Danny McLeod and the Chasse-Galerie connection

The Danny McLeod Athletic Endowment Fund

Part 5 of a series

During the 30th Reunion of the Class of 71 in 2001, most class donors expressed support for College athletics and several, in particular the Class Secretary 8926 Ray Hook, were in favour of setting up an endowment fund. Ray had first talked about an endowment as early as 1999. Although the class had made only a modest contribution during the 2000 canoe trip, members of the class donated over $25,000 in 2001 – almost half of the total. Some of this went directly to Athletics but the rest was kept in a separate Class of 71 fund at the RMC Foundation. Under Canadian tax rules, this should have been spent within two years but the class was given a bit of leeway. The RMC Foundation challenged the class to set up an endowment with an initial investment of $50,000, which would be sufficient to provide a significant annual return.

Ray canvassed our classmates and secured their approval, at least from those who replied. He also asked H25917 Major Danny McLeod to lend his name to the fund. Accordingly, in 2005 Ray and I signed an agreement with the RMC Foundation, represented by 13731 Steve France, to set up the Danny McLeod Athletic Endowment Fund. Donations would be accepted from any Ex-Cadet or member of the public, not just members of the Class of 71. An annual disbursement would be made to the athletics program at RMC based on the investment rate of return. The fund agreement was revised slightly in 2009 and again in 2016.

As of mid-2017 the fund had grown to $423,000. Annual disbursements totalling $97,000 have been made to athletics since 2007, mainly for specialized equipment and travel outside Ontario and Quebec.

Major Danny McLeod was a decorated tank commander, RMC’s first Director of Athletics and a legendary hockey coach. He received his commission from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in 1943 and fought with the South Alberta Regiment and the 29th Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. He earned the Military Cross in April 1945 for his action in engaging several enemy tanks. From 1960 – 1971 he served as the Athletic Director at RMC where he established the Physical Education and Athletics Department. During that memorable era he coached three hockey teams, including the Redmen, and played on a fourth. Ted Nurse wrote a biography of Danny entitled “Always a Leader.” According to Ted, Danny was still doing 100 pushups a day, well into old age. He became a lifelong supporter of the fund that bears his name and of the Chasse-Galerie fundraising canoe trips. In 2006, at age 84, he paddled around Point Frederick with the crew. Ten years later, his widow Sheila travelled alongside the canoe in a houseboat and paddled on several occasions, including the final stretch from Kingston Mills to RMC.

In Danny’s own words: “In 1943, Sandhurst gave me a rigorous and demanding physical education. We trained every morning before six – rain, snow or blow. I felt so fit and confident that I knew I could meet any challenge and win. There is no doubt in my mind that physical conditioning is of the utmost importance in battle conditions.

In the 1980s, a professor at RMC conducted a survey to determine which aspects of college training benefited young Canadian officers the most. Over 80% of respondents gave the nod to physical fitness and athletics. Preparation of the mind, body and soul is essential to transform officer cadets into capable and efficient leaders. Combined with a military ethos and academic knowledge, physical fitness endows officers with ability, integrity and confidence.  Soldiers will voluntarily follow strong, competent leaders. The whole range of physical education – from training and recreation to intramural and varsity sports – is absolutely critical to develop leadership ability.

Military academies such as RMC and Sandhurst provide a rare opportunity for young men and women to reach a high standard of physical fitness and to gain the confidence that comes with it.”

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