Cdr Leo I. MacDonald CD, BA, LLB, RCN Retd
Born: 07 March 1937
Died: 26 August 2018
Braeshore, Pictou County – Born March 7, 1937, passed away Sunday evening August 26, 2018.
Leo attended Pictou Academy and joined the RCN in 1954 at the age of 17 in the first class of the Venture Plan. Over the years, he served in a number of ships including Ontario, Restigouche, Inch Arran, Sioux, Algonquin, Loon, Cormorant, Gatineau, Nipigon, Fraser, Porte St. Jean and Port St. Louis. Leo specialized as an Operations Officer and had his first command (HMCS Loon) in 1965 which involved training naval cadets for the Royal Military College. The Loon was given carte blanche with respect to how training was to be conducted, so one of the first ports of call was Pictou for the Lobster Carnival. The weather was so great that year, the then Lieutenant MacDonald decided to operate out of Pictou as his home port.
In 1968, Leo was selected by the Navy to attend Dalhousie University from where he received his BA with distinction in 1970 by which time he was a Lieutenant Commander. In 1972, Leo attended the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College. While visiting the United Nations in New York, he was selected to debate peacekeeping against the USAF Academy in the presence of Canadian and US ambassadors to the UN (Canada won). Leo was appointed as Executive Assistant to the Commander of Maritime Command, the largest Command in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Promoted to Commander in 1973, Leo assumed command of HMCS Fraser. During the 2 1/2 years in command, Fraser met every commitment assigned, including a period in the Standing Naval Force Atlantic. Fraser had a great crew with a can-do attitude, winning both fleet Cock of the Walk and SNFL Fleet Sports Olympiad. Fraser was the first Canadian warship to arrest foreign vessels for illegal fishing (Feb 96).
For a number of years Leo was able to arrange for a Canadian destroyer to visit Pictou for the annual Lobster Carnival and it was at a reception in one of these ships (HMCS Margaree) that he met Barbara Sharp, who was to become his wife and soulmate.
Leo retired from the Navy in 1977 to return to Dalhousie from where he received his LLB in 1980 and was admitted to the Bar the same year. Leo remained in the Naval Reserve and while at law school, during the summers, he commanded HMCS Porte St. Jean and HMCS Porte St. Louis, which of course he took to Pictou for the Lobster Carnival. He qualified as Convoy Commodore with the US Navy. Leo returned to Toronto as Syndicate Director for senior Naval Reserve Officers from across Canada. Leo practiced law in Dartmouth and Halifax before returning home to Pictou in 1984 where he practiced with the firm MacLean and MacDonald until he retired in 2004. From then until his death he remained Counsel to the firm.
Over the years, he remained active in community involvement having been Past President of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary for the Maritime Region (for which he was featured in MacLean’s magazine), Past Vice President of the Nova Scotia Naval Officers Association, Past President of the Pictou West Cancer Society, and past member of Pictou Recreation Committee. Over the years Barb and Leo always had a cottage and great fun ensued. Firing the cannon, water skiing, bonfires and games, wonderful travels and of course our wired hair fox terriers, made for a good life.
Leo was predeceased by his parents, Roy and Ethel MacDonald; sister, Shirley Rowley, and his biological mother, Gertie Porteous. Surviving are his wife, Barbara; daughter, Sandy (Michael Gaspar), Dartmouth; grandson, Derek, Toronto; brother, Ron (Kathy), North Bay; sister, Colleen (Michael) Mulville, Toronto; special nephews and nieces. Love and thanks to the medical community who cared for Leo and to our friends for being so supportive, and also a special thank you to Leo’s brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Wendy Pulchny.
At his request there will be no visitation or service. Donations in his memory may be made to a charity of your choice. Saturday, September 1st, a gathering to remember Leo will be held at Harbour House Restaurant, Pictou from 2-4 PM. It was Leo’s wish to treat friends to a glass!
Online condolences: www.mclarenfuneral.ca