Class of 1989
Sir James H. Dunn, banker, financier and Chairman of Algoma Steel.
James Dunn first visited a struggling Algoma in 1907 at the request of his friend and owner of the company, Francis Clerque. The 33 year old Dunn became a reluctant partner when he assisted his friend by raising funds and buying a few shares. Several years later, Algoma would fall under Dunn’s total control.
Born in New Brunswick, James graduated from Dalhousie Law School in 1898. As a young lawyer he established a brokerage firm in Montreal before moving to England. There a partnership in a merchant banking house earned Dunn his first million. The title Baronet was bestowed on James in 1931 after his war service.
In 1935 Clerque defaulted leaving Dunn, at 61, as controlling shareholder of idle furnaces and a bankrupt Algoma. Returning to Canada, Dunn raised capital by negotiating bank loans, selling his beloved art collection and taking stock instead of income. Dunn’s rigorous financial management guided Algoma through a gradual growth that culminated in lucrative production contracts to supply western allies in the war.
Dunn was the ‘ironmaster’ and Algoma, under his stewardship, became one of the most efficient steel producers on the continent. With a vastly improved balance sheet, Dunn diversified Algoma into coal, limestone, and steamship lines.
Sir James generously supported his communities through scholarships and funding of hospitals. In his native New Brunswick, his holdings were turned into a game sanctuary and his estate founded The Canada Council.