As Acadia University celebrates its 175th anniversary, it is recognizing some of its best known graduates.

Oil is Arthur Irving’s bread and butter, but the oil tycoon was better known for his love of bread and peanut butter during his Acadia days.

Before he went to join his father and brother at Irving Oil – a company he would later take over – it was at Acadia where he showed he already had a keen sense for business.

“There weren’t the fast food outlets around in those days,” said Irving. “If you had a 25-pound pail of peanut butter and jam, you could make sandwiches.”

Irving started a business out of his room in residence, feeding hungry students peanut butter sandwiches when the dining hall was closed.

“I always liked to sell, and sales over here were pretty good to me,” said Irving. “I sold clothing as well, sports equipment, sweatshirts and sweatpants to the girls and boys.”

Irving has maintained a close relationship with the university over the years – he and his brothers donated the KC Irving Environmental Science Centre and the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens to the school in honour of their parents. He also served as chancellor from 1996 to 2010.

Because of his ongoing dedication to the school, Irving was among the alumni honoured on Friday as part of Acadia’s 175th birthday celebrations.

The family of Clara Belle Marshal Raymond, Acadia’s first female graduate in 1884, was also on hand as a memorial was unveiled in her honour.

Rev. Dr. James Perkin, Acadia’s 12th president, was also honoured with the renaming of University Drive to Perkin Way.

The celebration was also about giving back. Three generations of the McCain family have either attended Acadia University or are currently enrolled. The family gave the university a gift of $1million.

“On behalf of my five siblings, I want to say how happy we are to be making this contribution to the university and to the community of Wolfville,” said Nancy McCain.

The Acadia Arena will be renamed the Andrew H McCain Arena in recognition of their father.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster