Despite closing of JBM, MacDonald’s legacy continues to be honoured

Published on October 1, 2013
New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan and Joe MacDonald stand before a painted portrait of John Brother MacDonald, Joe’s father. The boardroom at the town office has been named in honour of John Brother MacDonald. Amanda Jess – The News

NEW GLASGOW – With the closing of the rink bearing John Brother MacDonald’s name, the Town of New Glasgow is taking steps to make sure the local athlete, sports builder, coach and announcer isn’t forgotten by naming the board room in the town office after him.

“My colleagues on town council and I are very proud to name this room, the John Brother MacDonald Boardroom, and to have the portrait of Brother that has been painted by artist David MacIntosh and that previously was on display in the Stadium and commissioned through the sponsorship of the New Glasgow Rotary Club, have a place of honour in the John Brother MacDonald Boardroom,” Mayor Barrie MacMillan said during his remarks.

The John Brother MacDonald Stadium officially closed on Monday. The rink had been renamed in MacDonald’s honour in 2004. But with the opening of the Pictou County Wellness Centre, the Town of New Glasgow decided that for the betterment of the new facility they would close their aging rink. With the closure, they didn’t want the man who it was named in honour of to be forgotten.

“Our town council wanted to find another way to continue to recognize the outstanding contributions of Brother MacDonald to the life and times of New Glasgow.”

In the boardroom will be a plaque recognizing it as the John Brother MacDonald Boardroom.

Joe MacDonald, John Brother MacDonald’s son, said that while he is sad to see the old rink close, he’s glad the town has seen fit to recognize his dad this way.

“It’s a great honour for my father and my family,” he said.

He said his father recognized the importance of all aspects of sports from the players and coaches to the administration. It was in fact one of the former mayors of New Glasgow who was instrumental in bringing John Brother to the town.

“It’s kind of fitting that the boardroom would be named after him,” Joe MacDonald said.

During his speech, MacMillan talked of John Brother’s history.

He was a native of Sydney Mines and graduated from St. FX University in 1947 where he starred in baseball, rugby, track and hockey. He was a four-letter athlete and was part of three Maritime Intercollegiate Championship Hockey teams. John Brother’s studies were interrupted when he served as a physical education instructor with the Royal Canadian Artillery in Petawawa during the Second World War. His degree at St. FX was in biology and he went on to receive his degree in physical education from McGill University.

“Brother was one of the most versatile and talented athletes of his era and went on to become a stellar coach creating a golden age of championship teams at New Glasgow High School in the fifties and sixties,” MacMillan said.

MacMillan himself was coached by John Brother.

“I thought he was a very good coach,” he said. “He certainly knew what he wanted out of his high school hockey players and he loved to win.”

Hockey was the sport that brought John Brother to New Glasgow and he was a standout for the Senior New Glasgow Bombers coached by Foster Dickson. He also stood out as a baseball player, in both junior and senior leagues.

In 1948, John Brother became director of physical education for New Glasgow High School, a position he held for 38 years. A stellar coach in hockey, track, rugby and baseball, MacMillan said John Brother also found time to mentor students and his impact was felt far beyond the school system.

Clint Dickson is another former player of John Brother and says that the coach taught him and others the skills to succeed on the ice and in life.

“To win you had to never give up,” Dickson said. “He just somehow could get that message to you and I had a lot of respect for him.”

John Brother was the catalyst behind Kinsmen Baseball as well as New Glasgow Minor Hockey that was formed by the New Glasgow Rotary Club. He officiated in hockey and baseball, as well and was the professional announcer for both amateur and boxing cards. He also became an announcer at CKEC.

“We will always remember the phrase we heard every week day morning that Brother made his own-‘We can’t always be good athletes but we can all be good sports!’” MacMillan said.

Brother was inducted into the St. FX Hall of Fame, the Pictou County Sports Hall of Fame, the Nova Scotia Sports Heritage Hall of Fame, the Cape Breton Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame.

“His service to community and to youth made him a citizen that has had a significant, lasting and meaningful impact on life in New Glasgow and Pictou County,” MacMillan said.

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