Billionaire Kenneth Thomson, Canada’s richest person, has died at age 82. He was ranked ninth on the Forbes magazine list of the world’s wealthiest individuals with an estimated fortune of $19.6 billion.
His family began their fortune through small radio stations in northern Ontario. After serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, Thomson attended Cambridge University and later joined his father in the newspaper business, becoming a newspaper mogul, with a stake in The Globe and Mail here in Canada and The Times in the UK.
Thomson was also a firm believer in the arts, and became the greatest benefactor to the Art Gallery of Ontario. His personal collection includes about 1,500 works by Canadian art stars, including Tom Thomson, Cornelius Krieghoff, Emily Carr and David Milne. He also broke his own auction records for the highest price ever paid for a Canadian painting.
David Silox of Sotheby’s Canada: “He was a straight, honest, affable and knowledgeable man to deal with and you could always be straightforward with him and that’s the way he liked it to be.”
[photo: Ken Thomson and Frank Ghery – Bernard Weil from The Toronto Star]