|Born||John Paris Bickell
September 26, 1884
|Died||August 22, 1951 (aged 66)
New York City, U.S.
|Cause of death||Stroke|
|Occupation||Businessman, philanthropist, and sports team owner|
John Paris "Jack" Bickell (September 26, 1884 – August 22, 1951) was a Canadian businessman, philanthropist, and sports team owner. He is best known for his long-time association with the Toronto Maple Leafs professional ice hockey team.
Early life and mining
Bickell's parents were Rev. David Bickell and Annie Paris. Born in Molesworth, near Listowel, and raised in Toronto, Bickell started his own brokerage firm at the age of 23 and made his fortune as a mining executive, serving as president and later chairman of McIntyre Porcupine Mines Ltd. in Timmins. He held that position until his death. His work in mining earned him a place in the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame.
Involvement in sports
Jack came into the hockey business when the Toronto Arenas went bankrupt and Charlie Querrie needed financial reorganization to ice a team in Toronto. The Toronto St. Patricks were formed and won a Stanley Cup in 1922. When Querrie needed to sell the team in 1927, Bickell arranged for a group headed by Conn Smythe to purchase the team, to keep it in Toronto. Bickell kept his stake in the team, which was renamed the Toronto Maple Leafs. With Smythe, Bickell helped in the organization and financing of the construction of the Maple Leaf Gardens arena for the Leafs in 1931. "You could say, without exaggerating, that Bickell was the cornerstone of the whole project," said Smythe. He was made the first president of Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. and also served as chairman. Bickell served as a director of the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball club, joining the board in 1931. That year, he also built a mansion, adjacent to the Mississaugua Golf & Country Club, in the town of Port Credit, Ontario where he would live for the rest of his life. His name is on the Stanley Cup six times: 1932, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951. He was not included on the Cup with 1942 Toronto, as he was overseas serving in World War II.
Second World War
During the Second World War, Bickell was a key member of a group under Canadian Max Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, the British Minister of Aircraft Production, which ensured an adequate supply of airplanes for the British forces. Bickell served two years with the British Airplane Supply Board. Along with other important businessmen and industrialists, Bickell was recruited by C. D. Howe to become one of the famous "dollar-a-year" men who headed up wartime industry and special projects. In 1942, he also became the president and chairman of the board of Victory Aircraft Ltd. in Malton, Ontario, the largest airplane manufacturer in Canada.
In 1945, he provided the funds Jack Kent Cooke needed to buy Toronto radio station CKEY. In business, Bickell served as a director of Canadian Bank of Commerce, International Nickel, Imperial Life Assurance, and National Trust. He was also an active philanthropist, serving on several boards, including that of Wellesley Hospital. He was also honorary president of the Health League of Canada.
Bickell died in New York City in 1951 at age 66 and was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto. Bickell willed the bulk of his $14.6 million estate to the creation of the John Paris Bickell Foundation. It donates half of its income each year to the Hospital for Sick Children. In 1953, the Toronto Maple Leafs established the J. P. Bickell Memorial Award. Bickell was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978.