John Risley

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John Risley, OC (born 1948) is a Canadian businessman with major financial interests in fisheries, food supplements, and communications.

Early life and career[edit]

He was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the son of an insurance broker. He never attended university, instead choosing a career in real estate. By 1976 he was struggling through a housing slump and with his brother-in-law, Colin MacDonald he took a gamble in opening a lobster business in Bedford, Nova Scotia.[1]

Major holdings[edit]

Clearwater Fine Foods[edit]

Antarctic scallop at McMurdo Sound

Within ten years of its founding in 1976, Clearwater had grown into one the of the largest international food fish businesses by specializing in high return products including scallops, lobster, clams, coldwater shrimp and crab, which it air-freights around the world. It is the largest holder of rights in Canada for each of these shellfish species and by 2008, it owned the rights to all offshore lobster fished in offshore Atlantic Canadian waters and all Arctic surf clams.[2] By 2008, the fleet included ten factory freezers (the largest such fleet in Canada) and the entire international fleet totalled 21 vessels.[2] Its Argentinian fleet fishes Antarctic scallop.[3]

The business became an income trust in 2002 at which time Risley turned the business over to Colin MacDonald.[1][4] The trust had not paid dividends since 2005 and in August 2008 the company went private[1][5] and was nearly ruined by the stock market failure later that year.[6]

Ocean Nutrition Canada[edit]

His company is the major shareholder in Ocean Nutrition Canada, which he founded in 1997 as a manufacturer of fish oil-derived dietary supplements.[7] Headquartered and with R&D offices in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, it has manufacturing facilities in Mulgrave, Nova Scotia, Arcadia, Wisconsin, and in Peru. It is the world's largest producer of omega-3 fatty acids.[1]

In 2010 the company announced the accidental discovery of ONC T18 B, the most prolific strain of oil-producing algae known, which appears capable of producing oil at a rate 60 times greater than other types of algae being used for the generation of biofuels.[8] It has embarked on a four-year R&D program to determine whether the algae is a viable a fossil fuel replacement.

Columbus Communications[edit]

Risley is a shareholder in Columbus Communications, a Caribbean cable television and Internet provider which he co-founded in 2004. He entered the business with Michael Lee-Chin of Toronto.[9] He is a board member of the company which is based in Freeport, Bahamas.[10]

Corporate fleet and staff[edit]

His business maintains a small fleet of aircraft. In 2003, the fleet consisted of a Hawker 800XP and a King Air 350. The company then purchased a Bell 427, sold the Hawker and hired four contract pilots.[11]

Personal life[edit]

His wife is the former Judy MacDonald of Halifax. They have a son and a daughter. His brother is the Halifax restaurateur, caterer and hotelier Robert Risley.[12] The Risley home overlooks the Atlantic Ocean on a 91-acre property formerly owned by Joseph N. Pew, Jr., founder of Sunoco. After purchasing the property, Risley added another 210 acres to the estate. Besides a mansion, he has a barn with cows purchased from the Rockefeller family and his horses include Dutch Warmbloods, which he shows.[1]

Risley was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1998.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Northern Rockefeller", Globe and Mail, August 24, 2006 (updated on April 6, 2009)
  2. ^ a b "Clearwater Seafoods Income Fund Annual Information Form", March 2008
  3. ^ Antarctic Scallop Recipe
  4. ^ "Nothing's fishy about this captain riding out his sinking ship", Globe and Mail,
  5. ^ "Clearwater Seafoods going private", Canadian Press, August 15, 2008
  6. ^ "The Rich 100", Canadian Business magazine.
  7. ^ Ocean Nutrition Canada, About
  8. ^ Hillary Brenhouse (2010-09-29). "Canada Produces Strain of Algae for Fuel". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ John Risley And Michael Lee-Chin — The Cable Guys - Canadian Business Online (5 December 2005)
  10. ^ Columbus Communications, Governance
  11. ^ Peter Agur, "Leveraged impact—the true value of business aviation", Professional Pilot, October 2006
  12. ^ Robert Risley profile
  13. ^ Governor General's profile

External links[edit]