Class of 2008
John (Jack) Ernest Irving was born in 1932 to Kenneth Colin and Harriet MacNarin Irving. He got his start in business at an early age. When he was eight years old, he joined with his brothers to form the “Jim, Art and Jack Farm.” They raised chickens in the backyard and sold eggs. Along the way, they learned many valuable lessons about good customer service and good business.
Jack continued his education at Rothesay Collegiate School, where he was very involved in school life as a chess champion, guard on the basketball team, and captain of the rugby team. He enjoyed his time at Rothesay Collegiate and began many life-long friendships there. After he graduated in 1950, Jack attended Acadia University.
Jack decided to finish university with “the best professor in the Maritimes,” his father, when he joined his father and brothers in the growing group of Irving companies in 1952. Like his father, he embraced entrepreneurship and has dedicated himself to the continuation of what K.C. Irving began.
Jack very quickly grew to be the builder in the family. In the 1960s, Jack took on responsibility for the company’s talented and hardworking construction team, and this team went on to build most of the Irving infrastructure in Atlantic Canada and Quebec over the subsequent decades. Jack became Executive Vice-President of Irving Oil and a director of the many Irving companies. Two of the Irving companies with which Jack has been closely associated with over the years, Ocean Steel and Strescon, have grown to be the leading suppliers of steel and architectural concrete in the region.
Throughout his career, Jack has championed innovation in world-class processes, practices, and technologies in a variety of Irving companies. These innovations made significant contributions to boosting Canadian productivity and competitiveness in international markets. He has also been an early adopter of manufacturing and environmental technology, including the early automation of the Saint John Lubricants Plant and the use of environmentally progressive fibreglass underground fuel tanks, for oil company use, when the technology was in its infancy.
Jack’s innate ability to lead quietly and by example, together with his business acumen, common sense, and attention to detail, was instrumental to helping Irving Oil become a leading regional marketer of fuel in a highly competitive industry. Throughout, Jack Irving has been unwavering in his commitment to quality in all aspects of business, including the construction of Irving Oil retail sites and its marine terminal network.
Jack Irving is deeply involved in the life of his community, and his work to preserve the unique architectural heritage of Canada’s Loyalist City has won numerous awards. He has been an avid outdoorsman his whole life, and has canoed and kayaked in many rivers and coastal areas in Eastern Canada and elsewhere in North America. Along with his brothers, Jack has supported many charities, organizations and causes.
Jack has received honorary degrees from the University of New Brunswick (Doctor of Letters) and Acadia University (Doctor of Civil Laws). A proud Canadian, he was invested as a Member into the Order of Canada in 2007 for his contributions throughout the Atlantic region to economic development and to philanthropic support of education and the arts.
Jack lives with his wife Suzanne in Saint John, New Brunswick. He and Suzanne have three children, John, Colin, and Anne, and six grandchildren.