John Risley

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John Risley
John Carter Risley

(1948-04-26) April 26, 1948 (age 70)
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Net worth$1.21 billion (December 2015)[1]
Spouse(s)Judy MacDonald (divorced)
Children1 daughter
Parent(s)Robert Campbell Risley
Patricia Anne Bourke
AwardsOrder of Canada

John Carter Risley OC (born April 26, 1948) is a Canadian billionaire businessman with interests in fisheries, food supplements, and communications.

Early life and career[edit]

He was born on April 26, 1948,[2] in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the son of Robert Campbell Risley (1908-1964), the first commanding officer of a military police unit and later an insurance broker, and Patricia Anne Bourke (1920-2014).[3][4][5][6] He never attended university, instead choosing a career in real estate. By 1976 he was struggling through a housing slump and he opened a lobster business in Bedford, Nova Scotia.[7]

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 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.[8] By 2008, the fleet included ten factory freezers (the largest such fleet in Canada) and the entire international fleet totalled 21 vessels.[8] Its Argentinian fleet fishes Antarctic scallop.[9]

The business became an income trust in 2002 at which time Risley turned the business over to Colin MacDonald.[7][10][11][12] The company has since had a full recovery and has become one of the world largest vertically integrated shellfish harvesters, processors, and distributors.[13] In 2014, they received the Rabobank award for innovation.[14] In 2016 they purchased the largest shellfish producer in the UK, MacDuff Shellfish Group.[15]

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.[16] Headquartered and with R&D offices in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, it has manufacturing facilities in Mulgrave, Nova Scotia, Arcadia, Wisconsin, and Peru. It is the world's largest producer of omega-3 fatty acids.[7]

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.[17] It has embarked on a four-year R&D program to determine whether the algae is a viable a fossil fuel replacement.[citation needed]

Columbus Communications[edit]

Risley was a major shareholder in Columbus Communications, a Caribbean cable television and Internet provider which he co-founded in 2004. He entered the business with Brendan Paddick from Grand Falls, Newfoundland and was a board member of the company based in Freeport, Bahamas.[18] In March 2015, the company was acquired by Cable & Wireless Communications at a cost of US$1.85 billion.[19] He is now a non-executive director of Cable & Wireless.[20]

Personal life[edit]

His ex-wife is the former Judy MacDonald of Halifax. The Risley 32,000-square-foot home near Chester, Nova Scotia]] overlooks the Atlantic Ocean on a 91-acre property formerly owned by Joseph N. Pew, Jr., founder of Sunoco.[21] 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.[7]

In 2010, their daughter Sarah Risley married Guy Barnett, "a British deckhand who came to Canada to work on Risley's yacht".[22][23]

His brother is the Halifax restaurateur, caterer and hotelier Robert Risley.[24]

Risley was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1998.[25]

Since his divorce from Judy Risley (MacDonald) John has built a second home in South End Halifax with his girlfriend, Amy Gordinier-Regan (owner of skinfix) and her two children.[citation needed]

Since 2009, Risley has owned a 246-foot megayacht, the Northern Star, which has been listed for sale at $170 million.[26]


  1. ^ "Canada's Richest People: John Risley". 24 December 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  2. ^ Clearwater Seafoods’ John Risley: He’s still got lots of pots on the boil Globe and Mail
  4. ^ Frank Magazine on Twitter: "Obit for Patricia Anne Risley, mum of restaurateur Robert and fishmonger John. She was 93. Twitter
  5. ^ John Campbell Risley - Death Record Nova Scotia Archives
  6. ^ CFB Halifax getting multimillion dollar makeover Halifax Chronicle Herald
  7. ^ a b c d "The Northern Rockefeller", Globe and Mail, August 24, 2006 (updated on April 6, 2009)
  8. ^ a b "Clearwater Seafoods Income Fund Annual Information Form", March 2008
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-08-22. Retrieved 2011-01-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Nothing's fishy about this captain riding out his sinking ship", Globe and Mail, The company was nearly ruined by the stock market failure and a shipyard that sunk their brand new vessel during seatrials
  11. ^ "Dockside capsizing sinks Clearwater's hopes". Retrieved 27 September 2018 – via The Globe and Mail.
  12. ^ "The Rich 100"[permanent dead link], Canadian Business magazine.
  13. ^ "Clearwater Seafoods rides the export wave of good fortune". 19 February 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  14. ^ "FIS - Companies & Products - Clearwater Seafoods wins Rabobank Innovation Award". Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  15. ^ "The Chronicle Herald". Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  16. ^ "MEG-3: Omega-3 EPA/DHA". Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  17. ^ Hillary Brenhouse (2010-09-29). "Canada Produces Strain of Algae for Fuel". The New York Times.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Cable & Wireless Communications | CWC/Columbus Merger Finalized". Retrieved 2015-06-08.
  20. ^ "John Risley: NED, Joint Deputy Chairman". Archived from the original on 2015-06-01. Retrieved 2015-06-08.
  21. ^ "The world according to John - Atlantic Business Magazine". Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  22. ^ Bousquet, Tim. "Clearwater's John Risley gets a son-in-law". Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  23. ^ Evans, Martin (19 August 2010). "Mackerel fisherman returns home in £100m super-yacht". Retrieved 27 September 2018 – via
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Petulant, self-entitled brats: Morning File, Thursday, April 16, 2015". Retrieved 27 September 2018.