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'A steadfast champion of Atlantic Canada': Oil executive Arthur Irving dies at age 93



Arthur L. Irving, a prominent figure in the Canadian oil industry, passed away at the age of 93. Irving Oil announced his death, stating that he died on Monday, surrounded by his wife, Sandra, and daughter, Sarah.


Arthur Irving, the second son of New Brunswick industrialist K.C. Irving, dedicated his life to expanding the oil business founded by his father. Forbes Magazine listed him among the top 10 richest Canadians in 2023, with an estimated net worth of US$6.4 billion. His assets included Canada’s largest refinery in Saint John, N.B., and the Whitegate refinery in Ireland.


Born in 1930, Irving attended Acadia University in Nova Scotia before joining Irving Oil in 1951. "I had the choice to go on at Acadia or learn about business from the best teacher available anywhere — my father," he once said. He became president of the company in 1972 and was chairman emeritus at the time of his death.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his condolences, highlighting Irving’s contributions to Canadian entrepreneurship and job creation.


Under Arthur Irving’s leadership, Irving Oil grew significantly. Despite challenges, including a contentious divorce in the 1980s and a rift with his eldest son, Kenneth, Irving remained focused on expanding the business. He was a key player in the family’s interconnected business empire, which included trucking, forestry, shipping, and newspapers.


In 2009, the three Irving brothers separated their business interests, with Arthur taking control of the energy sector. His vision led to significant investments, such as a $1.5-billion refinery upgrade in 2000, ensuring the company’s growth even as other refineries closed.


Arthur Irving was remembered as a "steadfast champion of Atlantic Canada and its people." His company’s statement praised his unique contributions and enduring legacy. "In this immense loss, we know there will never be another like him," it said.


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