Frank H. Sobey

Frank H. Sobey




Class of 1984

Frank H. Sobey was a Canadian businessman who was the primary builder of the Sobeys Stores chain.

Born in Lyons Brook, Nova Scotia, he was three years old when his family moved to the town of Stellarton, where his father operated a meat retailing business, peddling meat products door to door on a horse-drawn wagon. In an era where educational opportunities were limited in small Maritime towns, Frank Sobey left school after Grade 8. However, he had an entrepreneurial mindset, and at age sixteen enrolled in a business college. Frank convinced his father to add produce to the meat business, and that marked the beginning of the creation of the second largest retail food distribution company in Canada. In 1947 he opened the region's first "Cash and Carry" store, which was an immediate success.

Through Empire Co. Ltd., a family holding company, Frank also built a chain of movie theaters and acquired substantial real estate holdings. In 1971, while still remaining active in the business, he handed over formal control of the company's operations to his three sons, David, Donald and William.

Frank Sobey received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the University named its Faculty of Commerce in his honour. In 1985 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

In 1982 Frank Sobey endowed the Sobey Foundation to provide funding for important initiatives that have positive and long-lasting impact in local communities. The "Frank H. Sobey Awards in Business Studies" annually provide assistance to full-time business students from any Atlantic Canadian university.

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