Jack MacDonald

Worked as a Radio Operator in the Arctic in the 1950s

Worked in the Marine Branch and Air Navigation Services of the DOT

Was Director of the Technical Services Branch

Retired from DOT in 1990



Passed Away in 2014 - Scroll Down for Obituary  

Décès en 2014 - Avis de décès au bas de la page  



Life Story: Jack MacDonald was 'a man for all seasons'

By Sylvia MacDonald

Published in the Ottawa Citizen on December 10, 2014


Jack MacDonald

Born: March 9, 1937 in Sydney, N.S.

Died: Jan. 26, 2014 in Ottawa of a heart attack


My husband, John Charles MacDonald, affectionately called Jack, the son of a Cape Breton steelworker, came from humble beginnings but through hard work and perseverance attained great success and was respected by all who came into contact with him.


Jack was born on Mar. 9, 1937 in Sydney, N.S. He passed away suddenly on Jan. 26, 2014 of a heart attack.


He was the oldest of seven children. His schooling was average except for missing a year at the age of seven due to pleurisy. He graduated from Sydney Academy in 1955. Jobs were scarce in Cape Breton and he did not have the funds to attend university. A notice in the post office for a career as a radio operator with training and pay looked like a great opportunity. So he headed off to St. John Vocational School in New Brunswick.


After completing the course, he was posted to Nottingham Island in the Arctic (an uninhabitable island) for 14 months in 1958-59 at the weather station.  He said there were two buildings, one they lived in and the other was the weather station. There was a rope between the two that was used in case of whiteouts. The station was comprised of five employees and two Inuit families who the government hired to look after the buildings and sled dogs.  Life at the weather station was cold and desolate but it was a stepping stone to furthering his education. Jack’s replacement there was his brother, George.


After the north, Jack was posted to Sydney Airport. It was at this point that we met. That Christmas Jack sent a message to George: “Let’s go to university.” George’s reply was, “OK, but what will we take?” After some thought they settled on engineering. They both enrolled at Dalhousie.


The main way he paid for his education was working as a radio operator in the summers. The first summer he worked on the ice breaker, Labrador. On their way north they ran into a hurricane. Jack was the only one on board able to man the station as everyone else was sick. He was sure they weren’t going to survive the trip. He also worked at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, which is Canada’s largest federal centre for oceanographic research, and Camperdown Marine Radio.


After graduation, we moved to Ottawa and Jack started working at Transport Canada. Other than a short term in Marine Branch, he worked in Air Navigation Services. He was involved in modernizing Canada’s air traffic system. In 1986 he was made director of the Technical Services Branch, where he worked until his retirement in 1990.


Jack’s passion, aside from family and work, was sports. When our three children were very young, he played and helped coach the Barrhaven Men’s Fastball Team.  He was a long time member of the Hunt & Golf Club. Once the children were involved in sports, he became a coach, umpire and huge fan. He coached for Pinecrest Little League for many years. The boys and I would meet him at the ball diamond when he was on his way home from work, with a change of clothes and an apple. In the winter he would switch to coaching hockey for Nepean Minor Hockey and for a few years was on the board of NMHA. One year he coached three teams and we didn’t have a child playing on one team.


He was extremely proud of his family. He presented our daughter, Kim, with her engineering ring at Carleton. Jack was amazed at Troy’s skills and his ability to build us a four-season sun room. Jack’s love of sports led Scott to attend the University of Michigan on a track scholarship.  Our grandson son, Dylan, was the joy of his life and Jack was thrilled that he was involved in sports and he, of course, was Dylan’s biggest supporter, especially in hockey.


In June 2013 we celebrated our 50th wedding. Jack was my best friend and soulmate and a man of integrity, principle, kindness and encouragement.


— Sylvia MacDonald was Jack MacDonald’s wife


Obituary  -  Avis de décès

Jack MacDonald

1937 - 2014


(still looking for copy of obituary)


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