Gor­don Frank Proudfoot Q.C.

The Chronicle Herald (Provincial) - - OBITUARIES -


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:


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