MANITOBA is about to get its own Business Hall of Fame.
Junior Achievement Manitoba (JAM) is setting up a Manitoba Business Hall of Fame to honour some of the province's most accomplished business leaders, past and present.
Manitoba becomes the seventh province to get its own Business Hall of Fame since Junior Achievement of Canada got the ball rolling in 1979 with the creation of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame in Toronto.
JAM president and CEO Greg Leipsic said the first six inductees, who are all deceased, will be honoured at a gala Hall of Fame dinner to be held May 30 at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre in downtown Winnipeg.
He said the plan is to make the dinner an annual fundraising event for JAM, and to add three more inductees to the hall each year.
The first six inductees include two members of Winnipeg's Richardson family -- James Armstrong Sr. and Muriel -- media mogul Izzy Asper, politician/newspaper owner Sir Clifford Sifton, entrepreneur/arts patron Albert Cohen and whiskey baron Samuel Bronfman.
The six inductees are among a total of nine Manitobans who have already been inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. The plan is to induct the other three -- Gerald Schwartz, David Culver and Ian David Sinclair -- into the Manitoba Business Hall of Fame in 2014.
Leipsic said the idea of creating a Manitoba Business Hall of Fame was already under discussion when he became JAM president and CEO about 16 months ago. Subsequent discussions with JA officials in Alberta and Saskatchewan convinced him it was time to take the plunge.
"The first thing they said to me was, 'Greg, you've got to get this thing established,' " he said. "So I came back and looked at the situation and said 'This is a fantastic opportunity.' "
He said an annual Hall of Fame dinner will give JAM the fundraising and profile-boosting event it has long needed.
"There currently is no significant event to raise money and to get the JA name out there."
Leipsic said JAM officials want to find a permanent home for the Hall of Fame display. British Columbia has its hall in the Vancouver Convention Centre, while Alberta's hall is housed in a retail mall in downtown Calgary.
He said the Winnipeg Convention Centre and the Winnipeg Square shopping mall have been suggested as potential sites for Manitoba's hall. JAM officials plan to establish a business advisory group to help select the right site.
"I would love to say we could have this (a permanent site) in place for the spring of 2014. But again, it's finding the right spot and then working with the owner of that spot... "
Local biz legends
THE first six inductees into the Manitoba Business Hall of Fame:
James Armstrong Richardson Sr. -- Business and aviation pioneer who was born in Kingston, Ont., but lived most of his life in Winnipeg. Became president of his family's grain company, James Richardson & Sons, in 1919 and moved the firm's head office to Winnipeg in 1923. Founded Western Canadian Airlines three years later and helped open up the mining industry in Canada's North. Canadian Airlines was also instrumental in creating a transcontinental air system that later became Trans-Canada Air Lines and then Air Canada. Winnipeg's airport is named in his honour.
Muriel Richardson -- Wife of James and president of James Richardson & Sons from his death in 1939 until 1966. Often referred to as the first lady of Canadian business because she was the first woman to lead a major Canadian company.
Sir Clifford Sifton -- Liberal Member of Parliament for Brandon from 1896 to 1911 and minster of the interior in the Laurier government from 1896 to 1905. Implemented a vigorous federal immigration policy which brought many newcomers to Western Canada, and later became owner of the Manitoba Free Press (later renamed the Winnipeg Free Press).
Samuel Bronfman -- Grew up in Brandon. Was involved with his family in the hotel industry until 1924, when he got into the distillery business with the founding of the Distillers Corporation, forerunner to the Seagram Company. Seagram became one of the world's largest liquor-distilling firms with 38 distilleries in 13 countries. Bronfman served as its president for 47 years.
Albert Cohen -- Trailblazing Winnipeg entrepreneur who, along with his five brothers, co-founded General Distributors (an import/distribution business that was later renamed Gendis Inc.) in 1939. Introduced the Sony transistor radio and Paper-Mate pens to Canada in the 1950s and branched into the retail business with the SAAN, Metropolitan, Greenberg and Pomme Rouge (Red Apple) department store chains. Also a longtime supporter and leader within the local arts community.
Israel (Izzy) Asper -- Lawyer, one-time Manitoba Liberal leader and longtime media mogul who started out with a single TV station in Winnipeg (CKND) in 1975 and built it into a national media empire that included the Global Television Network and the Canwest newspaper chain. Also the original driving force behind the establishment of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
-- sources: Junior Achievement Manitoba, Winnipeg Free Press