Kenneth Colin Irving

Kenneth Colin Irving, industrialist (b at Bouctouche, NB 14 Mar 1899; d at Saint John 13 Dec 1992). Founder of an empire that ranges from pulp and paper and oil refining to publishing and broadcasting, he has been called New Brunswick's first modern entrepreneurial industrialist.

Kenneth Colin Irving

Kenneth Colin Irving, industrialist (b at Bouctouche, NB 14 Mar 1899; d at Saint John 13 Dec 1992). Founder of an empire that ranges from pulp and paper and oil refining to publishing and broadcasting, he has been called New Brunswick's first modern entrepreneurial industrialist. He was born into a prosperous Scots Presbyterian family in Kent County, where his father ran a lumber business, and he attended Dalhousie and Acadia universities for short periods before going to England for service in the Royal Flying Corps. After WWI Irving took charge of a Ford motor agency and gas station, and in 1924, after a dispute with Imperial Oil, he borrowed enough money to establish the Irving Oil Co. He expanded rapidly into service stations and garages for storing and repairing cars, and in the 1930s took over bus and trucking companies that were heavily in debt to Irving Oil. By 1936, from his office in the Golden Ball Building in Saint John, he was directing the manufacture of buses and trucks and the purchase of ships and tanks for the transportation of his oil.

On the death of his father in 1933, Irving acquired J.D. Irving Ltd, the family lumber business, and in 1938 he bought Canada Veneers, which thrived on wartime sales to become the world's largest supplier of aircraft veneers. The growth of this company led to the acquisition of the New Brunswick Railway Co for its huge tracts of timberland. With the establishment in 1951 of Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd, Irving dominated the NB timber industry. By then, he also owned a number of Maritime newspapers.

Controversy surrounds the Irving empire. His decision to invest in NB industry has altered the course of that province's development, but his critics claim that his interests were often served at the expense of the taxpayers and the environment. Irving's domination of the NB media symbolized for many the negative aspects of the power he wielded. Although he settled in Bermuda in December 1971, many in the province would still agree with the statement that "K.C. Irving is New Brunswick." In June 1987 he had a theatre in the new John Flemming Forestry Centre in Fredericton named for him.

See alsoIRVING GROUP.