Take a drive around Niagara and it’s easy to see the impact Tom Rankin has had on the region.
From parking lots to bridges, from the Meridian Centre to components of the Welland Canal, Rankin’s construction company has built much of the infrastructure Niagara residents rely on.
But as much as Rankin Construction is synonymous with major civil projects, the man behind the brand has had just as much of an impact on the community. The annual cancer run bearing his name, for example, draws around 13,000 people each year and has raised $7.5 million for local cancer care facilities.
On Friday, Oct. 13, Tom Rankin will be recognized at Brock University with an honorary doctorate during the school’s Fall Convocation ceremony.
Born in Kirkland Lake, Rankin worked as a development and construction engineer for the Ontario Department of Highways, and the cities of Niagara Falls and St. Catharines in the 1960s and ’70s. In 1978, he launched the company that would become Rankin Construction Inc., and it has continued to grow ever since.
Rankin Construction and its related businesses now employ about 500 people in Niagara, Hamilton and Kincardine.
A former Board of Trustees member for Brock University, Rankin has often been recognized for his professional accomplishments and philanthropic work. Most recently, he was the recipient of Niagara’s 15th T. Roy Adams Humanitarian Award.
“It means a lot to be honoured by the University,” said Rankin, who has also received an honorary degree from his alma mater, St. Francis Xavier in Nova Scotia, and was named an honorary graduate from Niagara College. “It’s a privilege and an honour when a university bestows that on an individual.
“I’m very proud because I think Brock has come to the forefront so I’m proud to be associated with it.”
Brock’s Fall Convocation on Friday, Oct. 13 will see more than 1,000 graduates cross the stage during ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Rankin will be conferred and will deliver the convocation address during the afternoon ceremony.
Rankin said he plans to remind the graduates about the importance of hard work and getting involved in their community.
“I’m going to tell them some of the things I’ve learned as an individual,” he said. “I’ll tell them about some of the things that helped me, and that they have to get more involved today in politics. They can’t just sit back and leave it to others.”
Of all the projects his companies have been involved in over the years, Rankin said the Meridian Centre is the one that stands out the most.
“You can build a sewer or water main, but they’re in the ground and you never see them again. But I can sit in the Meridian Centre … it just means so much,” he said.
Convocation ceremonies will be held inside Ian Beddis Gymnasium in the Walker Sports Complex and are open to the public. Tickets are not required. A reception for graduates, family and guests will follow each ceremony.