Canada Life

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The Canada Life Assurance Company
IndustryFinancial services
and insurance
Founded1847; 173 years ago (1847)
FounderHugh Cossart Baker Sr.
HeadquartersWinnipeg, Manitoba
Key people
Paul A. Mahon
(President and CEO)
R. Jeffrey Orr (Chair)
Number of employees
ParentGreat-West Lifeco[1]
SubsidiariesIrish Life

The Canada Life Assurance Company, commonly known as Canada Life, is an insurance and financial services company with its headquarters in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The current company is the result of the 2020 amalgamation of The Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company and The Canada Life Assurance Company, along with their holding companies (London Insurance Group Inc. and Canada Life Financial Corporation).[2] The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco.[1]

History and ownership[edit]

Great-West Life Assurance Company[edit]

The Great-West Life Assurance Company logo.svg
Former Great-West Life building in Winnipeg (on right)

The Great-West Life Assurance Company (French: La Great-West, Compagnie d'Assurance-vie) provided life, disability, and health insurance; benefit and retirement plans; and investment advice. It was active in both the United States and Canada.

Great-West Life was founded in Winnipeg in 1891 by Jeffry Hall Brock, a local insurance agent. The company was incorporated on August 28, 1891, with local residents such as James Ashdown on its board.[3][4] In 1942, it was the first Canadian company "to enter the accident and health insurance business."[4] In 1960, the company moved to Osborne Street, where it had constructed a new building on the site of the old Osborne Stadium. In 1983, the company expanded into a building on the corner of Broadway and Osborne.[4]

In 1979, US and Canadian operations were separated due mostly to rapid US growth. In 1969, Great-West was purchased by the Power Corporation, which made it into a wholly owned subsidiary. In 1982, Great-West began offering a universal life policy which differed from those offered by competitors. Two years later, in 1984, the Power Financial Corporation was created as a holding company for Great-West and its numerous businesses.[5][6]

Great-West Life Realty (GWL Realty) is the Toronto-based property and asset management arm of Great-West Life, established in 1993.

London Life Insurance Company[edit]

London Life Insurance Company logo.svg

The London Life Insurance Company (or London Life) merged with Great-West Life in 1997, then joined the original Canada Life in 2003.[7] London Life was a part of Great-West Lifeco subsidiary, Great-West Life Assurance Company. London Life was founded in London, Ontario, in 1874,[8] and remains headquartered there. In 2009, London Life ranked 14th among Canada's largest private companies.[9] It is best known for its "Freedom 55" slogan, which evokes saving money to an extent that would allow one to retire at age 55. The company reportedly had assets under management of $40 billion (Canadian funds) as at December 31, 2004, and 1.9 million participating life insurance policies.

London Life merged with its sister companies, Great-West Life Assurance Company and Canada Life Financial, under the new brand and the banner of Canada Life.[10]

Canada Life Financial Corporation[edit]

Canada Life Financial logo.svg
First offices of the Canada Life Assurance Company, Toronto, 1888

Hugh Cossart Baker Sr. established the Canada Life Assurance Company (CLAC), the first life insurance company in Canada, on 21 August 1847.[11][12] The firm was incorporated in 1849.

The company was acquired by Great-West Life Assurance Company in 2003, after rejecting a hostile takeover bid by rival Manulife. Canada Life Financial had offices in the United Kingdom; in Ireland; Germany; Brazil; the United States; and on the Isle of Man.

The first CLAC head office was in Hamilton, Ontario on the top floor of the Mechanics' Institute on James Street near Merrick, where the Hamilton City Centre (formerly the Eaton's Centre) now stands. The head office moved in 1883 to King Street East and Hughson Street South (later known as the Birks Building). The company commissioned the building of the Canada Life Building, which was completed in 1895, in Montreal. The headquarters of CLAC was moved to Toronto in 1900 by newly installed company president, George Cox, father of telephone pioneer Hugh Baker.[13] From 1926 to 1929, the company was headquartered at historic Cawthra House in Toronto.

Several acquisitions were made and sister companies founded through the years, including:

Crown Life Insurance Company of Canada

Crown Life was founded in 1900 and was based in Toronto.[14] It was acquired by CLAC in 1998.

Canada Life, UK

Canada Life began operations in the United Kingdom in 1903.[15]

Parent companies[edit]

Great-West Lifeco is a joint-stock corporation traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange[16] and owns 100% of The Great-West Life Assurance Company. Power Financial Corporation (PFC) is the majority stake-holder and owns 72% of Great-West Lifeco, the only one of those finance companies to be a member of the stock exchange composite index. Other operating companies include Irish Life, Great-West Financial, and Putnam Investments.[17]

In 2003, Great-West Lifeco acquired Canada Life Financial, which later emerged, along with Great-West Life Assurance Company, for US$4.7 billion.[18] Great-West Life sold its health insurance US division to Cigna for US$1.5 billion in a deal announced on November 26, 2007. Great-West was seeking to expand into the western United States.[19]

Merger and consolidation[edit]

The Canada Life Building in Toronto, 2005

In 2019, Great-West Lifeco consolidated its three brands in Canada as "Canada Life".[20][7] In April 2019, Great-West Life merged with its sister companies London Life and Canada Life into the single brand of Canada Life.[7] The rebrand will take place in 2020, with Canada Life going to have 10,500 employees.[7] The Canada Life amalgamation received approval from the Canadian government in November 2019. They officially begin operating as the Canada Life Assurance Company on January 1, 2020.[21][7] Canada Life is based in Toronto, Ontario at the historic Canada Life Building on University Avenue.

Employees of the merged companies work from five regional offices in Winnipeg, London, Toronto, Montreal and Regina.[22] Paul A. Mahon is president.[23] Canada Life is on the Canada's Top 100 Employers and Top 100 Employers for Young people lists.[24]


On May 28, 2017, sister companies Canada Life, London Life and Great-West Life contributed $25,000 to Canadian Red Cross to help people affected by extensive Spring flooding in Canada.[25]

In May 2017, Canada Life (then Great-West Life), along with the Investors Group and the Power Corporation of Canada, announced a commitment of $12 million to the University of Manitoba to establish an Institute for Leadership Development.[26][27]

In February 2020, the corporation established the "James W. Burns 'Founder Endowment Fund' "[28] after the late James W. Burns, former president and chief executive officer at Great-West Life.[29]

In April 2019, the Manitoba Museum announced a donation of $750,000.00[30] to their capital campaign, "Bringing Our Stories Forward", by Canada Life.[31] The donation was made in honour of Burns.

Canada Life donated 470 tickets for the "A Conversation with Michelle Obama" event to the Winnipeg School Division,[32][33].

The company has been a long-term sponsor of "Future Leaders of Manitoba" awards.[34] Notable recipients of the award have included indigenous Peoples activist Michael Redhead Champagne,[35] Canadian politician Kevin Chief,[36] Canadian film director Adam Smoluk,[37] community leader Hannah Pratt,[38] surgeon and university associate professor Dr. Jordan Hochman,[39] president of Manitoba SwimAbility, Cameron Krisko,[40] and young philanthropist Ben Sabic.[41]

Legal proceedings[edit]

Canada Life–UK claimed its former employee, Domenico Iacono, had illegally removed confidential information after he quit the job. The insurance group brought legal proceedings against Iacono before the High Court.[42]

Canada Life Financial was sued by Vanessa Valentyne after refusing to pay out her missing son's insurance policy. The policy he took out had an exclusionary clause, according to which the company will not pay on a policy if death is a result of its holder's criminal activity. Valentyne's son was a drug dealer for six years before his January 7, 2013 disappearance from a drug dealing house.[43]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Our companies". Great-West Lifeco Inc. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  2. ^ "Amalgamation". Canada Life. Retrieved 2020-09-21.
  3. ^ "#232 Great-West Life Assurance Company", Forbes
  4. ^ a b c Bernhardt, Darren (April 25, 2017). "How Great-West Life became an insurance titan". CBC News Manitoba.
  5. ^ "Power Corporation of Canada Business Information". Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  6. ^ Heralding the season: Who are the Wise Men atop Great-West Life?, CBC
  7. ^ a b c d e Dubinski, Kate (April 3, 2019). "London Life insurance company to be called Canada Life". CBC News. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  8. ^ "London Life – More Than 130 Years of Service". Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  9. ^ "Rankings of Canada's 350 biggest private companies". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. 2010-06-18.
  10. ^ Dubinski, Kate (April 3, 2019). "London Life insurance company to be called Canada Life". CBC news. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  11. ^ Bailey, Thomas Melville (1981). Dictionary of Hamilton Biography (Vol I, 1791-1875). W.L. Griffin Ltd.
  12. ^ "Chronology of the Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Ontario". Retrieved 2007-02-05.
  13. ^ Houghton, Margaret (2003). The Hamiltonians, 100 Fascinating Lives. James Lorimer & Company Ltd., Publishers Toronto. p. 6. ISBN 1-55028-804-0.
  14. ^ "Crown Life Insurance Company Profile".
  15. ^ "About Canada Life".
  16. ^ Organization Chart, Great-West Life
  17. ^ Great-West Life closed for day after overnight threat, Winnipeg Sun
  18. ^ Simon, Bernard (2003-02-18), "Great-West Lifeco to Acquire Canada Life for $4.7 Billion", The New York Times
  19. ^ Cigna to Buy Great-West Health Unit for $1.5 Bln, Reuters, 2007-11-27
  20. ^ Great-West Lifeco consolidating brands in Canada under Canada Life banner, CTV News, 2019-04-03
  21. ^ Canada Life amalgamation receives government approval, Advisor's Edge
  22. ^ "Great-West Lifeco consolidating, rebranding as Canada Life". CBC News Manitoba. The Canadian Press. April 3, 2019.
  23. ^ Great-West Life Assurance Co/The, Bloomberg
  24. ^ "Canada Life Named Among Canada's Top 100 Employers and Top Employers For Young People - Canada Life". Canada Life.
  25. ^ "Canada Life Contributes $25,000 To Canadian Red Cross Spring Floods Appeal - Canada Life". Canada Life.
  26. ^ "Great-West Life, Investors Group and Power Corporation investing to create unique leadership institute at U of M". UM Today. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  27. ^ NOTE: On June 4, 2019, at the University of Manitoba's annual spring convocation, it was announced that the U of M leadership institute would be named for Burns.
  28. ^ "THE NEW CANADA LIFE PROVIDES REMARKABLE GIFT TO THE MANITOBA MUSEUM". Manitoba Museum. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  29. ^ "Name unveiled for leadership institute". UM Today. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  30. ^ Prest, Ashley (2019-04-10). "'A fun place to be': museum lands donation". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  31. ^ "Gift supports Museum's capital campaign to tell Manitoba's stories & paves the way for Manitoba Museum to create the James W. Burns Founder Endowment Fund". Canada Life. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  32. ^ "Canada Life to send hundreds of WSD students to Michelle Obama event". Winnipeg School Division. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  33. ^ "Winnipeg School Division shares 470 tickets among 12 high schools; Copy of Becoming donated to Argyle Alternative High School library". Canada Life. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  34. ^ "Sponsors". Future Leaders of Manitoba. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  35. ^ Geraldine Malone, Kelly. "Nearly half of youth incarcerated across Canada are Indigenous: Statistics Canada". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  36. ^ "Our Board". True North Youth Foundation. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  37. ^ "Adam Smoluk awarded Al Cerilli Scholarship Award". On Screen Manitoba. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  38. ^ Thompson, Sam. "Upcycled Winnipeg wedding dress project now adding suits to the mix". Global News. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  39. ^ "Rady Faculty of Health Sciences". University of Manitoba. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  40. ^ "In pictures: 'Meet Canada's Top 20 Under 20'". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  41. ^ "A new era in support for young people". The Winnipeg Foundation. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  42. ^ "Canada Life claims former executive removed confidential data".
  43. ^ "Missing Drug Dealer's Life Insurance Denied Over Crime Affiliation".

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°53′02″N 97°08′59″W / 49.8838°N 97.1496°W / 49.8838; -97.1496