10 Canadian accountants who matter

As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, we take a look back at 10 accountants who changed the face of our profession.

Who: John Leslie
What: comptroller and vice-president, Canadian Pacific Railway

Why he matters: In 1908, Leslie led a group of railway accountants in forming the General Accountants Association (precursor to CGA). Its stated aim: “To promote amongst its members the study of the science of accounts, the knowledge of the principles of credit and commercial law, the science of finance, applied economics and other subjects of practical value.”

Who: George Edwards
What: founder, Edward, Morgan & Co

Why he matters: Edwards was a four-term president of the Institute of CAs of Ontario, a two-term president of the Dominion Association of CAs, and founding president of the Canadian Society of Cost Accountants. He is credited with launching Canada’s first national public accounting firm, Edwards Morgan, in 1904.

Who: Ivy A. Cox
What: first female CGA in Canada

Why she matters: Cox broke new ground in 1932, when, at 20 years of age, she was accepted as the GAA’s first female member. In 1947, she became the first woman to chair the association’s Toronto chapter. Women now make up 43 per cent of Canadian CPAs.

Who: Anne Marie Boyer
What: cost accountant with National Brewers Ltd. in Montreal

Why she matters: In 1949, Boyer became the first woman to qualify for the RIA designation—precursor to CMA Canada.

Who: Walter Gordon
What: finance minister under Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson

Why he matters: Gordon’s father, Colonel Gordon, co-founded Clarkson Gordon—the pre-eminent accounting firm of the early 20th century, where the younger Gordon became partner in 1935. Prior to serving as Pearson’s finance minister, Gordon served in the Bank of Canada during the Second World War and, in 1946, chaired the Royal Commission on Administrative Classifications in the Public Service.

Who: Edgar Benson
What: finance minister under Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Why he matters: In 1969, Benson introduced tax reforms that would pave the way for a capital gains tax, a tax deduction for child care, as well as changes to the law that encouraged greater use of Registered Retirement Savings Plans.

Who: Ross M. Skinner
What: academic, author

Why he matters: Skinner published influential accounting tomes, including Analytical Auditing, in 1962, and Accounting Principles: A Canadian Viewpoint, in 1972; Skinner was also highly influential in shaping accounting frameworks.

Who: Sheila Fraser
What: former Auditor General of Canada

Why she matters: Fraser, Canada’s first female auditor general (2001-11), changed the way Canadians see auditors and was pivotal in exposing the sponsorship scandal of the early aughts. Since leaving the Auditor General’s office, Fraser has worked toward building bridges with the First Nations community as a founder of Canadians for a New Partnership.

Who: Kevin Dancey
What: former CEO, CPA Canada

Why he matters: Dancey represented the CAs in the unification of the accounting profession in Canada, and was CPA Canada’s first CEO (2013-16). Prior to leading the CAs (CICA) and then CPA Canada, Dancey served for four years (2001-05) as CEO of PwC Canada.

Who: Joy Thomas
What: current CEO, CPA Canada

Why she matters: Thomas has led CPA Canada since May 2016. Between 2009 and 2013, Thomas served as CEO of CMA Canada and was a pivotal player, along with Kevin Dancey, in driving the unification of the profession.


Who would you add to this list? Post a comment below.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.

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