Memorable Manitobans: Winnipeg’s Millionaires, 1910

Reprinted from the Winnipeg Telegram, 29 January 1910 [reprinted and annotated in Alan Artibise’s 1979 book Gateway City: Documents on the City of Winnipeg, 1873-1913, published by the Manitoba Records Society.]

The conversation drifted to millionaires. Someone made the statement that Winnipeg has more millionaires than Montreal or Toronto. An argument followed:

“How many millionaires are there in Winnipeg, anyway?” someone asked.

“Fifty,” announced the real estate man with his accustomed optimism. The musician ventured five, and so the guesses ranged.

The conversation, however, set a Telegram representative thinking and he started a systematic investigation of the subject. A list was prepared of Winnipeg’s millionaires. It was revised and revised by business and financial men. Some names were added and then later dropped. The list, as it was finally made up contained nineteen names. The list, if it errs at all, errs on the side of conservatism. There are many men in Winnipeg whose wealth ranges from half a million to a million dollars and perhaps over.

It is barely possible that the list of Winnipeg millionaires could be extended to twenty-five without stretching the truth. Here is the list, though, as it was finally prepared:

That makes a list of nineteen names, a pretty creditable list of millionaires for a city the size of Winnipeg, and which a quarter of a century ago was but a speck on the map.

While there are at least nineteen millionaires, the list would probably run well up to fifty if those who are worth from a half million to a million were included and with those worth from a hundred thousand to half a million it would chase well up to several hundred.

Montreal has probably fifty millionaires. The Telegram’s Toronto correspondent in writing a list of the millionaires of the Queen City only put the list at twenty-one, so that as a city of wealth it is likely that Winnipeg is not far behind the Ontario capital.

A well-known financial man, speaking to The Telegram pointed out that it is a great deal harder to estimate the wealth of Winnipeggers than of eastern men. In the east wealthy millionaires have a large portion of their money in vested in stocks, bonds and similar securities, the value of which is easily estimated. In Winnipeg more wealth is represented by real estate. It is probably more valuable than stocks but the ready present value is a little difficult to estimate. Western men also, he pointed out, are continually launching into new enterprises, investing their money in western development schemes. The values of such propositions are hard to estimate offhand.

“Winnipeg,” he said, “is not far behind Toronto in the number of its wealthy men. It will not be many years until it will pass the Queen City and even give Montreal a close tun as a city of wealth. There are hundreds of men holding Winnipeg and western property at the present time, which if the country continues to prosper and expand will as values rise, be bound to be related as millionaires.”

Gallery revised: 8 August 2011

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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