Deaths Elsewhere

Deaths Elsewhere

March 22, 2004

Harrison McCain, 76, a Canadian billionaire whose family-owned business began in a cow pasture in New Brunswick and grew into one of the world's largest producers of frozen french fries, died Thursday at a Boston hospital after a long illness.

Mr. McCain, a straight-talking son of a seed potato exporter, applied his prodigious ability as a salesman to an idea for a product that would become a global commodity and a calling card of American culture: the frozen french fry.

In 1957, together with his three brothers, Wallace, Robert and Andrew, he opened a french-fry processing plant in his hometown, Florenceville, a hamlet of fewer than 1,000 people in western New Brunswick, less than 10 miles from the U.S. border.

The company, which still has its headquarters there, had annual sales of $6.4 billion last year. The company employs about 18,000 people.

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