Memorable members: "Budge" Bell-Irving
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver is celebrating its centennial this year. This article is part of a series that’s looking back on our history, and our impact on Greater Vancouver.
Henry Pybus (H.P.) “Budge” Bell-Irving was one of our most storied members. In addition to the significant contributions he made to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and the industry, he accomplished much outside of the profession.
Born in Vancouver and raised on Vancouver Island, he began attending the University of British Columbia (UBC) as a young man when the Second World War began. He enlisted and commenced a decorated career in the military, first serving as a battalion leader with the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, an infantry regiment of the Canadian Army.
He eventually took over command of the 10th Canadian Infantry Brigade for the duration of the war. He was decorated for his service in Italy and the Netherlands. After the liberation of the Netherlands, Bell-Irving commanded the first Canadian soldiers to enter Amsterdam, where they received a hero’s welcome. He continued to serve the regiment in various capacities until his honourable discharge in 1989.
When he returned to Vancouver, he went to work for the family business, Bell-Irving Insurance Agencies. Later, he started Bell-Irving Realty.
Bell-Irving was elected president of the Board in 1958 after serving the previous year as vice-president. During his tenure, he contributed to two of the biggest events in the history of BC real estate: the passing of the Real Estate Act, and the establishment of a pre-licensing course at UBC for students studying to become REALTORS®.
In 1972, Bell-Irving merged his company with A.E. LePage. Two years later, while serving as a senior executive with the company, he was elected chairman of the Vancouver Board of Trade.
Then in 1978, he was appointed as the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia by Governor General Jules Léger. He dutifully served the office for just over five years, stepping down in 1983.
In 1984, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. A year later, he received the Order of British Columbia, and in 1986, he was named a Freeman of the City of Vancouver.
Giving back was second nature to Bell-Irving, who dedicated time and effort throughout his life to places like Vancouver Children’s Hospital, National and Provincial Council of the Boy Scouts of Canada, St. John Ambulance (British Columbia and Yukon), BC Corps of Commissionaires, Seymour Demonstration Forest Committee, Steelhead Society of British Columbia, and Disabled Sailing Association of British Columbia, to name a few.
He passed away in 2002.