since 2020, Mark Leonard has increased his net worth from $1.1 billion to $2.5 billion, which is a considerable feat during the middle of a global pandemic.
11. Stephen Smith
- Net Worth: $2.4 billion
- Industry: Investment Banking
Stephen Smith is the founder and CEO of First National Financial, which is one of Canada’s largest mortgage lenders. In just two years, his net worth has skyrocketed from $1.3 billion to $2.4 billion. Most wouldn’t believe that Smith was on the verge of bankruptcy in the late 1980s.
Smith had a strong vision, though, and despite his financial hardship was able to take First National Financial to the heights of success.
In addition to First National Stephen Smith also owns half of the shares of the Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company and is a significant shareholder in the Equitable Group.
He also owns half of Walmart Canada Bank and provided the financial backing for Peloton – one of the largest public fitness equipment brands in North America.
12. Catherine Phillips
- Net Worth: $2.2 billion
- Industry: eCommerce, investing
Catherine Phillips and her husband John Phillips don’t have the same crazy come-up story as some of the business moguls on this list. So, how did they become billionaires?
Simple – the couple both invested in Shopify. They believed in Tobi Lutke (see #2 above) business model and invested in exchange for 3% of the company. Catherine and John each own 1.5% of Shopify, and John has actively served on the company’s board of directors.
Despite her considerable wealth, Catherine Phillips remains a doctor, which was her first profession. She helps cancer patients cope with stress, and has even published a well-known book titled “Calm Your Mind, Warm Your Heart.”
13. Jack Cockwell
- Net Worth: $1.8 billion
- Industry: Investment banking
Little is known about billionaire Jack Cockwell’s youth. He’s a South African native and an accountant who used his business savvy to create the Bronfmans’ Edper conglomerate in the 1970s.
From then until the 1990s, Cockwell focused on expanding the company’s holdings with investments in mining, real estate, and even forestry.
Bronfman’s eventually became Brookfield Asset Management. Shortly after the change of name, Jack Cockwell handed control of the company over to fellow businessman Bruce Flatt (see #8 above).
His earnings and wealth today are the result of residual income from his shares in Brookfield Asset Management.
14. Micheal Lee-Chin
- Net Worth: $1.6 billion
- Industry: Investment banking
Michael Lee-Chin is a Jamaican-Canadian investor who spent his time between Jamaica and Canada. He didn’t come from a wealthy family, and his first job was working as a landscaper for a hotel. Both of his parents encouraged him to attend college for business.
He attended McMaster University for civil engineering after receiving a grant from the Jamaican government.
Unfortunately, he was unable to find steady employment in Jamaica and returned to Canada, where he earned a graduate degree in business. From there, Michael became interested in investment banking and was hired by the Investors Group as a financial advisor.
After working and building capital, Michael Lee-Chin was able to receive a loan from CBC in the amount of $500,000, which he used to purchase a significant stake in Mackenzie Financial Group and Kicks Athletics.
Over several years, his half-million-dollar investment turned into $3.5 million. He knew exactly what he was doing when he invested and waited till the right time. This is why investors need to be patient, above all else.
Over the next few years, he purchased and sold several other businesses and investment firms.
Today, he’s the founder and CEO of Portland Holdings Inc., where most of his wealth stems.
- Net Worth: $1.4 billion
- Industry: Investment banking, technology, software
Sir Terrance Mathews (yes, he’s also an honorary knight)is a tech billionaire who’s known for his serial investment strategy. Simply put, he finds small tech companies, injects them with money, and sets them on the right path. Then, he sells the companies for a profit.
Terrance Mathews has dual Canadian-Welsh citizenship. When he reached billionaire status, he became Wales’ first (and only) billionaire, until he was surpassed by Welsh billionaire and venture capitalist, Michael Moritz.
To date, Sir Mathews has either founded or helped fund over 100 tech companies. Founding just one successful company is a feat in itself, so I have enormous respect for his hustle.
Many of his tech investments are made through investment groups through Celtic House International Corporation (which he’s co-founder of) or Wesley Clover, which he is currently chairman of.
Wesley Clover is headquartered in Ottawa, but has offices throughout Canada, the US, India, China, the UK, and even Russia.
In addition to his billion-dollar tech portfolio, Terrance Mathews is an involved philanthropist and has invested heavily into cancer research, entrepreneurship grants, and education.
Most notably, the Wesley Clover Foundation founded the Wesley Clover Parks, a string of public parks and playgrounds that can be found throughout Ottawa.
Many of Canada’s billionaires live in Toronto, which beats Vancouver as the most expensive city in Canada. Some of the other Ontario cities that are known for being home to Canada’s ultra-rich include:
- Burlington, Ontario
- Guelph, Ontario
- Oshawa, Ontario
- Ottawa, Ontario
While some wealthy business owners and celebrities enjoy being close to the city of Toronto, others prefer the peace and solitude of more quiet towns like Guelph.
David Thomson (who’s also the richest person in Ontario) and his immediate family are the richest family in Ontario. Thomson lives in the exclusive Rosedale neighborhood of Toronto, and his home is reported to have a large underground art gallery, which houses some of the most expensive works of art in the world.
Unfortunately, it seems like the family’s incredible wealth has led to not-so-happy family life.
The family members are distant from one another. Most notably, perhaps, was the fact that David Thomson filed for a divorce from his wife, Laurie Ludwick, (via a courier-delivered letter) just days after she gave birth and returned home from the hospital.
Only time can tell what will happen to the heirs of the Thomson fortune.
Canada has a lot of billionaires. David Thomson tops the list as the richest Canadian, with an estimated net worth of $41.8 billion.
However, his fortune pales compared to Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $241 billion.
Although Musk is a US citizen, many forget that he started his journey in Canada. Although Musk was born in South Africa, he was allowed to emigrate to Canada thanks to his mother’s Canadian citizenship.
He attended Queen’s University in Ontario, working odd jobs (most notably, in a lumber mill) in Saskatchewan during the summers.
Later he moved to the US to pursue a graduate degree in physics at the University of Pennsylvania before moving to California and founding Zip2 and X.com (an online bank that eventually became PayPal).
Selling both of these companies raised Elon Musk’s net worth to over $500 million, which he used to found Tesla and SpaceX.
Toronto is home to more billionaires than any other city in Canada. Because of this, Ontario’s GDP is higher than any other province in Canada. Most notably, Toronto was named the 13th wealthiest city in the entire world.
Investing is how many of the billionaires on this list became rich. You won’t get rich overnight, but if you’re consistent and make smart moves, you could stand to build a fortune over the course of your career.
To get started with your investing journey, be sure to check out my list of the best Canadian financial ETFs to invest in!