MR. JAMES ARMSTRONG RICHARDSON lives in Winnipeg, is head of a grain company called James Richardson and Sons, and was publicly regarded as the Midas of the West until he went off the gold standard.
In the ten years between 1919 and 1929 he accumulated probably more money than any other man in Canada has made during a similar period, and then proceeded to demonstrate he could travel in reverse with equal celerity.
He was forty-four years old in 1929, was reported to have made ten millions in nickel alone, and had a fortune estimated as at least level with Sir Herbert’s.
A surprising feature of his accumulation is that few critics have ever accused him of achieving it unfairly and, what is even more unique among financiers, there appear to be quite a number of people who will feel pleased when he regains it.
The explanation of these phenomena is probably the fact that, in the proper St. James Street sense, he is not a financier at all, as he has been known on several occasions to treat distressed investors with consideration.
He is the fourth of his family to be president of the Richardson company, having been preceded by his grand-
father, his father and his uncle.
His grandfather started the company ten years before Confederation in Kingston, Ontario—a community notable for its two co-educational institutions, both of which have several talented alumni.
A third institution of the city is a cultural establishment known as the Royal Military College, to which Miss Agnes Macphail intends to bequeath her entire estate.
His grandfather began by doing quite a nice business exporting Ontario barley to the United States, but this flopped when Washington put through the Dingley tariff in 1894.
His father then decided to see what might be done in the Western grain trade, and his uncle followed by making the company the chief instrument of the greatest wheat exporting area in the world.
He was brought up in the company himself, did not escape from Kingston until he was twenty-two and then moved to the Toronto office—a change which one would hesitate to describe as much improvement.
He stayed in Toronto, however, for only five years, went out to the company’s headquarters in Winnipeg as vicepresident in 1912, and now hardly ever comes East except when he wants some money.
For war service, he was commandeered by the Government in 1918 to superintend distribution of wheat to some 300 flour mills in Eastern Canada, and probably should have been made a brigadier-general or a colonel at least.
He became president and general manager of the Richardson company in 1919 when he was thirty-four, and was soon recognized as the biggest man in the West, which meant that he had the most money.
He thereupon was made a director of the C. P. R., Hudson’s Bay Company, International Nickel and other worthy enterprises, but does not really enjoy tne meetings
very much, his chief contribution to such assemblies' being an exhortation that they quit talking and do something.
He is also a director of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, and gets along pretty well with Sir Joseph as neither of them smokes or drinks and both of them know how to make money.
He used to have to do his buying secretly because so many people followed him in the market, but has not been troubled about this so much recently.
He enjoyed doing the things that made money, will probably do them again sometime, and in the meantime is as undisturbed about his losses as he was unexcited about his winnings.
He is still so busy with various large interests that he hardly ever gets time for any sport except hunting, golf, tennis, fishing, riding, sailing and anything else that lets him get outside.
He is six feet high, rugged, simple, genuine, and so nearly good looking that he has been almost forced to notice it himself.
He lives amid some of Winnipeg’s most distinguished citizens on Wellington Crescent, and has a nice little house containing a swimming pool.
He also has a farm out on St. Mary’s Road, and likes to get out there in the summer time to putter around the bam when he is supposed to be busy at the office.
Another of his properties consists of a large hole in the ground surrounded by a high board fence at Portage and Main, where the erection of the new office building has been a little delayed.
He still has his big office on the tenth floor of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange, and likes to look out the windows over the Red River and the stretch of prairie beyond.
He got into aviation during the boom as the quickest way to open up Northern Manitoba mining fields, has been president of Canadian Airways, Limited, since 1930, takes more pride in his pilots than in anything else, but never flies himself.
He is Chancellor of Queen’s University but doés not pretend to be much of an academician, and is the sort of man whose friends are apt to refrain from giving him a book at Christmas because he already has one.
He is not much interested in politics either, but has visited Ottawa to explain grain matters to various parliamentary committees which, after their usual custom, have done the opposite to w’hat he advised.
He believes the West is God’s country, likes to act as he thinks a Westerner should, and tries accordingly to make the handclasp a little stronger.
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