Armour Mayes McCrea

January 1, 1940April 16, 2013

Armour Mayes (Ben) McCrea M.Sc., P.Eng., PhD (Hon) Husband, father, grandfather, visionary builder, entrepreneur, conservationist and philanthropist, Armour Mayes (Ben) McCrea died April 16, 2013 at the QEII Hospital in Halifax at the age of 73. Born in Salisbury, New Brunswick in 1940, he earned a Civil Engineering Degree from the University of New Brunswick and a Masters in Science (Engineering) from the University of Illinois. He began his early construction career with Ellis Don and then Dineen Construction. In 1972 at the age of 32, he founded The Armour Group Limited, a company he led for almost 40 years and that is recognized today as one of the region’s largest integrated real estate and investment enterprises with close to 200 employees. One of his first major projects was the transformation of three downtown city blocks from derelict buildings into the internationally recognized Historic Properties. He oversaw construction and ownership of over 2.0 million square feet of office, residential, and hotel property in the Atlantic region and developed numerous landmark projects, including Founders Square, which preserved seven pre-confederation structures around one of Halifax’s largest office towers. Today, cranes and craftsmen are at work on the RBC Waterside Centre, which respectfully incorporates many key heritage structures. A leader in environmental sensitivity and conservation, he pioneered the use of sea water as the primary source of cooling and heating for buildings in North America and constructed Park Place V, the first privately developed multi-tenant commercial building in Nova Scotia to achieve the Green Building Council of Canada’s standard for LEED certification. In the 1980s he, along with other notable entrepreneurs bought the ailing Halifax Shipyards and resurrected it before selling it to the current owners, believing the land and buildings were too important to the region’s history and future to be used for any other purpose than as a shipyard. Many of his happiest moments were spent fishing and hunting in rivers and fields, and his reverence for nature was evidenced by his lifelong commitment to conservation. He provided active leadership in Ducks Unlimited in Nova Scotia, including the Annapolis Royal Wetlands Project; and the establishment of the Greenwing Legacy Project (later named the McCrea Legacy Centre) at the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park, which includes an Interpretative Centre and Marsh Trail and Scholarship Program to promote wetlands education for students. In 2012, Ben’s business and entrepreneurial contributions were recognized when he was inducted into the Nova Scotia Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame. Ben is the recipient of numerous other awards recognizing his professional and community leadership, including the Queens Golden Jubilee Medal, City of Halifax - 250th Anniversary Gold Medal, the 2006 Lieutenant Governors Greenwing Conservation Award, Ducks Unlimited Legacy Award, University Of New Brunswick - Engineering Dept. Wall Of Fame, the Halifax Chamber of Commerce 2009 Business Person of the Year Award, the 2010 Lieutenant Governors Conservation Award - Wild Atlantic Salmon Conservation and the 2010 Engineers Nova Scotia F.H. Sexton Gold Medal. He contributed generously to numerous causes including the Sacred Heart School, Annapolis Royal Project, McCrea Legacy Centre, Harry M. McCrea Memorial Scholarship, Mount St. Vincent University and the MBA-Engineering Management Scholarship at University of New Brunswick. He served on many community and national boards as Director of Fundy Tidal Power Corporation, Nova Scotia Place (now World Trade Centre), Council of Maritime Premiers Advisory Group, National Research Council of Canada Standing Committee on Building Code, Founding Director of Sacred Heart School and National Director of Ducks Unlimited Canada, Miramichi Salmon Association, and Scotia Springer Club. He was a life member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a member of the Nova Scotia Association of Professional Engineers, North British Society and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. He was predeceased by his parents, Harry M. and Marion (Brown) McCrea. He is survived by his devoted wife of 48 years, Joanne (Martin) the love of his life and best friend, brother Merle (Carol), sister Margaret (Kurt) Sauter, son Scott Armour (Kim), daughters Alison (Rick Benjamin), Janice, and son Stuart (Leah Lewis-McCrea). Also left to mourn are his grandchildren, Elizabeth Grace, James Armour, Jillian and Evelyn McCrea; as well as numerous nieces and nephews, and many dear friends. Arrangements are under the direction of Snow’s Funeral Home. Visitation will be held Friday, April 19, 2:30-7:00 pm, Park Place Ramada Plaza Hotel, 240 Brownlow Avenue, Dartmouth. The funeral service will take place Saturday, April 20, 3:30 pm, First Baptist Church, 1300 Oxford Street, Halifax. Rev. John E. Boyd will preside. Scott and Kim McCrea invite family and friends to a highland wake, Saturday, April 20, 5-9:00 pm, 1039 Marlborough Avenue, Halifax. The family is grateful for the dedicated care of Ben’s doctors and nurses on unit 8.2 and the MSIMCU at the QEII. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Ben’s memory to Ducks Unlimited Canada, Nova Scotia Heart and Stroke Foundation, or the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. A private interment will take place at a later date. Online condolences may be sent to


  • Memorial Service Saturday, April 20, 2013

Armour Mayes McCrea

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Ralph Paugh

April 30, 2013

Dear Joanne, I just heard of Mayes passing .I hope your doing well. I'm thankful for the help Mayes gave me years ago, He made a difference in my life and I am paying it forward. Sincerely, Ralph Paugh

Barbara McCann

April 26, 2013

Dear Scott and Kim: Although we did not know your father, having read his obituary in the National Post, it was very moving. He clearly was a man who lived his life well, and to the fullest and with passion for his world around him. You are in our thoughts as you and your family make the transition to life without his physical presence. But I am sure he will remain with you in new and unexpected ways.

Best wishes to you at this time,
Barbara and Bill McCann, Kingsburg

Amber Cox

April 25, 2013

Scott, Stuart, Alison, Janice and the McCrea family - I was so very sorry to hear of Ben's passing. He was certainly a man who will be long remembered for his vison and tenacity. As a Haligonian, I can truly say that the City is a better place because of him. I hope that your many memories will carry you through the days ahead.

Peter Freeman

April 23, 2013

Janice, Stu, Allison, Scott, Joanne,
Very sorry to hear of Ben's passing though very proud of his accomplishments as a father and business leader.
As a former 'kid down the street' I didn't know Ben well though when I spoke to him a few years ago and he recalled the treehouse, skateboard ramps and dirtbikes of Inglis St. 30 years ago that Stu talked about growing up it showed he really listened to his children to remember such tiny details that were important to them. What an incredible person. Please accept my condolences during this difficult time.

April 22, 2013

Elise and I wish to express our condolences to Joanne and all the McCrea family on the tragic loss of Ben. He was a towering presence in the life of all who knew him and especially those who knew him well.
Ben has left many memorials asspciated with his profession and he will be remembered by all who knew him. May you take comfort in the fact that his time on earth was not only productive but memorable.
With deepest sympathy,
Larry Doane

Janette Taper

April 22, 2013

Dear Kim, Scott, Gracie and James. I was unable to find a telephone number and also realizing how busy you have all probably been, felt that this was the best way to let you know how sorry we were to hear of the death of Scott's father. Please know that we have been holding all of you in our thoughts and prayers. Both of my girls found the loss of their grandmother very difficult and Alissa has been especially thinking of Grace. Kim, I have been remembering your many kindnesses to us when we have needed help. I know that you will all miss Mr. McCrae very much. We will be back in Halifax in August and look forward to seeing you. Janette, Charlotte and Alissa Taper

Kim McGee-Holman

April 21, 2013

Kim L McGee-Holman

April 21, 2013

Joanne, I'm holding in my hand a picture of Ben with some type of garter on his head and you are linked together with arms. Looks like a swing away from a dance position. You have a lovely laugh smile on your face and I know it will be hard to feel that way for awhile. Still saddened by my own double loss I was not able to come and I know you will forgive me. Keep giving yourself one day at a time and those you love near you for time will help I'm sure.
Sincerely, Kim L. McGee-Holman and family

April 21, 2013

Joanne and Family, Laurie and I both were so sad to hear about Ben. You are in our thoughts. May many happy memories provide some comfort to you at this sad time. It's been years since we have been in touch but I think of you often. Take care, Joan [McLean] and Laurie Taylor RR.#2, Newport, N.S. B0N 2A0

April 20, 2013

I was saddened to read of the passing of friend Mayes"Ben"McCrea.It has been some time since I have seen Mayes but last enjoyed a visit at his Halifax home in the months following our Salisbury High School Class of 1957 reunion.Mayes had many accomplishments for which he could well be proud.From my conversation with him it was indeed obvious that his family rated high in his list of importance.I will remember Mayes as a man with a kind heart who worked diligently and made a huge difference in his community.
My sincere sympathy to mambers of his family.
Burton Green,40 Surrey Crescent ,Fredericton,N.B. E3B4L3