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Diamond, Jack

DIAMOND, JACK

DIAMOND, JACK (1909–2001), Canadian businessman, thoroughbred breeder, racetrack owner, philanthropist. Born in Lubience in Galicia, Poland, Diamond learned about animals, including butchering, on his father's farm. He immigrated to Vancouver in 1926, several years after his brother. In 1939 he acquired the Pacific Meat Company and transformed it into the largest independent meat packer in western Canada. During the war he first served as a lobbyist in Ottawa for small meat packers, then as an adviser to the Wartime Prices and Trade Board on meat pricing and supplies. In 1964 he sold Pacific Meat and he and his sons established West Coast Reduction, a rendering operation. Within two decades the firm dominated rendering in western Canada. Jack Diamond was also enthralled with thoroughbred racing. In 1938 he set up his own stables and started buying and successfully breeding horses. After the war, he owned and operated two Vancouver race tracks, and in 1977 was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Jack Diamond also worked for and contributed to a number of Jewish and non-Jewish causes. In the late 1940s he was instrumental in the building of a new synagogue for the Orthodox Schara Tzedeck, and also served as chair of the congregation's Cemetery Board for more than 40 years. He is credited with saving Vancouver's claim to the British Empire Games in 1954, was instrumental in the creation of the bc Heart Foundation, and served on the Board of Governors of Simon Fraser University (1967–73) and as chancellor (1975–78). Diamond and his family established the Diamond Foundation in 1984. The foundation supports, above all, local Jewish causes with an emphasis on education and has funded the Diamond Chair in Jewish Law and Ethics at the University of British Columbia, and has provided major support for a Jewish day school in the suburb of Richmond, and a Jewish high school in Vancouver. In 2005 the president of the Foundation was Jack's son Gordon and the executive director was his granddaughter Jill.

Diamond's many honors include his 2000 appointment as a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest honor that Canada bestows on a citizen.

bibliography:

G. Sirotnik, Running Tough: The Story of Vancouver's Jack Diamond (1988), published by the Diamond family.

[Richard Menkis (2nd ed.)]

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