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How J.P. Bickell helped shape Toronto, from Famous Players to the Maple Leafs

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John Paris Bickell’s life started with loss. However it might by no means maintain him again.

Born in Molesworth, Ont., and raised in Toronto, Bickell, mostly often known as J.P. or Jack, would develop as much as run his personal brokerage agency by 23, turn into a millionaire earlier than 30, function an proprietor and director of the Toronto Maple Leafs — spearheading the development of Maple Leaf Gardens — and contribute considerably to the struggle effort. 

His affect touched the mining, banking and film industries in Canada and his philanthropy profoundly impacted medical analysis and youngsters’s well being for years to return. But for Bickell, family identify standing by no means fairly got here, even in dying.

“If anyone in Canada has owned gold, silver, flown in a aircraft, been in a sporting occasion, been in a hospital or benefited from medical analysis, been in a film theatre, you’ve gotten been touched by J.P. Bickell,” says Graham MacLachlan, who co-authored a guide printed in September titled J.P. Bickell: The Life, the Leafs and the Legacy.

 J.P. Bickell holds five gold bars while the McIntyre Mines' board of directors looks on.
J.P. Bickell holds 5 gold bars whereas the McIntyre Mines’ board of administrators appears on.  (J.P. Bickell: The Life, the Leaf and the Legacy)  

MacLachlan, a primary cousin to Bickell twice eliminated, spent years researching his distant relative, who by no means married nor had youngsters of his personal. From hockey to mining to philanthropy and past, he was struck by the variety of distinct industries he so prominently influenced within the early 20th century.

“I simply saved saying this could’t be the identical man as a result of it’s too exceptional,” MacLachlan mentioned. “The entire story’s ridiculous. It simply goes on and on.”

Born in 1884, Bickell was 6 years outdated when his father, David Bickell Sr., died of irritation of the intestines and stomach at age 35. Two years later, his youthful brother, David Jr., died. He was 4 years outdated.

His elder brother, James, would die 5 years later on the age of 14 of appendicitis, leaving 13-year-old J.P., his mom Annie and child sister Marjorie. As the person of the home, Bickell set to work. 

After graduating from St. Andrew’s School and dealing on the flooring of the grain trade in Chicago, Bickell established his personal monetary brokerage enterprise in 1907, buying and selling on behalf of massive American spenders. 

He offered his agency in 1919 (however would stay energetic within the sector, changing into a senior companion in New York brokerage agency Thomson McKinnon in 1926) to concentrate on his mining pursuits, having invested in McIntyre Porcupine Mines Ltd. in Schumacher, Ont., in 1911. 

Bickell made a lot of his fortune serving as president and later chairman of the gold mine. It earned him a spot within the Canadian Mining Corridor of Fame. Beneath Bickell’s management, the 25-hectare (64-acre) McIntyre mine grew to about 580 hectares (1,436 acres). Complete manufacturing was valued at $230 million between 1912 and 1955, and by the point of Bickell’s dying in 1951, shareholders had been paid greater than $62 million in dividends.

“Every part the person touched actually turned to gold,” MacLachlan says. 

Like many mining magnates of his time, Bickell added hockey to his portfolio. Together with Nathan Nathanson, with whom he would assist set up and run the Well-known Gamers film theatre chain, Bickell at age 40, led a partnership that bought the Toronto St. Patricks hockey workforce.

John Paris Bickell was born in 1884.
John Paris Bickell was born in 1884.
  (J.P. Bickell: The Life, the Leaf and the Legacy)  

MacLachlan contends that the mythology surrounding the membership oversells the function of Conn Smythe, who Bickell introduced aboard a couple of years later, and undersells that of Bickell. At Bickell’s course, the 2 would fend off a Philadelphia group making an attempt to buy and relocate the workforce by arranging for added monetary backing.

For Bickell, who would function majority proprietor, president, chairman and director of the workforce for the remainder of his life, being a part of seven Stanley Cups alongside the best way, the enterprise was a matter of civic delight. 

“He was all about civic responsibility and he was a sportsman,” MacLachlan says. “He was supposedly the biggest taxpayer in Canada for a lot of years, and he’s quoted as saying he was joyful and proud to pay his taxes. He was such a Canadian patriot. Every part concerned the Maple Leaf.” 

Beneath his management, the workforce was rebranded the Toronto Maple Leafs, and shortly moved right into a glamorous new enviornment known as Maple Leaf Gardens. Bickell had known as in favours to build up the $900,000 wanted to fund the brand new constructing, for which he was appointed its first president.

J.P. Bickell lays the cornerstone of Maple Leaf Gardens with Lieutenant-Governor W.D. Ross on Sept. 22, 1931.
J.P. Bickell lays the cornerstone of Maple Leaf Gardens with Lieutenant-Governor W.D. Ross on Sept. 22, 1931.  (J.P. Bickell: The Life, the Leaf and the Legacy)  
At a Toronto Maple Leafs game, players stand with Lieut-Gov. Herbert A. Bruce, J.P. Bickell, second from right, and Frank Calder, the president of the NHL.
At a Toronto Maple Leafs recreation, gamers stand with Lieut-Gov. Herbert A. Bruce, J.P. Bickell, second from proper, and Frank Calder, the president of the NHL.  (J.P. Bickell: The Life, the Leaf and the Legacy)  

“You can say, with out exaggerating, that Bickell was the cornerstone of the entire challenge,” Smythe would inform Toronto Each day Star sportswriter Milt Dunnell, following Bickell’s dying.

Bickell, or “Smiling Jack” as he was nicknamed, didn’t cease at hockey. He’d function a buddy and confidante to Ontario Premier Michell Hepburn, board member of the Wellesley Hospital and director of the Canadian Financial institution of Commerce (now CIBC), Artwork Gallery of Toronto (now Artwork Gallery of Ontario), Nationwide Belief Firm (now Scotiabank) and Worldwide Nickel Firm of Canada. Later in life, he helped set up plane producer A.V. Roe Canada.

Through the Second World Struggle, he labored as a “dollar-a-year man” and shaped the “4 Busy B’s” in England, together with Lord Beaverbrook, former Canadian prime minister R.B. Bennett and Beverly Baxter. Bickell’s function targeted on transferring plane from factories to airfields, a job key to stopping Hitler’s purpose of invading the UK. Bickell additionally served as president of Victory Plane, which constructed and delivered Lancaster bombers to the Allies. 

The J.P. Bickell Memorial Award from the 1960s. The award was created in Bickell's honour to recognize Maple Leafs players for outstanding service to the organization.
The J.P. Bickell Memorial Award from the 1960s. The award was created in Bickell’s honour to acknowledge Maple Leafs gamers for excellent service to the group.  (J.P. Bickell: The Life, the Leaf and the Legacy)  

The ultimate act of an illustrious life not solely performed into Bickell’s delight as a Canadian, but in addition paid tribute to his late brothers and father.

Upon his dying, a $13 million bequeathal established the J.P. Bickell Basis, which since its inception has generated greater than $160 million for charitable grants. His “true ardour” being youngsters and well being analysis, almost half of that sum has gone to the Hospital for Sick Kids, serving to to determine a analysis institute.

“In the event you consider Sick Youngsters Hospital, you need to assume J.P. Bickell,” MacLachlan says. “It was actually to honour his household.”

Learn extra:

35 years ago, Delia Adriano was dropped off in front of her Oakville home but she never made it inside

Once Upon A City: Poor house helped Toronto’s destitute

150 years ago, a Toronto reverend wanted to educate his four daughters so he founded Bishop Strachan all-girls’ school

Share your story recommendations at OnceUponACity@thestar.ca. To learn extra tales on As soon as Upon A Metropolis, click on right here https://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/once-upon-a-city-archives.html. To buy or browse extra images go to starstore.ca/collections/once-upon-a-city, or go to us on Fb at fb.com/TorontoStarArchives or on Twitter: @StarHistoricPix.



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