Richest People

Canada’s Richest People: John Risley

Canada’s Richest People
John Risley
(Photo: Aaron McKenzie Fraser)

John Risley

Net Worth:
$1.21 billion
(▼14.8% from 2017)

Rich 100 rank: #88
Change in rank from 2017: ▼18
Major company holdings: Clearwater Seafoods, Columbus Communications
Location: Chester, N.S.
Age: 69

John Risley’s best-known product may be seafood, but after co-founding Clearwater Fine Foods, he moved on to nonfishy fare. In November 2015, British cable TV provider Liberty Global bought Cable & Wireless, a company based in London, U.K., of which Risley was the largest shareholder—a stake he received following C&W’s own acquisition of Risley’s Columbus Communications the previous year. The resulting investment is worth around $1 billion. Risley is also an investor in Atlantic Canadian startups and a philanthropist: In September 2016, he gave $25 million to the Dalhousie University–based Ocean Frontier Institute, a research centre.

Risley is doing his part to ensure the next generation is just as successful as he is. Not only is he chairman of Futurpreneur Canada, a non-profit group that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18 to 39, but he also directly mentors and invests in a handful of companies he’s particularly passionate about. Risley openly challenges his peers to become mentors as well. “If you had 1,000 guys like me doing this across the country and each one of them mentored five or six businesses, that’s pretty significant,” he says.

Updated Thursday, November 9, 2017