John Paris Bickell’s life began with loss. But it would never hold him back. Born in Molesworth, Ont., and raised in Toronto, Bickell, most commonly known as J.P. or Jack, would grow up to run his own brokerage firm by 23, become a millionaire before 30, serve as an owner and director of the Toronto Maple Leafs — spearheading the construction of Maple Leaf Gardens — and contribute significantly to the war effort.
His influence touched the mining, banking and movie industries in Canada and his philanthropy profoundly impacted medical research and children’s health for years to come. Yet for Bickell, household name status never quite came, even in death.
“If anybody in Canada has owned gold, silver, flown in a plane, been in a sporting event, been in a hospital or benefited from medical research, been in a movie theatre, you have been touched by J.P. Bickell,” says Graham MacLachlan, who co-authored a book published in September titled J.P. Bickell: The Life, the Leafs and the Legacy. Continue Reading →