Irving K. Barber was born in Alberta in 1923. He dropped out of school in grade 11, but because of his service in World War II, he was given the opportunity to continue his education. Dr. Barber graduated at the age of 27 with a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry from UBC in 1950. He credits this ‘second chance’ at education as his starting point for the success he has enjoyed both personally and professionally, and this experience that has motivated him to become an ardent supporter of education.
Ike Barber spent all his working life in the forest resource industry; working with BC’s communities and its people. In 1978, at the age of 55, he founded Slocan Forest Products Ltd. with the highly leveraged purchase of one sawmill and a timber base in Southern British Columbia. Under Mr. Barber’s stewardship of over 20 years, Slocan grew to be a dominant public forest products company in Canada. A year after Barber retired as Chairman in 2002, Slocan Forest Products was purchased by Canfor.
Mr. Barber is recognized as one of BC's most prominent entrepreneurs and as a man who, over five decades, has worked to ensure that BC's forests benefit British Columbians. Mr. Barber has a strong commitment to strengthening British Columbia and improving the quality of life for BC residents. His generosity has been instrumental in helping to establish programs to promote research with the creation of the I.K. Barber Enhanced Forestry Laboratory at the University of Northern British Columbia, the Irving K. Barber Diabetes Research Endowment Fund at UBC, and the Ike Barber Human Islet Transplant Laboratory at Vancouver Hospital in partnership with UBC.