Canada’s Richest People 2015: Meet Sherry Brydson, Canada’s Richest Woman

A longtime activist and entrepreneur, she owns the biggest single stake in the family fortune

UPDATED for 2018!: Canada’s Richest People — The Top 25

Sherry Brydson, Canada’s richest woman

The biggest single stake in Woodbridge—the holding company that contains the Thomson Family’s tremendous wealth—is owned by Sherry Brydson, the only child of Irma Thomson, one of Roy Thomsons’s two daughters. Her 23% share in the company, along with her other business interests, puts her net worth at an estimated $6.6 billion.

Sherry Brydson in 1970

Sherry Brydson speaking at the Canadian Conference on Social Welfare in 1970. (Reg Innell/Toronto Star/Getty)

Canada’s richest woman was a political science and economics student at the University of Toronto in the 1960s. While there, she wrote for the school newspaper, The Varsity, and participated in the 1970 Abortion Caravan, in which hundreds of women trekked from British Columbia to Ottawa’s Parliament Hill to protest the country’s strict abortion laws. (Brydson was one of 30 women who chained themselves to the seats in the House of Commons in dissent.)

When she left university, Brydson worked as a journalist in Australia and travelled to Thailand, where she became enamoured with Thai culture. In 1979, she purchased a derelict Toronto hotel and renovated it to open a women’s networking club. She later expanded the space to include a Thai restaurant and a spa, called the Elmwood. Both of which still exist today.

Brydson has also dabbled in real estate and oil and gas. One of her higher-profile portfolio companies is Viking Air, which, in 2008, revived production of the Twin Otter airplane. The following year, she contributed to the YWCA to build the Elm Centre, an affordable housing complex for women in downtown Toronto. Through a spokesperson, Brydson declined an interview request. She is a Thomson, after all.

Watch a YWCA “Woman of Distinction” profile of Sherry Brydson:

More of the Thomson family:

Taylor Thomson

David Thomson’s younger sister lives in the United States and has tried her hand at acting. She had a credit for voice work on the 1996 video game Privateer 2: The Darkening, alongside Christopher Walken, Clive Owen and John Hurt.

Peter Thomson

David’s younger brother sits with him on the Thomson Reuters board and serves as chairman of Woodbridge. For fun, Peter races cars and is the lead driver on the Thomson Motorsport rally car team. Like David and sister Taylor, he owns a 14% stake in Woodbridge, worth an estimated $3.89 billion.

Linda Campbell, Gaye Farncombe, and Susan Grange

These cousins each own an 11% stake in Woodbridge, which amounts to $3 billion each. They keep a low profile, but have emerged publicly for philanthropic activities. In 2011, they gave $30 million to establish the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Susan and her husband, John, also operate a 500-acre horse farm in Caledon, Ont. (named Lothlorien, after a forested Elven realm in The Lord of the Rings), and a smaller facility in Florida.

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