Ken Thomson still the richest man in Canada

Thomson, Weston, the Irving family remain among the richest people in Canada, according to Canadian Business magazine

Newspaper publisher — and art collector — Ken Thomson is still the richest man in Canada, according to the latest ranking of the very, very rich by Canadian Business magazine. And number 2 doesn't even come close.

Thomson, the media magnate who has fingers in a host of companies from newspapers, – including a portion of the Globe and Mail and several U.S. papers– to electronic directories and real estate is worth more than $22 billion.

Runner-up Galen Weston, the supermarket tycoon who once told his wife-to-be that he was "a greengrocer's son," is worth a mere $9.3 billion. His wife is Hilary Weston, the former lieutenant-governor of Ontario.

The Westons dine with royalty when not running the company store, but that is not true of the Irving family, the reclusive paper, lumber, oil and farming magnates who stay close to home in Saint John, N.B., where they keep an eye on their $5.4-billion.

The family patriarch, Kenneth (K.C.) died in 1992 at the age of 93, but his three sons continue to run the family empire. James (J.K.), the eldest son, is in charge of forestry operations, frozen food and shipbuilding. Arthur runs Irving Oil and Jack looks after construction and engineering.

They claimed the third spot.

Jeff Skoll — at number four — is probably the least-known member of the top five Canadians. But his company name has become one of the most familiar in Canada, if not the world.

A native of Montreal, Skoll moved to California where he founded EBay, the electronic auction market and the starting point for a bank balance that is currently estimated at about $5.1 billion.

That leaves Jimmy Pattison as the poorest of the top-five Canadians. But the Vancouver business baron isn't crying. He's worth an estimated $4.5 billion, up eight per cent over the past year.

Canada's very rich have a finger in a lot of Canadian pies. But they don't do badly on the world scene either.

Thomson ranked 15th on the Forbes magazine list when it came out last March, while Weston was 35 and Skoll 94th.

A surprising number of Canadians took their place on the Forbes list. Quebec power broker Paul Desmarais has $3.3 billion (U.S.) and whisky heir Charles Bronfman $2.8 billion (U.S.). Several Canadians ranked in the low-$2 billion category, including mutual-fund player Michael Lee-Chin, generic drug-maker Barry Sherman, media mogul Ted Rogers and the Saputo family, makers of Italian-style cheese.

There were several newcomers on the Canadian Business list, but they are not household names. Alexander Schnaider heads Midland Resources Holding Ltd., a position that helped him rank as the 20th richest man in Canada, while John MacBain has climbed to 27th, thanks to the Auto Trader empire he built by advertising secondhand cars.

Fame doesn't necessarily mean super-wealth, but it helps. Cirque du Soleil gave founder Guy Laliberte a leg-up into the $1 billion category, but Quebec singer Celine Dion fell out of the top-100 richest Canadians to rank 101st, while actor Keanu Reeves fell off the list. He ranked 100th last year.

Researchers at Canadian Business compiled their wealth estimates after poring over a large stack of company proxies, news clippings and trading reports.