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Frank H. & Donald Sobey

Frank H. Sobey, who passed away in 1985, was the founder of Sobeys. In 1924, the Lyons Brook, N.S. native persuaded his father to expand the family meat retailing store to carry a full range of groceries. In the early 1940s, the family wanted to purchase a building in New Glasgow for a supermarket on property owned by Empire Company Ltd. To acquire the building, the family purchased the company itself and Empire was transformed into the family’s holding company. In 1971, while still active in the business, Sobey handed over formal control of the company’s operations to his three sons, Bill, David and Donald. A Golden Pencil recipient, Frank was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1985 and was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. Frank’s son Donald C.R. Sobey, who passed away in March 2021 at the age of 86, was president of Empire Company Ltd. from 1969 until he was appointed chair in 1985. He played a key role in expanding the regional supermarket into a national chain and became chair emeritus in 2004. His corporate and charitable board roles reflected his support for post-secondary education and the arts, and included Dalhousie University, the National Gallery of Canada, the Maritime Tel & Tel and the World Wildlife Fund. The Retail Council of Canada awarded the Sobey family the 2019 Canadian Grocery Industry Grand Prix Lifetime Achievement Award.