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Killing brings Oland's name into spotlight after a decade of winding down

For a man whose death has garnered national attention, the latter part of Richard Oland's life was lived out of the spotlight.

He raced his boat in international competitions, fly-fished with New Brunswick's most powerful people and skied in Colorado. But at an office on Canterbury Street in Saint John's uptown, Mr. Oland laid low.

There, he ran the Far End Corp., his personal investment holding company, and Kingshurst Estates, a woodlot and property rental company. Kingshurst Estates managed parcels of land left in the estate of Philip W. Oland, Mr. Oland's father. Less is known about Far End.

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At meetings, Mr. Oland could be seen monitoring investments on numerous computers. What he had invested in was less clear.

Mr. Oland was killed July 7 in his uptown Saint John office. Nearly two weeks since his death, there have been no charges laid in connection with the case. His family and close friends have kept quiet during the course of the investigation.

Outside of Saint John, Mr. Oland's connection to Moosehead Breweries is usually the first piece of his history that's mentioned. But Moosehead was not his life. He had exited the company by 1981; his last name simply carried the weight of six generations of brewing.

Securities and Exchange Commission documents show that in 2001 Far End held shares in Tengtu International Corp., a company that at one point supplied educational software to as many as 150,000 Chinese schools.

Other business Mr. Oland conducted is more well known. He was lead director on the board of Ganong Bros., Ltd., having been there for 29 years at the time of his death. And he stayed involved in community projects, playing a large role in building a new church for the Our Lady of Perpetual Help congregation in his Saint John suburb of Rothesay.

The church's pastor, Rev. Michael LeBlanc, says Mr. Oland was tireless, taking calls to answer questions even while skiing on vacation in Colorado. "He was always the type who was available," Father LeBlanc said.

He slowed down in the last 10 years. He registered Far End with the Saint John Board of Trade, but was not a highly active member. He had just completed two terms as a director with Enterprise Saint John, and made himself available in a mentorship capacity.

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These last 10 years were indeed quiet for Mr. Oland on the Saint John scene. "We never crossed paths," said Jeff Roach, a highly connected entrepreneur who spent the last five years heading an IT-industry networking company.

Mr. Roach, who has lived in Saint John since 2001, has spent a lot of time working the floor at networking events to connect startups with mentors. He understands the city's respect for Mr. Oland, and was surprised they never connected.

"He was enjoying life these last number of years," said David Ganong, chairman of the St. Stephen, N.B.-based chocolate giant Ganong Bros. Ganong, too, is a name that carries weight – the family has contributed to the local economy for generations.

Mr. Ganong fished with Mr. Oland four or five times over the last decade, including once on the Miramichi River just weeks ago. "It's something that Dick loved to do," Mr. Ganong said, but "I think he was beginning to love his sailboat racing a little bit more than his fly fishing in his most recent years."

Extremely successful in his class, Mr. Oland had just recently been given Canadian Sailing Association's International Sailor Award. His boat was "unique and fast," Mr. Ganong said, and Mr. Oland had plans to have a New Zealander design an even faster one.

Mr. Oland was known within the community for his efforts to bring the 1985 Canada Games to Saint John and for his work in the 1990s as president of the New Brunswick Museum. In 1996, Prince Charles attended the opening of the museum's new downtown exhibition centre, and met Mr. Oland. His efforts did not go unseen: In 1998, he was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada, like his father before him.

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"Anything he undertook," Mr. Ganong said, "he did seriously, and he did his homework extensively."

Editor's note: A previous version of this story wrongly identifed Philip W. Oland as Richard Oland's grandfather. This version has been corrected.

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