Cedric Ritchie, chairman and CEO of the Bank of Nova Scotia, is shown Jan. 15, 1991. He has died at age 88. (Canadian Press)

Scotiabank says Cedric Ritchie, who led the bank for more than 20 years, has died at age 88.

Born in Upper Kent, N.B., in 1927, Ritchie was instrumental in expanding Scotiabank internationally.

He was the bank's president from 1972 and its CEO and chairman from 1974 to 1995.

Under Ritchie's leadership, Scotiabank expanded into more than 40 countries and grew to 33,000 employees.

It continues to be known as Canada's most international bank.

Ritchie joined the bank in 1945 as a teenager with a high school education, working his way up from a teller in Bath, N.B., to chief accountant at the bank's Toronto branch before heading the company.

"Mr. Ritchie leaves a tremendous legacy, the impact of which can be found throughout Scotiabank's business today," the bank said in a statement Monday.

He was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1981 and inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame in 2000.

Among his other business activities, Ritchie served on the boards of several companies including Canadian National Railway and Canada Life Assurance Company.