(July 28/17) It is with deep sadness that Restaurants Canada and the foodservice industry say goodbye to Robert McKelvie, a passionate restaurateur and dynamic mentor and leader. Robert passed away on July 12, 2017.

Born and raised in Ontario, Robert moved to Halifax as a teenager to play football at Dalhousie University. He started his career with the federal government, but soon switched gears to follow his passion for food and wine. Robert moved to Montreal, where he spent two years learning the restaurant trade at the renowned William Tell restaurant, before returning to Nova Scotia in 1979.

Robert and his business partner made their mark on Halifax’s restaurant scene, opening McKelvie’s in 1982 and Salty’s in 1990. Specializing in fresh Nova Scotian seafood, these restaurants became destinations for locals and tourists alike.

Robert also sat on the Board of Directors for Restaurants Canada (then CRFA) between 1996 and 2013, where he tirelessly promoted issues of importance to our industry. As Chair of the Board in 2006, he took great pride in highlighting the important role the restaurant industry plays in job creation, economic development, tourism and community.

Robert will be remembered for his passion and commitment to the restaurant industry, the mentoring of youth and the betterment of his community. Robert will be deeply missed by his loving wife Margie, and his two children Emma and Sean.

Restaurants Canada is honoured to share some of the many tributes to Robert received from colleagues at the association.

“Without a doubt, Robert was one of the most generous men that I knew – of his time: he would always be available for a fireside chat about industry issues, or would simply stop in to pay a visit when he was in town; of his knowledge, he was always willing to admit that he too could learn new tricks and was happy to share with others; in spirit as well, he constantly had an inside story on things and would regale us with that little glint in his eye, and be comfortable with bakers, or bankers, busboys + buskers; but more than anything he was both generous and genuine in his special feel for humanity – always willing to go above and beyond with people he met. He was definitely from another era – a TRUE, Chairman of the Board. Always remembered, deeply missed.”

Bill Simpson, Toronto, Ont.

“We were privileged to have met the McKelvies over 20 years ago through our mutual membership on the CRFA Board of Directors and have many treasured memories from personal experiences shared throughout a special ongoing friendship.  We were always grateful to share in Robert’s talents, knowledge, expertise and insight into the restaurant industry. His energy and enthusiasm was exemplified through his engaging smile, sense of humour, and ongoing willingness to seek adventure. Robert was a strong loyal friend as well as a caring and generous man who will be dearly missed!”

Don and Marnie Richardson, Stoughton, Sask.

robert mckelvie

“I am so sorry to hear of Robert’s passing. Robert’s leadership and advocacy for the restaurant industry was exemplary. He inspired and taught a whole generation of restaurateurs about the value of working with one another, sharing ideas, and creating success together.  He was always generous in his praise and recognition of the efforts and accomplishments of others, and was a trusted friend, colleague, and partner. I knew Robert through our work together with Restaurants Canada. He was Chair of the association the year I joined, and he set a high bar as a forceful but fair leader, always willing to listen but firm in his resolve to make everything he touched better.  In this, as in so many other areas, Robert succeeded.  I know I speak for many who will miss his intelligence, humour, and passion.”

Susan Senecal, Vancouver, B.C.


“It saddened me to hear about the passing of Robert. Not only was he a mentor to me, but a dear friend and a great person.  When I joined the CRFA (now Restaurants Canada), it was Robert who took me under his wing and taught me not only how to make sure I take care of my own restaurant, but to also keep updated on the changing trends of the restaurant industry. His passion fed my passion and I am truly grateful of the time we have spent together.  I will miss him!”

Liam Dolan, Charlottetown, P.E.I.

“I worked closely with Robert when he has a Director of Groupex Canada.  The Groupex team will always remember the passion and leadership he brought to the organization. I personally will fondly remember his thoughtfulness, hospitality and great sense of humour.”

Ben Chan, Edmonton, Alta.


2 responses to “In Memoriam: Remembering Robert McKelvie”

  1. Andrew Laffey says:

    I’m shocked and saddened on learning about the untimely death of Robert McKelvie. He was the genuine article – true to himself and the industry he served. He will be sadly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with Margie and family.

    Andrew & Elinor Laffey

  2. Jean Lefebvre says:

    Met Robert and his wife at the Dijon train station on my first CRFA trip to Burgundy in 2003. All four of us took a cab that we remembered each time we met. A great man and a truly gentlemen, a friend of Quebec. Also plaid golf with him in PEI. Found memories for Colette an I.

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