Today

Based in Toronto, Ont., Canada Life offers insurance and wealth management products and services to individuals, families and businesses across Canada.

2007

Canada Life’s head office in Toronto receives the prestigious Historical Building of the Year Award from the Toronto chapter of the Building and Office Managers Association (BOMA).

2003

Canada Life becomes part of the Great-West Lifeco group of companies, joining London Life and Great-West Life.

1999

Canada Life grows domestically with the acquisition of Crown Life Insurance Company of Canada.

1997

Canada Life acquires MetLife in the United Kingdom.

1994

Canada Life acquires the Canadian individual insurance operations of New York Life and the individual insurance operations of Manulife Financial in the United Kingdom.

1970

Canada Life opens the first transatlantic link to carry computer, voice, teletype and facsimile transmissions.

1964

A.H. Lemmon, Canada Life’s thirteenth president, adopts automated data processing. The advanced technology allowed the company to process data quicker and more efficiently than ever before.

1959

A change in government legislation allows Canada Life to become a mutual company – or a private company owned by clients or policyholders – as founder Hugh C. Baker had originally envisioned.

1951

At the request of a vice-president, a weather beacon is placed atop Canada Life’s head office on University Avenue in Toronto. Lights attached to a support tower indicate variations in temperature, while a beacon light at the top – which Environment Canada updates four times daily – forecasts approaching weather systems.

1931

Canada Life’s head office opens for business on University Avenue in Toronto.

1929

Construction begins on a new Canada Life head office. The 18-month project in downtown Toronto provides steady employment for tradesmen during the first and hardest year of the Great Depression.

1928

Leighton McCarthy takes over as president after Herbert Coplin Cox retires. McCarthy continues Canada Life’s prudent investment strategy during the Great Depression. The company makes cash surrenders available, provides loans against policies, helps farmers stay on their land and does not lay off any staff. Later, McCarthy serves as Canada’s first ambassador to the United States.

1920

Canada Life introduces its first group policy.

1914

A total of 55 Canada Life employees enlist for overseas duty during the First World War. Four do not return. Under then-president Herbert Coplin Cox, Canada Life avoids adding extra fees to the policies of those entering the armed forces. Also, people without policies serving overseas are still eligible for life insurance, with an extra premium because of the dangerous nature of work. No other company matches Canada Life’s offer.

1914

Edward W. Cox replaces his father George Cox as president of Canada Life, but passes away five months later. Edward is then succeeded by his brother, Herbert Coplin Cox.

1902

After years of doing business in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Canada life officially establishes branches in the region to better serve its customers. Only 35 years after Confederation, a Canadian company had come full circle: instead of British companies insuring Canadians, a Canadian company was operating full branches in Great Britain.

1899

Canada Life’s fourth president, Alexander Gillespie Ramsey, retires. Senator George Cox is elected president of the company. The businessman and top agent in Ontario oversees a period of rapid expansion, including moving the company’s head office from Hamilton to Toronto. Canada Life also expands across Canada by establishing branches in Calgary and Vancouver.

1895

Canada Life publishes the country’s first mortality tables, which reveal that life expectancy in Canada is similar to the U.S., the U.K. and Germany. Previously, it had been assumed Canada’s colder climate shortened lives.

1877

Following The Great Fire of St. John, N.B., in 1877, which destroyed two-fifths of the city, Canada Life president Alexander Gillespie Ramsey oversees the donation of a large sum of money to help with relief efforts.

1875

Alexander Gillespie Ramsey moves his family from Scotland to become president at Canada Life. Ramsey introduces new guidelines, allowing those living in remote or dangerous places to get life insurance policies with premiums based on their locations.

1859

Canada Life’s first president, Hugh C. Baker, passes away. He is succeeded by John Young, (1859-1873) and E. Cartwright Thomas (1873-1875).

1849

Canada Life is granted a Provincial Charter of Incorporation. To commemorate the occasion, Canada Life obtains a coat of arms depicting a pelican feeding its young – a medieval symbol for charity and devotion. The symbol was used in Canada Life’s logo for more than 50 years, and the staff newsletter at the time was called The Pelican.

1848

With Canada’s small but growing population spread out across a vast amount of territory, Canada Life hires George Baker Jr. as a travelling agent. In addition to signing up new businesses, Baker Jr. promotes the assurance business in free lectures and through local newspapers.

1847

Canada Life is founded by banker Hugh C. Baker in the library of the Mechanics Institute rooms in Hamilton. The notion of a Canadian insurance company occurs to Baker after an arduous journey to New York to purchase life insurance for himself. He assumes the roles of president, actuary and general manager at Canada’s first life insurance company. Canada Life issues its first life insurance policy to Baker. Over the course of the first year, the fledging life insurance company turns a substantial profit.