The votes are in! The winners of the Greatest Canadian Entrepreneur of All Time competition are: Wallace and (the late) Harrison McCain!
The men who made fries famous won 21% of the vote, which according to today’s Financial Post totaled 6,777 votes. Readers of this blog may remember that the McCains jumped out to an early lead (up to 39%), which caused some observers (okay, me) to wonder if enthusiastic fans of McCain’s juice boxes were also stuffing the ballot box.
Roynat, creator of the contest, made no mention of irregularities in announcing the winners today. Their statement: “While results can be interpreted many ways, and this initiative was in no way meant to be a "definitive" search for Canada's Greatest Entrepreneur of all time, the results do tell us that Canada has a great entrepreneurial spirit and no shortage of great entrepreneurs.”
In second place was this column’s favourite, Jimmy Pattison. Pattison’s Proteges managed to drive his vote total up from 7% near the beginning of the contest to 17% at the close. We almost did it, people!
Not that the McCains are unworthy winners. Far from it. Their devotion to potato products, and the strategic expansion of their food empire in underserved niches around the globe, makes them pre-eminent entrepreneurs of the world, not just in Canada.
The Post’s coverage of the winner today shows an interesting bias. They point out (in the first paragraph) that the McCains rank way down the list of Canada’s Richest Canadians (they’re 18th, in fact). That seems an odd way to measure entrepreneurial capability. That would be like ranking Canada’s greatest hockey players by their net worth; an interesting exercise, but a dubious gauge of their ability to put the puck in the net.
The Post then twists the knife by quoting a University of Toronto business historian, Joe Martin, who said, “They certainly would not have been among my top choices.” Martin cites a preference for Frank Stronach (whom this blog nominated in the contest’s early days, though no doubt we were not the only ones) and Roy Thomson (who, ironically, finished behind his son Ken).
Congrats to the McCain family and to runner-up Jim Pattison. And kudos to Roynat, for creating the contest and getting people talking about great Canadian entrepreneurs.
Here is the final ranking by percentage of votes:
Harrison and Wallace McCain - 21%
Jim Pattison - 17%
Ken Thomson - 7%
Max Ward - 7%
Alexander Graham Bell - 7%
Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis - 5%
Izzy Asper - 5%
Kenneth Colin (K.C.) Irving - 5%
Ted Rogers - 4%
Frank Stronach - 4%
Paul Desmarais Sr. - 3%
Joseph-Armand Bombardier - 3%
Ron Joyce - 3%
Roy Thomson - 2%
Galen Weston - 2%
Timothy Eaton - 2%
Terry Matthews - 1%
Frank Sobey - 1%
Samuel Bronfman - 1%
Conrad Black - 1%
For more on the contest and the winners, see http://yoce.ca/sgce/vote.winner_en.php