Maple Leaf Foods Mourns the Passing of Chairman, Wallace McCain

May 15, 2011 | Corporate Member News

Click here to access a website honouring the memory of Wallace McCain


The Board of Directors of Maple Leaf Foods (MFI:TSX) announced with great sadness the death of its Chairman Wallace McCain, who passed away at the age of 81 after a lengthy  struggle with pancreatic cancer.

“Wallace made an indelible impact on Maple Leaf Foods, our country and the food industry globally,” said Purdy Crawford, lead director of the Maple Leaf Foods Board of Directors. “He had a rare gift for business that was driven by his personal courage, love of people, and sharp insights.  His incredible accomplishments came about because of his perseverance, humility and belief in others.  Wallace’s efforts to support his community, and those less fortunate, were tireless. He was an extraordinary man, with a huge heart, and we will miss him profoundly.”

Chairman of Maple Leaf Foods, and co-founder and vice chairman of McCain Foods Wallace was a pioneer of the Canadian food industry.  With his brother Harrison, Wallace co-founded McCain Foods in 1956 and built it into a multi-billion dollar global French fry and frozen foods company.  In 1995, the McCain family, together with a financial partner, acquired a controlling interest in Maple Leaf Foods and transformed it into Canada’s largest bakery and prepared meats company.   Maple Leaf Foods has 21,000 employees at operations across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and in Asia.

Michael H. McCain

Michael McCain, CEO of Maple Leaf Foods said, “Wallace McCain was an inspiration, as a father, businessman and humanitarian.  His incredible success in business was always balanced with the importance of family and community. He had unwavering values that defined him and everything he did. My family and the entire Maple Leaf community deeply mourn his passing, but also celebrate his life and the contribution he made to so many people.”

Wallace is survived by his wife Margaret, his four children and nine grandchildren. Funeral arrangements will be announced by the family.  For further information, please visit

Wallace’s successor as Chairman will be determined by the Maple Leaf Foods Board of Directors.

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is a leading food processing company, headquartered in Toronto, Canada. The Company employs approximately 21,000 people at its operations across Canada and in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Asia. The Company had sales of $5.0 billion in 2010.

G. Wallace F. McCain
1930 – 2011

  • Born in Florenceville, New Brunswick in 1930
  • Wallace was the youngest child of Andrew (A.D.) and Laura McCain’s six children
  • A.D. owned and operated McCain Produce, a potato seed export company
  • Wallace received a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Allison University in 1951
  • Began his career in 1951 as a Salesman for Green Grass Insecticides
  • In 1955, Wallace married Margaret Norrie
  • Wallace worked until 1956 as a General Manager at Thorne’s Hardware Ltd.
  • Wallace and Harrison wanted to start their own business and brother Robert suggested they consider frozen foods
  • Founded McCain Foods Limited in 1956 by Wallace and Harrison with investments by their brothers Robert and Andrew
  • McCain’s first frozen French fry plant started up in 1957 in Florenceville, NB
  • In the first year, the plant employed 30 people, produced 1,500 lbs of product/hour and earned sales of $152,678
  • McCain Foods expanded its frozen potato product to the U.K., Australia and the U.S. in the 1960s
  • In the 1970s, McCain opened its first prepared foods plant (Florenceville)
  • Additional plants opened internationally in the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.
  • In 1976, McCain began producing frozen pizza
  • Juice plants and numerous other plants opened or were acquired expanding the business into vegetable, fish, and potato-based animal foods in the 1980s
  • Acquisitions defined the 1990s, along with millions of dollars in facility upgrades and expansions, including the purchase of the Ore-Ida Food Service frozen French fry and appetizer business in 1997
  • In 1995, the McCain family, together with a financial partner, acquired a controlling interest in Maple Leaf Foods. Wallace was appointed Chairman of the Board.
  • He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1995 and promoted to Companion in 2008
  • Awarded the Order of New Brunswick in 2003
  • Brother and McCain Foods co-founder, Harrison McCain, died in 2004

Honorary Degrees and Awards

  • Mount Allison University (LL.D. in 1973)
  • University of King’s College (D.C.L. in 1987)
  • University of New Brunswick (D.Litt. in 2002)
  • Dalhousie University (LL.D. in 2007)
  • Trent University (B.Ed. in 2007)
  • University of Toronto (LL.D. in 2007)
  • St Francis Xavier University (LL.D. in 2011)
  • Knight of the Golden Pencil Award, Toronto, 1988
  • Gary Wright Humanitarian Award from Friends of We Care Inc., 1992
  • Honorary Life Member, Potato Association of America, 1992
  • Canadian Business Hall of Fame, 1993
  • Officer of the Order of Canada, 1995
  • New Brunswick Business Hall of Fame, 1997
  • B’nai Brith Award of Merit, 1999
  • Honorary Life Member, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of New Brunswick, 2003
  • Order of New Brunswick, 2003
  • Canadian International Executive of the Year, 2003
  • Induction into the Canadian Manufacturing Hall of Fame, 2006
  • Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 Ontario Lifetime Achievement Award
  • International Horatio Alger Award, 2008
  • Companion of the Order of Canada, 2008

Philanthropic Affiliations

  • St. Michael’s Hospital Board (Director)
  • National Ballet School Financial Campaign (Co-Chair)
  • Wallace McCain Student Centre (Mount Allison University)
  • Margaret & Wallace McCain Family Foundation
  • McCain Chair in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (St. Michael’s Hospital)
  • Wallace McCain Centre for Pancreatic Cancer (Princess Margaret Hospital)
  • Wallace McCain Institute (University of New Brunswick)

For further information:

Media Contact: 416-926-2020

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