Letters of a Businessman to His Son


225 pages
ISBN 0-00-217581-9





Reviewed by Robert B. Shortly

Robert B. Shortly was a chartered accountant in Toronto.


Mr. Ward is described as a highly successful entrepreneur. In the process of reviewing his estate planning, it became apparent to him that his most valuable asset, his years of hard experience, could not be passed along by conventional means. He decided that one way to effect the transfer was to write a series of letters to his son. (He emphasizes that at the time of writing his daughter had expressed no interest in business. She has now changed her mind, and thus, were he to begin again, the letters would be addressed to both his son and his daughter.)

All in all, there are 30 letters, being preceded by a statement of a situation facing the son and followed by a letter of advice covering such topics as education, marriage, money, teamwork, business expansion, and bank managers. In the introduction to the book, Bob Proctor describes Mr. Ward as a most fascinating individual — a self-made millionaire, the chairman of a group of companies, and actively involved at the executive level in several associations: “a big, big WINNER in the game of life.” That introduction sets the paternalistic, somewhat didactic tone for the book. Despite Mr. Ward’s statement that “it is not a father’s place to push a son in directions for which the boy has no heart,” the implicit assumption that Mr. Ward’s experience and being a winner are synonymous certainly would make it difficult for any son to deviate from this father’s directions.


Ward, G. Kingsley, “Letters of a Businessman to His Son,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 7, 2023, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/36397.