New Brunswick's powerful Irving family has landed in second place on the latest list of the wealthiest Canadians after the industrial giant's combined wealth soared in the last year.
Canadian Business magazine's annual report on the wealthiest Canadians showed the combined worth of James, Arthur and John Irving as $7.11 billion, a 34 per cent increase from 2007.
That spike in wealth saw the Irvings jump to No. 2 in the magazine's Rich 100 rankings, from fifth place a year ago. The industrial family, whose companies span forestry, oil, transportation and newspapers, is now only behind the Thompson family, whose net worth is $18.45 billion.
In the magazine's profile, it highlighted the partnership between BP and Irving Oil Ltd. to build a second oil refinery in Saint John. A final decision on the $7-billion project will be announced next year but Irving Oil confirmed last week that the project would be constructed in two three- to four-year phases instead of the originally planned four years.
It also cited the recent go-ahead Irving Oil received from the New Brunswick government to explore the potential of tidal power development in the Bay of Fundy.
Closely behind the Irving family, is grocery magnate Galen Weston, who is worth $6.58 billion, the late Ted Rogers of Rogers Communications, at $5.05 billion, and Jimmy Pattison of the Jim Pattison Group, at $4.93 billion.
The list showed there are now 55 Canadian billionaires, up from 54 last year. Although there are more billionaires in Canada this year, the combined net wealth of the top 10 was $61.5 billion, down from more than $72 billion last year.
Canadian Business magazine says it comes up with its values by examining proxy statements, insider-trading reports and other sources.
New Brunswick had another family in the top 100. For the second straight year, the Harrison McCain family found itself ranked as 21 on the list, with a net worth of $2.11 billion.
While some Canadians, like the Irvings, are seeing significant gains in their wealth, the year did not go so well for many others.
Robert Friedland of Ivanhoe Mines is now worth $500 million, a drop of 70 per cent from his wealth since 2007. Research In Motion co-founder Jim Balsillie dropped out of the ranking's top 10. Balsillie is estimated to be worth $2.37 billion, a drop of 41 per cent in the last year.