Cen­te­nar­ian helped oth­ers achieve their own suc­cess

McNally do­nated his $1.2-mil­lion home on the es­carp­ment to the Bruce Trail As­so­ci­a­tion

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - NATALIE PADDON npad­don@thes­pec.com 905-526-2420 | @NatatTheSpec

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.

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