Irving Oil announces the passing of its Chairman Emeritus, Arthur L. Irving

Mr Arthur Irving A lifetime of dedication.
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It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our Chairman Emeritus, Arthur L. Irving, OC, aged 93, earlier today, surrounded by his loving wife, Sandra, and his devoted daughter, Sarah. Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Arthur Irving was a visionary and extraordinary leader, who leaves behind a profound legacy that spans industry, conservation and community. Until his death, Arthur remained active in the business and was recently recognized for his 73 years of service to the company. For many decades at the helm of Irving Oil, Arthur worked tirelessly on behalf of his employees, customers and partners, stewarding Irving Oil from a regional oil company founded by his father in 1924, to the multinational energy company and top employer in the country that it is today. 

A proud Canadian, Arthur was a steadfast champion of Atlantic Canada and its people, and he dedicated his life to creating opportunities for the benefit of the region. He shook the hand of everyone he met, remembered every name, and had a wonderful ability to make every person he met feel a special connection. In this immense loss, we know there will never be another like him. On behalf of everyone at Irving Oil, we thank you for the business, Mr. Irving. It’s been an honour. 

Arthur L. Irving biography

Born in Saint John in 1930, Arthur L. Irving was an outstanding businessman with an exceptional professional track record who made his mark in Canada and abroad. A proud New Brunswick native and close to his family roots in Bouctouche, Arthur Irving was responsible for the rise of Irving Oil to the ranks of the world’s leading companies. 

Arthur Irving attended Acadia University before joining Irving Oil in 1951. He worked with his father, K.C. Irving, and his brothers Jim and Jack, becoming President of Irving Oil in 1972. He was Chairman Emeritus of the company at the time of his passing.

An astute businessman, Arthur Irving took Irving Oil to new heights. He grew the Saint John refinery, which became the largest in Canada. He also expertly spearheaded the expansion of the company’s international activities, branching out in the Northeastern United States market and Ireland. Under his leadership as Chairman of the Board, the company would be named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers in 2017, a title the company has maintained for eight consecutive years.

Irving Oil’s operations in New Brunswick provide meaningful work for more than 2,500 local employees, and more than 4,000 employees in all geographies including Atlantic Canada, Quebec, the US Northeast and Ireland. A major contributor to the New Brunswick economy, on average, 55% of all annual trade value in New Brunswick is from refined products from the Irving Oil Saint John refinery.

Despite his exceptional achievements as a Canadian and international business leader, Arthur Irving remained grounded in his New Brunswick roots and the values that define them, including a sense of community and the importance of giving back. 

Throughout his career, Arthur Irving demonstrated incredible support for people, the environment, education and the community. Arthur Irving had a strong interest in wetlands preservation and served for 30 years on the Board of Directors of Ducks Unlimited, for two years as President. His leadership, interest and enthusiasm for the environment and for New Brunswick’s history led him to partner with Ducks Unlimited and Acadia University in the creation of the Beaubassin Research Station in Aulac, NB, where students meet to carry out important studies of the environment and the history of the area. The Université de Moncton joined this partnership in 2021, offering historical research and programming related to the site and its people.

The Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation, which he founded, has led to numerous initiatives in the health and higher education sectors. Arthur Irving’s commitment to academia is particularly notable. 

From 1996 to 2010, Arthur served as Chancellor of Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. In 2002, together with his brothers, Jim and Jack, they established the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens on campus, named in honour of their parents. In 2014, he created the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation Scholarships in Environmental Science. 

Arthur and his wife, Sandra Irving, have been loyal supporters of Dartmouth College. Together they have funded scholarships for Canadian students, developed the Sandra L. and Arthur L. Irving Professor of Economics Endowed Chair, and helped fund undergraduate students in business studies in partnership with the Tuck School of Business. In 2016, Arthur, Sandra and Sarah Irving, along with Irving Oil and the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation, established the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society at Dartmouth College.

They have invested in learning infrastructure and student programming at Atlantic Canadian universities including the Harriet Irving Library Research Commons and Rose Garden at the University of New Brunswick and the Arthur L. Irving Entrepreneurship Centre at Saint Mary’s University.

Additionally, Arthur and Sandra Irving have helped students across the region achieve their dreams by supporting student scholars at Acadia University, the University of New Brunswick, St. Thomas University, Saint Mary’s University, Université de Moncton, the University of Toronto, and Dartmouth College to name a few. Arthur Irving has also supported young people in their pursuits in business through the important work of Junior Achievement in New Brunswick.

Together with Sandra Irving and their daughter, Sarah Irving, Arthur Irving was also a loyal supporter of healthcare initiatives – having established a Chair in Neurology at The Lahey Hospital and Chairs in Cardiology and Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital. Together, they funded the David P. Ryan, MD, Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and a fund in Gastrointestinal Immuno-Oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. The Irving family is very proud to support ongoing cancer immunology research through the establishment of annual educational retreats, and in 2021 an International Symposium for leading researchers in the field. 

In New Brunswick, the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation, together with Irving Oil, provided foundational support of wholistic Cancer Survivorship Programming in the province.

In 2002, Arthur Irving was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 2012, he received the Order of New Brunswick for his lifelong work as a builder of our province’s economy and for his devotion to preserving our natural environment. In 1997, Arthur Irving was inducted into the New Brunswick Business Hall of Fame along with his brothers Jim and Jack, and in 2008 they were inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. Arthur received a Doctor of Civil Laws from Acadia University in 2003; and was granted the title of Chancellor Emeritus in 2010. In 2019, Arthur Irving received the Paul Harris Fellowship from the Rotary Club of Saint John, for exemplifying the Rotary motto of “service above self.”

In December 2021, Arthur Irving received an honorary doctorate in business administration from Université de Moncton.