In recent years, Canada has surpassed the U.S. in the popular imagination as the land of opportunity.

And yet, while the country has its fair share of billionaires, only a small portion of them made their own wealth through savvy opportunities from humble beginnings.

ALSO READ: Montreal's 5 Most Racist Monuments

Among those individuals, there are some incredible stories.

Here are the 9 wealthiest self-starters in Canada alive right now and how they got their starts:

Via Atlas Media

9. Aldo Bensadoun

Net worth: $2.03 billion

The founder of the famous shoe store chain of the same name got his start with a single, small shop in Montreal.


Via The Israel Academy

8. Marcel Adams

Net worth: $2.05 billion

The billionaire has had an incredible life trajectory. After surviving a Nazi death camp, Adams moved to Québec City where he worked in a small leather shop. He began buying properties while working as a tanner, slowly accumulating the wealth that is now his fortune.


Via ticketbooth

7. Jack Cowin

Net worth: $2.08 billion

Cowin got his start in the fast-food industry by opening the first KFC franchise in Australia.


Via Haskayne School of Business

6. Stephen Jarislowsky

Net worth: $2.11 billion

Jarislowky was a U.S. army officer before founding Jarislowsky Fraser, then a small consulting firm.


Via Qualtrics

5. Stewart Butterfield

Net worth: $2.14 billion

Butterfield founded Flikr and Slack. The then scrappy start-ups are now a major website and software.


Via Lune Rouge

4. Guy Laliberté

Net worth: $2.14 billion

The founder of Cirque du Soleil began as a street performer in Québec City.


Via Mandeville Holdings Inc.

3. Michael Lee-Chin

Net worth: $3.95 billion

Forty years ago, Lee-Chin worked as a bellman on a cruise ship.


Via EEBeauce

2. Alain Bouchard

Net worth: $4.13 billion

Bouchard began the popular convenience store chain Couch-Tard with a single shop.


Via CKNW980

1. James Pattison

Net worth: $6.41 billion

Pattison's wealth can be traced to the selling of a single car. Before that he sold donuts, delivered newspapers, and worked in a cannery.

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