Argus Corporation

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Argus Corporation
Founded Toronto, Ontario 1945
Founder E. P. Taylor, Colonel W. Eric Phillips, Wallace McCutcheon
Headquarters Toronto, Canada
Former headquarters at 10 Toronto Street

The Argus Corporation was an investment and holding company based in Toronto, Ontario. During the 1960s and 1970s, it was the most powerful and best known conglomerate in Canada,[1] at one time controlling the companies making up 10 percent of all shares traded daily on the Toronto Stock Exchange.[2]


Argus was founded as an investment holding company in 1945 by E. P. Taylor[3] with minority partners William Eric Phillips, Wallace McCutcheon, Bud McDougald, and other less infuential investors.[3] The company was formed through Taylor's brewery empire, Canadian Breweries Limited, which was later known as Carling O'Keefe, and which Argus took control over.[4] Argus was also set up with the support of the American Atlas Corporation, itself a holding company.[3]

In 1958, Argus moved its headquarters to the prestigious location of 10 Toronto Street, where it stayed until its demise.[5]


Argus was once one of Canada's most powerful conglomerates.[2] By 1964, 10 percent of all shares traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange were controlled by Argus.[2] In 1969, E.P. Taylor appointed McDougald to run operations. In the 1970s, it controlled large companies including Canadian Breweries Limited, Dominion Stores,[6] Hollinger Mines,[6] Crown Trust, Domtar,[6] Standard Broadcasting[6] and Massey-Ferguson,[6] as well as having control or significant shareholdings in other Canadian companies such as Dominion Malting Co., Orange Crush Ltd. and British Columbia Forest Products Limited.[citation needed]

The company's importance was so great that when the Power Corporation of Canada attempted, but later failed, to acquire Argus, the federal government responded by creating the Royal Commission on Corporate Concentration in 1975.[7]

Conrad Black[edit]

Shortly after the death of McDougald in 1978, his widow and sister sold their shares to Conrad Black in an ill-advised transaction.[2] The transaction led to a high profile falling out between the families.[8] The move gave Black effective voting control and he became president of the corporation.[9] The move also was financially lucrative for Black - his net worth grew to an estimated $50 million in 1978.[8] Black and his associates sold off most of the assets by 1985, and used the money to invest in media properties. In 2005, Argus's only asset was the Toronto-based holding company Hollinger Inc. Argus itself was 100 percent controlled by Ravelston Corporation[10] -- itself a holding company controlled until 2005 by Black and his long-time associate David Radler. The company went into receivership along with Ravelston in 2005, and eventually went bankrupt in 2008.[11][12]

Notable assets[edit]

A list of assets once owned by Argus included:


  1. ^ Martin, Joe (2009-09-19). Relentless Change: A Casebook for the Study of Canadian Business History. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9781442697157. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Bud McDougald, the death of an establishment man". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-10-21. 
  3. ^ a b c Park, Libbie; Park, Frank (1973-01-01). Anatomy of Big Business. James Lorimer & Company. ISBN 9780888620408. 
  4. ^ Gonick, Cy (1975-01-01). Inflation Or Depression: The Continuing Crisis of the Canadian Economy. James Lorimer & Company. ISBN 9780888620798. 
  5. ^ Levine, Allan (2014-09-13). Toronto: Biography of a City. D&M Publishers Incorporated. ISBN 9781771620437. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Carroll, William K. (2011-11-01). Corporate Power and Canadian Capitalism. UBC Press. ISBN 9780774844932. 
  7. ^ Gorecki, Paul K.; Stanbury, W. T.; Policy, Institute for Research on Public (1984-01-01). The Objectives of Canadian Competition Policy, 1888-1983. IRPP. ISBN 9780886450021. 
  8. ^ a b Tombs, George (2007-11-01). Robber Baron: Lord Black of Crossharbour. ECW Press. ISBN 9781554903122. 
  9. ^ "Conrad Black to be allowed back into Canada after prison release". National Post. Retrieved 2015-10-21. 
  10. ^ "Argus Corporation Ltd". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2015-10-21. 
  11. ^ "Lights out for Black's once-mighty Ravelston". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2015-10-21. 
  12. ^ "Argus Corporation Limited: Private Company Information - Businessweek". Retrieved 2015-10-21.