Harriet Irving Library

Research Commons and Rose Garden

The visionary and generous support of the Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation has provided the University of New Brunswick with an incomparable opportunity to achieve a new standard of excellence, for which we are deeply grateful.

Unique in Canada, the Harriet Irving Library Research Commons has transformed the third floor of the Harriet Irving Library into a modern, interdisciplinary, research-driven learning environment to further innovation, scholarship, and research at UNB. On a foundation of new spaces, technologies, and programming, the Research Commons is building on UNB’s strategic vision, with an emphasis on transformative education, community engagement, and research impact.

Like the Research Commons, the Harriet Irving Rose Garden is dedicated to Harriet Lila Irving. Honouring her love of flowers and her kind, unwavering support of young people, the garden is a place of beauty, repose and reflection for all to enjoy.

Harriet Irving Library Research Commons

Virtual celebration

Harriet Lila Irving

July 12, 1899 – May 5, 1976

Harriet Irving

“I believe everyone who knows Mrs. Irving has come to recognize her sterling qualities of sincerity, and strength of character and quiet good humour. She has a concern for the young people of Canada and for all of youth in this difficult and dynamic age in which we all live. In welcoming her to the University of New Brunswick this afternoon I do want her to know how very much we have appreciated and have been encouraged by this evident interest of hers in our library development.”
- Colin B. Mackay, President & Vice Chancellor (at the official opening of the Harriet Irving Library at UNB on October 11, 1967)

HIL Rose Garden

Known for her love of her family, and her many acts of kindness and caring for her community and always her interest in young people, Harriet Irving was the natural namesake for the University of New Brunswick’s fine new library when its cornerstone was laid in 1966.

Harriet Irving was a native New Brunswicker, born in Galloway, Kent County. In 1919, she went to work in the Irving store in Bouctouche, where she met Kenneth Colin (K.C.) Irving, the young entrepreneur who was to become one of Canada’s most successful businessmen. They married in 1927 and moved to Saint John where they raised their three sons, James, Arthur and John.

Harriet Irving was asked by Lord Beaverbrook to serve as a founding member of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s first Board of Governors who were responsible for developing both the building and its collection. Lord Beaverbrook, who was also Chancellor of the University of New Brunswick, K.C. Irving, a long-time member of the UNB Board of Governors, and Harriet Irving all shared a strong commitment to this university’s future success. In the 1960s, K.C. Irving was national chair of the UNB Development Programme, a major fundraising campaign that sought contributions for a number of new buildings, including the library that would ultimately bear his wife’s name.

Harriet Irving was an exemplary citizen of this province and a passionate supporter of its people, its institutions and its culture.


A great many people played a role in the development and successful completion of the Harriet Irving Library Research Commons and the Harriet Irving Rose Garden.

  • Arthur, Sandra and Sarah Irving
  • Mary Jane Adams, Associate Vice-President (Capital Planning & Operations)
  • Lesley Balcom, Dean of Libraries
  • John Bigger, Former Interim Associate Vice-President, Campus Operations
  • Suzanne Boudreau, Manager, Research & Stewardship
  • Marc Bragdon, Head, Harriet Irving Library Research Commons
  • Matthew Brown, Co-founder, Brackish Design
  • Kelly Brubaker, Principal, Shepley Bulfinch
  • Eddy Campbell, Former President & Vice-Chancellor
  • Michael Cantwell, Former Executive Director, Arthur L. Irving Family Foundation
  • Mattia Fonzo, Manager, Harriet Irving Library Research Commons
  • Craig Hickey, Project Manager, Major Capital Projects
  • John Leroux, Manager of Collections & Exhibitions, Beaverbrook Art Gallery
  • Karen L’Oiseau, Research and Stewardship Officer
  • James MacKenzie, Director of Advanced Digital Research and Scholarship, Libraries
  • Paul J. Mazerolle, President & Vice-Chancellor
  • Peter McNay, Director of Strategic Sourcing, Irving Oil
  • Susan Montague, Acting Vice-President (Advancement)
  • Barbara Nicholson, Former Associate Vice-President (Capital Planning & Operations)
  • Daniel Porter, Artist
  • Ron Shaddick, Director of Planning, Planning & Operations
  • Paisley Sibbald, Communications Officer
  • Bob Skillen, Former Vice-President Advancement
  • Mario Tiozzo, Director of Planning & Analysis, Libraries
  • Barry Upton, Site Coordinator, Facilities Management
  • Jay Verspyck, Director of Design, Build Health International
  • Ian Whitcomb, President, Irving Oil
  • Darroch White, D.M. White Architecture Inc.