New book chronicles stories, successes of SDU graduate and former UPEI chancellor Don McDougall
A well-known Canadian and PEI entrepreneur with deep Island roots is the subject of Gary MacDougall's latest book, published by RetroMedia Publishing.
In Don McDougall | Business: Get it done, have some fun, the author chronicles the path that led a PEI boy and graduate of Saint Dunstan’s University to become the youngest president of Labatt’s Brewing; build and grow an aerospace company that had ties to the Canadarm; and bring the Toronto Blue Jays baseball club to Canada and F1 moto racing to Montreal.
McDougall's influence has been felt throughout Canada—enough to have earned him multiple inductions into various halls of fame, including the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
When McDougall first stepped onto the campus of Saint Dunstan’s University in the fall of 1952, he was not long removed from his days of selling newspapers in his home community of Bloomfield Station, PEI. It was in his first year that he met the most important and influential person in his life, Marion MacDonald. In 2008, 50 years after he and Marion graduated from SDU, they made a $2 million donation to UPEI. In honour of that donation, the University named a new academic building on campus “Don and Marion McDougall Hall”. The 50,000-square-foot building is the home of UPEI’s Faculty of Business.
Marion McDougall says she and her husband are forever grateful for the depth of knowledge, as well as the philosophy and theology, that was available to them during their university years.
Don McDougall’s association with UPEI continued in 2014 when he was elected as the eighth chancellor of the University for a four-year term.
Don McDougall is Gary MacDougall’s fourth Island biography. An experienced journalist with over 45 years in the newspaper industry, MacDougall was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to journalism.
“Don McDougall’s life journey has taken him from rural Prince Edward Island to big city corporate boardrooms and major league baseball stadiums,” says MacDougall. “At the core of his success is a rock-solid devotion to family and friends, fairness and faith, and joy and laughter. While others can identify the challenges at hand, Don has a knack for finding the solutions to overcome those challenges.”
Don McDougall grew up in Bloomfield Station, leaving at age 14 to attend high school at Saint Dunstan's University, where he also earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree. After graduating with an MBA from the University of Western Ontario, McDougall accepted a job with Labatt Breweries, a move that would start a 20-year career that saw him climbing the corporate ladder to become the company’s youngest president at age 35.
It was during his presidency that McDougall helped to bring the first American League baseball franchise to Canada. Baseball became an opportunity, and one that McDougall had to pursue for years before his efforts were successful. On April 7, 1977, he was on hand to watch the Toronto Blue Jays, sponsored by Labatt’s, play their first game in Toronto.
McDougall's career with Labatt’s wrapped up in 1979, but his success as an entrepreneur was just beginning. In 1983, he purchased Novatronics, an aerospace company he would own for the next 20 years, which, among other things, produced parts used on the Canadarm at the International Space Station.
“While Don has lived most of his adult life off PEI, he has continued to honour his PEI ties,” says the author. “When the Canadian Armed Forces base was closed in Summerside, the government hired Don as a consultant on what to do with the space, leading to the development of the Slemon Park Corporation.”
While Don and Marion live in Stratford, Ontario, they spend as much time in PEI as life allows. In 1985, he purchased Woodleigh Replicas, which he owned for 10 years, and, in 2017, he bought the Mill River Resort in O’Leary. He invested millions in revitalizing this community asset and is credited with a spectacular turnaround; Mill River is now one of the most popular golf and full season resorts in Atlantic Canada. He remains the resort’s owner.
“This is a man who is incredibly smart in all areas of his life,” states publisher Larry Resnitzky. “He married his best friend, and he has surrounded himself by well-connected and hard-working people. This is a man who turned a chance encounter with Brian Mulroney, back when the former prime minister was a debating student facing off against Don, into a life-long connection.”
Businessperson, entrepreneur, family man, investor, political junkie, amateur golfer, sports fan... McDougall is credited with all these titles, but he does not take full responsibility for these accomplishments.
“When I think of accomplishments, I can’t seem to get beyond thinking of people. People that I have recruited, mentored, teamed up with who went on to do things that I think were beyond what they thought they could do. If I was forced to say what was the most satisfying part of my 60 years in business, it would have been the satisfaction of seeing the people around me develop so well.”
Don McDougall | Business: Get it done, have some fun is available at retromedia.ca, getitdonehavesomefun.com, Indigo Charlottetown, Bookmark Charlottetown, and Coles in Summerside.