Sam Blyth is Canadian businessman.
In 1985, Blyth married Rosemarie Bata, daughter of business magnate Thomas Bata, at Lake Joseph Community Church in ritzy Muskoka cottage country. Thomas Bata was once the world’s largest shoemaker.
Blyth married under his real name, Graham David Blyth, with the announcement noting his nickname of Sam.
He was already deep in the travel business, having starting in 1977 at the age of 23.
In the 1980s, Blyth made national headlines by publicly trying to buy Canada’s transcontinental rail service from VIA Rail. His plan was to aggressively market up-scale service for well-heeled passengers to subsidize lower rate travel for the masses. His pitch didn’t fly.
He was an innovator and early adopter of environment tours and luxury adventure travel. Among the tourists he hosted was former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, father of the current prime minister, Justin Trudeau.
Blyth also offered spectacular sounding turn-of-the-millennia cruises.
His various tour companies offered “The Last Frontier” cruise, 127 days spanning New Year’s Eve into 2000, and the “Lost Worlds” cruise, a 116 days global jaunt early in 2000.
“Far from being the dream trips as promised in the brochure, they turned out to be a nightmare for many,” a judge said during litigation.
When the ship carrying passengers on the Lost Worlds tour arrived in Tahiti, it was met with news of unpaid bills. Passengers struggled to make their own way home.
Two of Blyth’s travel firms went bankrupt and the Royal Bank of Canada was liable for $5 million in Visa charge-backs by disgruntled passengers, court heard.
The bank asked the courts to declare Blyth bankrupt and grant the bank ownership of his property. The bank said Blyth owed $81,399.18 on a credit line and term loan. The move was disputed.
During 2001 litigation, court heard various net worth statements for Blyth that swung from $339,827 in debt to almost $3 million to the good. Court proceedings revealed a complicated financial structure with various corporate names and ownership arrangements, including an offshore company.
Blyth did not respond to questions about his business history, specifics of his relationship with the Johnsons, or his current interests and activities.
Blyth also remains connected with the Johnson family through ApplyBoard, a Kitchener, Ont., based international student recruitment platform, where Boris Johnson’s brother, Jo Johnson, a former British MP who sat as a minister in Boris Johnson’s cabinet, chairs the advisory board.
In 2018, Blyth Academy merged with NACE Schools Group, blending Blyth’s schools in Canada, Italy, and Qatar with NACE’s schools in Europe and India. Blyth retained ownership of schools in China and Vietnam.