Jack Diamond has left an indelible mark on the history of British Columbia, as a businessman, sportsman, philanthropist and community-minded citizen.
Arriving in BC in 1927 as an 18 year old immigrant from the shattered post war remnants of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Jack went on to distinguish himself as one of British Columbia’s leading and most respected businessmen.
In 1940, he purchased the Pacific Meat Company and built it into the largest packing house in Western Canada. His vision led him to employ new and innovative technology to deal with the challenge of increasing productivity.
Jack took his responsibilities as a community leader seriously. He sat on several Boards and was a leader in the Jewish community and the community at large. He was always approachable, and became a mentor to people from all walks of life, earning formal honours such as “Freedom of the City of Vancouver” and the honourary title, “Mayor of Marpole”. Jack Diamond’s leadership brought together sportsmen from across the province to raise much needed funding for a variety of endeavors. He loved horse racing and his ownership and operation of the race track at Exhibition Park significantly contributed to the survival of thoroughbred horse racing in British Columbia. In 1953, by invitation from then Premier W.A.C. Bennett, Jack Diamond chaired the Special Events Committee that raised the funds to build Empire Stadium. Without this stadium, Vancouver would have lost the British Empire Games that took place in Vancouver in 1954.
Jack Diamond could be characterized as a brilliant businessman with a heart of gold. His vision was reflected in the leadership he displayed in the numerous charitable and community-based activities he became associated with over his long career. He was renowned for his generosity, often giving more than he could afford. Jack is credited with co-founding what later grew into the BC Heart Foundation. He instilled the principles of philanthropy and community citizenship in his own family and set an exacting example for all to follow.
His university, business and community associates viewed him as a true builder of Simon Fraser University. He served on the SFU Board of Governors from 1967-1973, and was Chancellor from 1975-1978. The 1974 citation accompanying his SFU Honourary Doctorate of Laws Degree is as apt today as it was then: “Surpassing all his endeavors has been his concern for people. Today his family can reflect on the results of his selfless, generous and humanitarian spirit.”