Gordon Frank Proudfoot Q.C.
Gordon Frank Proudfoot, Q.C. died peacefully at his home in Halifax on May 1, 2020. He was 66. His wife, Madine Vanderplaat and children Devon (Sean) and Ben (Grace) were at his side.
Son of nurse Phyllis (née Conrad) and pioneering poultry geneticist Fred, Gordon was the second youngest in a family of four children: Judy (Bob), Brian (Ellen) and David (Susan).
An independent-minded litigator with a national reputation, a charismatic and eloquent orator, a spirited and quick-witted jokester, and a proud and devoted family man, Gordon built a big life from small town beginnings.
Born in Truro in August 1953 and raised in Kentville, Gordon was a classic Annapolis Valley boy, carrying with him a lifelong love of apples, hockey, rum-and raisin ice cream, radio, and a well-told story.
After winning an award for an ad hoc oral presentation about the life of Alexander Graham Bell in grade three, Gordon realized his gift of gab, and set his sights on the practice of law.
Gordon left Kentville to attend Acadia University, where his love of music and radio broadcasting flourished. After resettling to Halifax, he married his sweetheart, Madine.
When he received a rejection letter from Dalhousie Law School, he challenged the Dean of Admissions, who noticed an error had been made. He was immediately admitted and became editor of the Weldon Times, graduating in 1978.
Gordon was a highly successful lawyer, passionate about righting wrongs, pursuing justice and finding the truth.
The fifth lawyer at Boyne Clarke, Gordon was called to the bar in 1979, starting a long and storied legal career with over 130 reported cases including those heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. Doublewindsor necktie knots, well-polished Dack’s wingtips, and his treasured Montblanc fountain pen were the regalia of Gordon’s 41-year career as a litigator.
Gordon was also a leader outside of his practice, serving as President of the Acadia Alumni Association, establishing the annual Ton of Tin fundraiser in support of Feed Nova Scotia, and serving in provincial and national leadership positions within the Canadian Bar Association, including as its President in 1995.
When Gordon set his mind to something, very little could stop him. Determined to dish up a hot lobster supper to over two thousand Canadian Bar Association delegates visiting Halifax in 1993, Gordon defied doubters and collaborated with the Shore Club to successfully serve over 5500 lobsters at one sitting.
Overcoming insurmountable odds and disproving the voices of naysayers were pet interests of Gordon’s. He was a staunch and formidable advocate for thousands of individuals and businesses over the course of his career, carefully, patiently and persistently bringing resolution to conflict, mediating complex disputes, and fighting on behalf of injured Nova Scotians.
Gordon’s favorite place was the family cottage in Chester Basin. There, he built friendships with neighbours and led construction on a 100-foot wharf and breakwater. Boats and the water were in Gordon’s blood. His time owning Mistral, a 40-foot wooden sailboat, was a point of pride and accomplishment. Enlarged photographs of the sloop adorned his home, office and cottage even after he sold it.
A voracious reader and researcher, his insatiable curiosity was piqued by Canadian history, especially that which proved Canada’s superiority over the United States. The origins of hockey was of particular interest, culminating in the publication of several newspaper articles.
Gordon was a plain clothes gourmand, jaunting to Bedford with his colleagues for a Chickenburger with mustard and a Diet Coke, going to great lengths to find New York City’s "best" hot dog, chicken shawarma, and pizza, or debriefing every Wednesday night at Darrell’s with his wife Madine.
Despite multiple health issues later in life, Gordon defied all prognoses for over a decade of unassailable positivity, extraordinary productivity and wonderful memories, culminating in his retirement and enjoying both children’s weddings in 2019. He was incredibly proud of his children: Devon, a professor at Cornell University, and Ben, a filmmaker in Los Angeles.
In a pinch, conflict, or bout of indecision, friends and family could always count on Gordon for unselfish and sound advice. Gordon always advised: "Go big, or stay home."
Gordon went big in life. And now, he is home.
Gordon’s family would like to thank the amazing Nova Scotian health care professionals who provided him with such extraordinary life giving support.
Donations can be made to Feed Nova Scotia in lieu of flowers. A celebration of Gordon’s life will be arranged at a later date.
In the meantime, please send memories and photos of Gordon to his family at: