Seymour Schulich is not only an investor in some of Canada's most successful companies, he's also an investor in Canada's future generations. Over the past nine years, he has donated more than $75 million, mostly to Canadian universities, including his most recent gift, in April, of $26 million, to the University of Western Ontario School of Medicine–the largest donation the institution has ever received. But rather than endow a high-profile research chair or construct a new building, Schulich's gift will give more than 100 of Western's neediest medical students funding of between $15,000 and $20,000 per year. “There are quite a few people on your rich guys list who aren't pulling their weight,” he chides.
Earmarking the money for scholarships was an easy decision: Schulich himself benefited from a $2,000 scholarship in 1963 when he was studying for his MBA at McGill University. He invested that money in companies such as Murphy Oil, whose executives he met at job interviews. He more than doubled his original investment and paid for his tuition, as well as a three-month trip to Europe. “That money changed my life,” says Schulich. “You could say it was the most important $2,000 I ever made.”
Over the years, Schulich has become one of Canada's most successful investors. A $1,000 stake in Franco-Nevada Mining Corp. Ltd. in 1983 would now be worth $1.3 million. In 2002, Newmont Mining Corp. bought Franco-Nevada and another company to become the world's largest gold producer. And while Schulich continues to serve on Newmont's board and is chairman of its merchant banking division, an increasing amount of his time is devoted to philanthropy. “With all the due diligence you have to do to make sure your gift accomplishes what you want it to do, it's easier making the money than giving it away,” he says.
Despite Schulich's generosity, his shrewd investment in the Alberta oilsands helped him move up 10 spots since our last annual ranking of Canada's wealthiest. Both Newmont and Schulich have invested heavily in Canadian Oil Sands Trust, the value of which has increased substantially over the past year as the price of oil spiked.
Aside from the donation to Western, Schulich has given multimillion-dollar gifts to, among others, the Schulich School of Business at York University, and the Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, to create the Schulich Heart Centre–and there is more to come. “In the next two years, I expect to donate another $45 million or $50 million,” he says. “You can give your time, your talent or your treasure. Giving your treasure is really the easiest thing to give.”