07/12/2011 07:06 EDT | Updated 09/11/2011 05:12 EDT

Richard Oland Homicide: Moosehead Beer Scion Likely Knew His Killer, Police Say


THE CANADIAN PRESS -- SAINT JOHN, N.B. - Police refused to comment on a report published on Tuesday that prominent New Brunswick businessman Richard Oland was bludgeoned to death with an axe.

The Toronto Star quoted an unnamed source as saying the 69-year-old Oland was killed with an axe.

Police in Saint John wouldn't comment on the report and have refused to release the cause of death.

At a news conference on Monday, police Chief Bill Reid said Oland's death is being investigated as a homicide, but he released few other details about the investigation.

Reid said police believe Oland knew the person responsible for his death, which he said was not part of a robbery or random act.

Oland's body was found in his Canterbury Street office in Saint John on Thursday.

Quoting its source, the Star said police have a "number one" suspect in the killing whose story has been full of inconsistencies.

Oland was a member of the family that owns Moosehead Breweries Ltd., although he left the company in the 1980s.

On Tuesday afternoon, friends, family and politicians filled Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in nearby Rothesay for Oland's funeral as he was remembered for the impact he had on the community and the province.

Pat Darrah, who worked with Oland for six years to bring the Canada Games to Saint John in 1985, sobbed as he began the eulogy.

"We went through a lot of wonderful times together and they have a wonderful family," he said after the service. "It's just a tragedy what took place."

Rothesay Mayor Bill Bishop said people are still shocked at what happened.

"He was a doer," he said. "He was responsible for this church and the Canada Games, and was looked on very highly by the citizens of Rothesay and Greater Saint John."

Oland, who was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 1998, grew up in Rothesay and was educated at the University of New Brunswick. He was the younger brother of Derek Oland, who is now executive chairman of Moosehead.

After leaving the family business, Richard Oland worked in the trucking business, at the Saint John Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., and as a director for several firms, including Eastern Provincial Airways, Newfoundland Capital Corp. and Ganong Bros.

Most recently, he was president of the investment firm Far End Corp., according to the Saint John Board of Trade.

Oland is survived by his wife Constance, two daughters, a son and seven grandchildren.