Montreal might not be the biggest city in Canada, but it is home to some of the richest people in Canada. These are the titans of their respective industries, all of whom built their empires from the ground up, that are now worth, not millions, but billions of dollars.
We love a good rags to riches story, so it only makes sense that Montreal's wealthiest came from humble beginnings.
Lino Saputo found his humble beginnings in Sicily, delivering his father's specialty mozzerella to local clients, which he later brought with him to Canada after immigrating in the 1950's. Saputo is now the world’s eighth largest dairy producer and own Saputo Stadium and the Montreal Impact soccer team, as well as Italian club Bologna.
2. The Desmarais Family
Overall rank in Canada: 7
Paul Desmarais began his career at a Montreal accounting firm and then later owned his father's almost bankrupt railroad and bus line. He would spend the following years acquiring additional bus lines and the Trans-Canada Corporation Fund, until finally being crowned Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Power Corporation of Canada. Succeeded by his two sons, Paul Jr. and André, Power Corp remains a major international financial services conglomerate.
3. Jean Coutu
Worth: $3.21 billion
Overall rank in Canada: 18
Quebec's best known pharmacist, Jean Coutu began his retail empire on good old fashion branding and friendly service, offering better prices and hours than his competition. The Jean Coutu Group, at one point, was the second-largest distributor and retailer of pharmaceuticals and related products in North America.
4. The Azrieli Family
Worth: $3.12 billion
Overall rank in Canada: 19
David Azrieli, often reffered to as the king of shopping centres, escaped Poland as a teen during the Holocaust and would go on to fight in Israel’s War of Independence. After immigrating to Montreal in 1954, Azrieli started a real estate empire that would grow to include interests in Canada, the U.S. and Israel, with the Azrieli Group eventually becoming what was the largest IPO in the history of the Tel Aviv exchange when it started trading publicly in 2010. The Azrieli Group is succeeded today by daughters, Sharon, Naomi and Danna Azrieli.
5. Guy Laliberté
Worth: $2.32 billion
Overall rank in Canada: 34
Guy Laliberté started busking as an accordion player and stilt-walker, with his small troupe of circus troubadours, eventually turning it into one of the most recognized and successful brands in the world today. The founder and CEO of Cirque de Soleil has since produced shows that have been seen by more than 90 million people worldwide, finished fourth in the World Poker Tour Season Five, and even visited the International Space Station.
John Molson was among the first British Loyalists to immigrate to Canada, settling in Montreal in 1782. With a huge demand for beer by the influx of immigrants at the time, he built what became the largest brewing company in Canada, which financed his first steamboat, and was also responsible for building the first railroad. His sons would go on to establish Molson's Bank. Apart from the beer, The Molson Family today are best known for owning the Montreal Canadiens.
Montreal is certainly no stranger to a traffic jam, which makes taking public transit a more viable option to not only get around faster but do more good for the environment.
As Canadian cities take the initiative to improve their transit systems and reduce their carbon footprints, Montreal has become one of the country's greenest metropolitan areas when it comes to transport, according to one ranking.
A December report from Kijiji Autos analyzed green transport options in Canada's most populated cities, evaluating their use of electric cars, bikes, scooters, and the number of electric charging stations.
With its metro and bus systems, BIXI rentals, bike lanes, and availability of electric cars, Montreal found itself in third place among Canadian cities that offer the greenest transport with a score of 5.5/10.
Although Vancouver and Ottawa/Gatineau snagged the top two spots, Montreal takes the lead as the most bicycle-friendly city in all of North America, with a total of 2,163 bicycle paths, says the Copenhagenize Index.
Montreal's third-place ranking is encouraging news, said McGill University Assistant Professor of Geography, Grant McKenzie, who specifically boasted about Montreal's metro system, "especially compared to other Canadian cities," as well as its "substantial investment towards electric buses."
While McKenzie said "we can always do better" and bemoaned the city's ban on e-scooters, he called the popularity of the BIXI and the inclusion of electric bikes in its fleet an "excellent move in the right direction."
As for electric cars, Kijiji Autos looked at new registrations of electric vehicles in the first quarter of 2021, as well as total charging stations. Montreal landed second to Toronto with a total of 3,633 new registered electric cars, and 1,258 electric charging stations throughout the city.
Kijiji Autos also looked at the number of hybrids and electric vehicles for sale on their platform. Montreal led the way with 1,063 hybrid vehicles and 375 electric vehicles, states the report.
With the province of Quebec offering residents a rebate for the purchase or lease of electric cars, Quebec estimates that there will be 1.5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.
Women will lead five of Quebec's eight largest cities following the 2021 municipal elections.
The biggest headline of the night may have been Valérie Plante's triumph over old foe Denis Coderre in Montreal, but across the province, the faces of municipal politics have become more gender-balanced.
According to the latest counts and projections, France Bélisle (Gatineau), Catherine Fournier (Longueuil), Évelyne Beaudin (Sherbrooke) and Julie Dufour (Saguenay) are all also on their way to their respective (and figurative) city hall corner offices.
In Quebec City, it seemed for a while like Marie-Josée Savard would join them. Multiple outlets had even called the election for her until the vote count for her opponent surged into the evening. Bruno Marchand ultimately claimed victory.
Mayor Plante commented on the historic nature of her second mandate in her victory speech Sunday night.
"Four years ago, Montrealers elected the first woman mayor in the history of the City of Montreal," she said.
"Tonight, they told us again, 'yes, this mayor, we're going to continue to work with her, we trust her!'"
This year, for the first time, Montrealers will have two women leading the city, as Projet Montréal's Dominique Ollivier is set to take over as president of the Executive Committee.
The government is in the process of filling a Service Canada job bank and it's advertising salaries of between $61,152 and $65,887.
On an online recruitment page, the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) office says it needs to fill 45 benefits officer and program officer positions in Quebec and encourages qualified individuals to apply.
The only education requirement is a high school diploma.
While benefits officers review and process employment insurance applications, the government describes a wide range of duties for program officers, including coordination with local stakeholders regarding services from the ESDC.
Service Canada says it has EI processing centres and "program branches" in Montreal, Laval, Boucherville, Drummondville, Thetford Mines, Shawinigan, Quebec City and Saguenay, but that it may assign alternative workplaces to applicants who don't live in these areas.
In addition to a high school diploma, Service Canada is looking for applicants who have experience totalling six months "in delivering services or programs to the general public" or "interpreting and applying legislation or policies."
The language requirement is either French-only or French and English, depending on the position, according to the recruitment page.
Complete details about the positions available and the application process are online.
To the surprise of many, Quebec City also made the Top 10 — and it ranked higher than Montreal, with Quebec City at #4 and Montreal at #6.
This ranking looked at the cost of living, internet speeds, the percentage of young people, levels of safety, and more.
Our province may have been blessed enough to score two top spots in this ranking, but we still didn't make it to #1, which was Tokyo, Japan.
If ever you were thinking of going to study abroad, you may want to put Tokyo high on your list, considering it "ranks well in nearly all categories helping it to come out on top of the study. It has a good amount of high-ranking unis, great food options, and offers cheap tech. It has high levels of free speech and is above average for safety and high-ranking institutions."