Wilbur Bernard MacDonald
At sunrise on May 20, 2020 heaven gained another saint with the passing of Wilbur Bernard MacDonald of Orwell Cove. A man with a gentle heart, a helper to many and a never-give-up attitude that served him well through many life challenges.
Dad was the third of ten children born to the late Leo and Helen MacDonald of Orwell on September 13, 1933. He was a loving husband to wife, Marie (O’Shea) since 2010 and was predeceased by our mother, Pauline (Murphy), his wife of 50 years.
Mom and dad raised nine children and celebrated the addition of in-laws, Dana (Lee), Helena (Robert Yeo), Laurena (Tony MacAdam), Ron (Maria), Bernie (Francine), Timothy, Juanita (Mike Fawcett), Andrew, Faber (Tasha).
Dad loved children and was a loving grandfather and remarkable role model to his 20 grandchildren, Nicholas, Katie, Thomas, Sine, Colin, Eilidh, Mairi, Michaela, Caelan, Kirstee, Shamus, Samuel, Isabel, Lily, Gabriel, Fiona, Maribeth, Josie, Anne, Kiernan. Predeceased by grandchildren Sophie, Butter Pauline & Michael and daughter-in-law Darlene Griffin.
Dad grew up in a loving home on the Orwell family farm. He will be missed by siblings, Ronalda Whalen (James), Augusta Harriman (Don), Ignatius (Ita), and Gloria Chapman (Cyril) and in-laws Sheila MacDonald, Marie Morrissey, Evelyn Evans (Dwight), Charles Murphy (Willie), Phyllis Leddy (Mike), Leo Murphy (Jane). He was predeceased by siblings Charles, Leo Ronald Jr., Marcellus, Gloria, and infant Joseph and in-laws Joan MacDonald, Lorna MacDonald, Everett & Joan Murphy, Norbert Murphy, Irene & Ron McInnis, Ruth & Benny MacPhee and James Morrissey.
Dad is survived by numerous nieces and nephews and Marie’s children, Matt (Mona), Monica (Al MacKay), Mark (Katherine), Bobby, and Loretta (John Van Ekris),
A constant in Dad’s life was his Catholic faith, which guided many of his actions during his life. He was known as a devoted family man, who was committed to public service and whose love of Prince Edward Island and Canada were always evident.
When Dad was 13, he was admitted to the Charlottetown Sanatorium due to Tuberculosis (TB), it was a difficult period of his life. He made many friends some of whom passed away at a very young age. In 1948 he was treated with the first antibiotic discovered to treat TB, that quite likely saved his life, and he was able to return home just in time to celebrate Christmas with siblings that he had not seen in over two years.
While the antibiotic cured him of the disease he had lasting effects to his hip, but this did not slow him down. He finished his elementary education at Orwell School and then attended St. Dunstan’s High School. In 1951 Dad moved to Toronto where he worked in manufacturing and geology. In 1957 he returned to PEI to help his father on the family farm.
Dad married mom in 1958. They resided in Orwell until 1966 when they purchased the MacDonald ancestral family home in Orwell Cove where he continued his mixed farm, working closely with brother Marcellus for many of those years. Dad loved horses, breeding and owning standard bred race-horses. In retirement, Dad and Marie received much enjoyment from watching their horse Eagle Jolt race, trained and driven by his great-nephew Mark Campbell. Baseball was his favorite sport, he played for many years and teaching us how to play was a great joy. Passionate Blue Jay fans Dad and Marie rarely missed watching a game and traveled to both Toronto and Florida to watch them play. Dad also enjoyed hockey and football and cherished opportunities to see his children and grandchildren play all sports.
Dad had a passion for travel. He loved to tell us the story about when he took a bus from Toronto to BC for the British Empire Games in Vancouver but ran out of money and had to hitchhike his way back. Another highlight was teaching his children how to raise money over two summers growing and selling cucumbers so the family could drive to Florida to visit Walt Disney World. He enjoyed opportunities to visit us and his grandchildren in the various places they lived, including driving across the country to Calgary with Mom and 4 of us children. Other highlights included visiting his ancestral island of South Uist in Scotland, a trip with his siblings and their spouses to visit relatives in Australia & New Zealand and other trips to the U.S., Mauritius, Europe, the Caribbean, Israel, Alaska, and all of the Canadian provinces and territories.
Dad was able to make his contribution to public life through the presence and support of mom and the nine of us. Dad had deep respect for both his colleagues and adversaries. He first ran for public office in 1979 and was elected as a Member of Parliament to the House of Commons representing the Cardigan riding, participating on the House of Commons Standing Committees’ on Regional Development, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
In 1982 Dad decided to again pursue his passion for politics, he was elected to represent Fourth Queens and served as the Minister of Industry for two years. In 1986 he was re-elected to the Opposition and served as the Industry critic. From 1996 to 2000, he represented District 6, Belfast- Pownal Bay in the Legislature. From 1997-2000 he thoroughly enjoyed his time serving as Speaker of the PEI Legislative Assembly. Over his political career Dad worked diligently for all of his constituents and became widely respected among colleagues of all parties for his sincerity, honesty and work on behalf of his constituents. He retired from politics in April 2007.
Dad was known for his dedication to his community and its residents, serving in many capacities in organizations including the Orwell Corner Museum, Caledonia Club of PEI, Sir Andrew MacPhail Foundation, Selkirk Settlers 200th Anniversary Celebration, 4-H Club, PEI Soil and Crop Assoc., National Farmers Union, Federation of Agriculture, Credit Unions & Co-operative movements, Vernon River Consolidated School, Home and School Assoc., PEI Right to Life Assoc., Land Use Commission, Vernon River Lions Club and Knights of Columbus.
Resting at the Hillsboro Funeral Home, Stratford with private family arrangements due to Covid 19 restrictions. A memorial service to be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to St. Joachim’s Cemetery Fund or the PEI Right to Life Association be appreciated.