Shortly after Summerland was founded in 1902, three national presidents of Canada’s largest banks, bought orchards in the Prairie Valley area.
These bank presidents included Sir Herbert Holt (Royal Bank,) Sir Edmund Osler (Dominion Bank) and R.B. Angus (Bank of Montreal.) Until the Bank of Canada Act in 1934, each bank had its own currency.
Holt was the richest of all Canadian billionaires. He was a director of more than 300 companies. While his focus was primarily electrical utilities, his other interests included Holt Renfrew and Paramount Pictures.
According to Peter Newman, Sir Herbert Holt still is considered the richest citizen in Canadian History. Portions of Holt’s orchard home are located on Dale Meadows Road across from the Millionaires’ Row Cider Company.
Holt is believed to be responsible for the installation of Summerland’s first hydroelectric generator, which provided electrical power to the community in 1905.
While Holt was respected for his business sense, he was not universally loved. A quote attributed to him during the Great Depression of the 1930s states, “If I am rich and powerful, while you are suffering the stranglehold of poverty and the humiliation of social assistance; if I was able, at the peak of the Depression, to make 150 per cent profits each year, it is foolishness on your part, and as for me, it is the fruit of a wise administration.”
Holt died in Montreal in 1941, at the age of 85.
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