GUYSBOROUGH – Last week the community of Guysborough was saddened to learn of the passing of Miles MacDonald – long-time community educator, former municipal councillor, volunteer and friend to many.
Often seen walking along Main Street in Guysborough in his retirement, MacDonald was known to many in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough through his decades-long career in public education, where he touched the lives of many students and co-workers. In retirement, MacDonald was an active member of the community, volunteering in many organizations – especially with the Chedabucto Place Performance Centre – and serving two four-year terms as the councillor for District 1 in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG).
The Journal spoke to MODG Warden Vernon Pitts and District 1 Councillor Paul Long – also a former colleague of MacDonald’s in education – about MacDonald and his commitment and contribution to the community of Guysborough and the MODG.
“I looked to Miles numerous times for advice and opinions,” said Pitts. “He was a great sounding board who always worked as part of a team. He was a very valuable resource at the council table due to his education and knowledge acquired working with people. At times he was the team player who would suggest sober second thought. He was a real people person who was amazed by how our municipality worked from an operational perspective.”
In addition to the performance centre, MacDonald was a strong supporter of the Guysborough and Area Food Bank, Mulgrave Road Theatre and the Chedabucto Lifestyle Centre, said Pitts, adding that, “Sidewalks were very near and dear to his heart. I actually went to Miles’ residence to inform him of the approved sidewalk funding [this fall]. To say he was overjoyed would be an understatement.”
Pitts said that MacDonald was also an advocate for infrastructure projects across the municipality. “Miles was a councillor for District 1 but he was first and foremost a councillor for all of MODG. He always had a keen interest and vigorously supported various projects throughout MODG.
“He was so pleased to see the municipality undertake the construction of the Country Harbour Marina. If memory serves me correctly, I believe he named Councillor [Rick] McLaren the ‘Commodore,’ and Rick was only too happy to accept his new title,” said Pitts.
“Even after Miles decided to step down from council, I continued to seek his advice on numerous issues. He had a wealth of common sense, an open mind and the wish to help others. He was a visionary who had the ability to gauge the impact of various projects – pros and cons. He realized that our municipality, not just Guysborough, has unlimited, untapped potential be it from a residential perspective, from a business perspective, recreation perspective as well as a tourism perspective.
“As warden for the municipality, I considered Miles to be a strong team player whose family was very close to his heart. He had great respect for his fellow councillors and a willingness to work tirelessly for what he believed in. He will truly be missed by our community,” said Pitts, concluding that MacDonald left his mark on every district of the municipality.
Long, retired public school principal, told The Journal MacDonald’s passing was a tremendous loss for the community, “Miles was highly regarded by everybody… He was always positive.”
While MacDonald came to Guysborough to pursue a career in education, Guysborough quickly became his home, and he became one of the community’s most ardent supporters and promoters.
“We need more people of his kind to make our world a better place,” said Long.
In terms of their careers in public education, MacDonald, said Long, “Served as a mentor for me. I looked up to him with great respect for his knowledge and experience and just his compassion. I learned a lot from him, how to listen to people, how to be attentive to them…and try to make people feel valued. That’s what Miles was very good at.
“He touched a lot of lives through the school system. There’s no doubt about that. He was there for a long time beginning at the school in Lincolnville and all the way through the Guysborough school system. The number of people who he’s helped shape is unmeasurable – as far as the impact he’s had on them,” said Long.
Long, like MacDonald, followed his retirement from education with a successful bid for the District 1 council seat in MODG, which Long said he only pursued after MacDonald decided not to reoffer.
“I was very supportive of him [as councillor] and what he was doing; he was doing a great job. If I can follow in his footsteps there, I think I’ll be doing a good job as well. He set a high bar for people as far as ethical standards…We’re all shocked at his loss,” said Long, adding, “It’s a very sad time for the municipality, the village of Guysborough, for everybody concerned.”
Outside of their professional lives, Long played hockey with MacDonald and said, “He was a good guy to have around. He was positive and always trying to make people better which is a great quality for someone to have; trying to bring the best out in people.”
Long said MacDonald’s sudden passing will leave a void in the Guysborough area for a long time.