Centenarian helped others achieve their own success
McNally donated his $1.2-million home on the escarpment to the Bruce Trail Association
Providing those he loved with opportunities for success was one of the ways Patrick McNally channelled his generosity.
The Waterdown centenarian valued education, family and caring for the next generation above all else, and these priorities were reflected in how he gave, said son John McNally.
“He didn’t give you money or give you anything just because you looked like you wanted it,” said John, 72. “He gave because he felt that this was something that was going to give you an opportunity to be successful.”
A pioneering contractor, an investor and an avid reader, McNally died at 101 at the Waterdown home he’d lived in for the past 60 years.
McNally supported his family. He ensured his five children and 19 grandchildren had the schooling they wanted, financial assistance to help launch businesses and a home they could call their own.
“If he felt somebody was a decent person and needed help, then he would help out,” said grandson Graham McNally. He also gave to the community. In 2006, McNally donated his $1.2-million Niagara Escarpment home to the Bruce Trail Association — the largest gift in the history of the association at the time.
At a reception at his 11-hectare property, McNally told The Spectator he wanted everyone to experience the pleasure he’d had from his spot on the escarpment brow in Waterdown.
Graham, 34, said it was important to his grandfather that children — including his more than 20 great-grandchildren — still had green space to play despite the changes he witnessed in Hamilton’s landscape over his 101 years.
Some of that development was his doing.
McNally’s construction company, P.J. McNally and Sons, which specialized in road engineering and tunnelling, built the Jolley Cut.
They blasted through the escarpment to build the access, connecting downtown Hamilton with the central Mountain, and also constructed the long climb from Hamilton up the Ancaster hill for Highway 403.
“He made a really, really significant contribution to the infrastructure of the region,” said son Paul McNally.
A longtime supporter of the Royal Botanical Gardens, McNally sat on the board of directors for a time and also brought his engineering knowledge and expertise to their initiative to help restore the Cootes watershed.
RBG CEO Mark Runciman remembers McNally as a quiet man and a real leader.
“He was such a mentor to me,” Runciman said, noting he taught him to always think things through and go with his gut.
“He was so concerned about maintaining green space … for children to enjoy and children to learn about the environment around them.”
McNally was also responsible for the outdoor ice loop in Waterdown. Built in the northwest corner of Memorial Park, the $2.2-million project includes a 4½-metre wide ice loop through a small woodlot in the park that can be used by in-line skaters in the summer.
He came to his fellow Rotarians in 2011 wanting to donate $1 million through them to build the rink for youth and families.
“This was Pat’s vision,” said Garry Flood in a eulogy for McNally on behalf of the Rotary Club of Waterdown.
When McNally set his sights on something, he made it happen, but not without taking time to lend a hand to those who needed it en route, his granddaughter Sarah wrote in her eulogy.
“He forged his way through life … but he was always, always reaching out to take people along with him, whenever he saw someone he could help, he did so. He simply thought, I can help this person, and he did.”
Patrick McNally wanted to preserve green space for children.