Class of 1993
Dr. Irving K. Barber was born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1923. He first came to the University of British Columbia in 1945, and would later play a significant role in the development of the university, the province’s forest industry, and various philanthropic pursuits. Graduating from the university in 1950 with a B.Sc. in forestry, Barber qualified as a Professional Registered Forester in 1952.
He started Slocan Forest Products Ltd. in 1978, and under his lead Slocan grew to become one of the dominant forest products companies in Canada. Barber was named the Distinguished Forester of the Year by the Registered Professional Foresters Association in 1999. He was also awarded the Forest Excellence Award in Communications in 1995, in recognition of his popular book, “The Working Forest.”
Barber has made outstanding contributions to the forest industry throughout his career. The Order of Canada, of which he is an Officer, has praised him for his “innovative approaches to harvesting and reforestation” and has named him a “leader in sustainable forest management.” Barber is also largely responsible for keeping the British Columbia forest industry competitive in the global market.
Barber retired as chairman of Slocan in 2002, but continues to support the people of British Columbia with generous philanthropic donations. In 1999, he gifted $500,000 to the University of Northern BC to establish an Enhanced Forest Laboratory. In 2001, he donated $2.5 million to the University of British Columbia to establish the Irving K. Barber Diabetes Research Fund and the Ike Barber Human Islet Cell Transplant Laboratory, located at the Vancouver General Hospital.
In October 2002, Barber committed $20 million to the University of British Columbia to spearhead the construction of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. The facility provides innovative teaching and is dedicated to the intellectual, social, cultural, and economic development of the people in British Columbia.
A forester, prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist, Dr. Irving K. Barber was recognized by the Order of British Columbia in 2003, and became an Officer of the Order of Canada the following year. As of 2008, Barber and his wife Jean live in Delta, British Columbia and have three grown children, as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.