Richest People

Canada’s Richest People: Estate of Wallace McCain

Canada’s Richest People
Estate of Wallace McCain
(Photo: Moe Doiron/CP)

Estate of Wallace McCain

Net Worth:
$4.51 billion
(▲10.5% from 2017)

Rich 100 rank: #16
Change in rank from 2017: ▲1
Major company holdings: Maple Leaf Foods, McCain Foods
Location: Toronto

Maple Leaf Foods, currently under the stewardship of Wallace McCain’s son, Michael, continued tying up loose ends on a seven-year overhaul of the company’s operations. Its bakery division, Canada Bread, has been sold, factories shuttered and more than 1,000 jobs cut. But the resulting Maple Leaf is a leaner and more efficient operation, making it better able to compete with low-cost international meat processors. The centrepiece of the restructuring is a new $400-million plant in Hamilton, Ont., that can pump out 750 hot dogs per minute.

The McCain family’s success hasn’t been without conflict. Wallace McCain was exiled from McCain Foods after a family disagreement, leading him to purchase Maple Leaf Foods in 1995 in partnership with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board. Wallace served as CEO until 1999, when Michael succeeded him.

The split between Wallace and his brother, Harrison, actually concerned Michael’s suitability to take over the McCain empire. Although Maple Leaf has faced its share of challenges, Michael has proven to be an adept leader, navigating through a listeria crisis in 2008, returning the company to profitability and sending its stock price up 20% in the past year.

Updated Thursday, November 9, 2017