Elite ath­lete, WWII pilot to be in­ducted into Hall

The Glengarry News - - Sports In The Glens - The Glen­garry News Files from the Glen­garry Sports Hall of Fame and Mary Le­duc

The late Pilot Of­fi­cer Camp­bell “Geeses” MacGil­livray was born June 17, 1921, son of Hugh John and Mary (nee MacMaster) MacGil­livray of Kirk Hill.

No doubt his ath­leti­cism be­gan to de­velop in his for­ma­tive years at Pine Grove School on the Lag­gan Road, but it was dur­ing his Alexan­dria High School years that Camp­bell’s rep­u­ta­tion as an ex­cep­tion­ally gifted all-round ath­lete in skill and in sports­man­ship emerged. Camp­bell seized op­por­tu­ni­ties to play as many sports as pos­si­ble and ex­celled in all that he played, no­tably, track and field, hockey, soc­cer and lacrosse. Amongst his high school friends and in the Glen­garry com­mu­nity, Camp­bell was af­fec­tion­ately known by the nick­name “Geeses.”

As a young man at­tend­ing AHS, Geeses’ ath­leti­cism was quickly rec­og­nized. The school’s track and field meet was held in the fall, and on these days Geeses dis­played his for­mi­da­ble abil­i­ties. In his grade 10 year of 1938, he fin­ished first in pole vault, high jump and the 880-yard run. He fin­ished sec­ond in the 220 and 440 and third in the 100-yard races. That year he ac­cu­mu­lated an over­all 25 points to win the Se­nior Boys Tro­phy. His clos­est com­peti­tor that day fin­ished with 19 points. Over his high school track and field ca­reer, Geeses was al­ways one of the top three fin­ish­ers in pole vault, shot put, high, broad and triple Jump, and in the 100, 220, 440, and 880-yard races. As a re­sult of his con­sis­tent top fin­ishes in all events that he en­tered, Geeses earned the dis­tinct hon­our of win­ning the Se­nior Men’s Track and Field tro­phy for four con­sec­u­tive years be­gin­ning in Grade 9 in 1937 through to Grade 12 in 1940. A sim­i­lar feat has never since been re­peated.

The win­ter months saw Geeses play for the Alexan­dria High School hockey team, play­ing ei­ther as cen­tre or on de­fence. In the early spring of 1941, the school hockey team won the Glen­garry-Prescott Cham­pi­onship Tro­phy in a league con­sist­ing of teams from Maxville, Van­kleek Hill, Hawkes­bury English and Hawkes­bury French schools. That sea­son, the Alexan­dria team went un­de­feated. Geeses served as team cap­tain and led the team in scor­ing, net­ting 25 goals in eight league games. In the semi­fi­nals AHS went on to win two games straight be­fore tak­ing on Hawkes­bury French in a three-game fi­nal for the league ti­tle. Hawkes­bury and Alexan­dria split the first two games so a third and de­cid­ing game was sched­uled for a Fri­day night. This fi­nal game is recorded as hav­ing been played dur­ing a heavy snow­fall. The teams agreed to play four 16-minute pe­ri­ods so that the snow could be shov­elled from the out­door sur­face be­tween pe­ri­ods. The fi­nal score on this snowy evening was 6-5 for Alexan­dria, with Geeses scor­ing five goals. Later, at a school sports ban­quet held at the Alexan­der Hall, Geeses was pre­sented the Pow­ers Tro­phy, rec­og­niz­ing the AHS team as league cham­pi­ons of the Prescott and Glen­garry In­ter­col­le­giate Hockey League.

While a student at AHS, Geeses’ ex­cep­tional hockey skills saw him re­cruited to play with the Car­di­nals, Alexan­dria’s en­try in the Glen­garry Ju­nior Hockey League in 1939. The sea­son opener was played in Mart­in­town, and Camp­bell scored three goals in the 8-1 win over the home team. Dur­ing that year he also played in the Corn­wall O.C.O.T Ju­ve­nile League as a mem­ber of the Alexan­dria Red Blacks hockey team.

Many years later, in 1968, former school and team­mates, Howie Mor­ris, pi­o­nship games. Geeses con­trib­uted in­valu­ably to this Pine Grove team win­ning four GSL league ti­tles, three GSL cham­pi­onships, and two Ottawa Val­ley Cham­pi­onships, all with an in­cred­i­ble 36-game un­de­feated streak. The nu­mer­ous men­tions of Geeses’ soc­cer prow­ess along­side his brother Dou­gal, and line­mate Don­ald MacSweyn, de­scribe their scor­ing abil­i­ties as a con­stant threat to any op­pos­ing team. More specif­i­cally, dur­ing the league play­off run in 1940, Geeses scored six of the team’s eight goals, enough to earn Pine Grove the cham­pi­onship. Ad­vanc­ing to the Ottawa Val­ley Cham­pi­onship, Pine Grove went on to de­feat the Ottawa League cham­pi­ons, the Ottawa Corinthi­ans.

Pine Grove outscored Ottawa 5-1, and Geeses again led his team in net­ting three. Not sur­pris­ingly, Geeses re­ceived the GSL top scorer award in the 1941 sea­son. The play­ers of the Pine Grove Foot­ball Club were in­ducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.

When not on the soc­cer field or the ice rink, MacGil­livray was re­cruited to play with the Alexan­dria lacrosse team when the team was short play­ers. In one game against Dal­housie, Alexan­dria won 8-5 and Camp­bell scored six.

Lo­cal his­to­rian Harold MacMil­lan re­calls a story told to him by Geeses’ brother, Dou­gal. It was a Sun­day af­ter­noon and the team was short of play­ers. The boys’ par­ents did not ap­prove of them play­ing sports on a Sun­day, but the late Dave Mark­son con­vinced the boys the need was great, so he told them to start walk­ing to­wards Lag­gan and he would drive from town and pick them up. The broth­ers played the game. All was well un­til

came out the fol­low­ing week and re­ported that one of the boys had scored. Dou­gal laughed when he told Harold that ei­ther his par­ents didn’t read the ar­ti­cle or they chose to ig­nore it, but noth­ing was ever men­tioned about that Sun­day game in the MacGil­livray house. Camp­bell played al­most any sport that he could. Dur­ing these years, he played base­ball for the Kirk Hill church team, where he played the po­si­tion of pitcher and once again led his team to win a lo­cal tour­na­ment. In a let­ter home to his par­ents, Geeses wrote that he was able to play base­ball in the RCAF for re­cre­ation.

Geeses’ sports ac­com­plish­ments end here and what could have be­come of his fu­ture as an elite am­a­teur or pro­fes­sional ath­lete can only be imag­ined.

Fol­low­ing high school, Camp­bell (Geeses) MacGil­livray en­listed in the Royal Cana­dian Air Force in July of 1942. He trained in Toronto and Goderich be­fore com­plet­ing his pilot’s course in Bran­don, Manitoba, where he “won his wings.”

Sgt. MacGil­livray went to Eng­land in the spring of 1943. He was the pilot of a Lan­caster bomber and flew his first mis­sion on De­cem­ber 1, 1943. His log jour­nal records eight mis­sions, six of which were over Ber­lin. His plane was shot down Jan­uary 21, 1944. In Oc­to­ber 2016, Geeses’ nephew Camp­bell and his daugh­ter Martha and niece Margie trav­elled to Ger­many. They vis­ited the site of their Un­cle Geeses MacGil­livray’s downed plane and his gravesite lo­cated in the Ber­lin Com­mon­wealth Ceme­tery, Char­lot­ten­burg, Ger­many. Nephew Camp­bell feels that his un­cle’s fi­nal rest­ing spot is most fit­ting con­sid­er­ing that he is in Char­lot­ten­burg, a name as­so­ci­ated with Glen­garry.

Most of Geeses’ school chums, team­mates and team sup­port­ers have passed on, but the sto­ries of Geeses' mo­ments on the ice or field dur­ing a par­tic­u­lar mo­ment in a game were fondly and reg­u­larly shared with fam­ily mem­bers. Geeses’ nephew, Camp­bell, is for­tu­nate to be one such per­son who keeps his late un­cle’s sports sto­ries and sto­ries of char­ac­ter alive. Kent MacSweyn re­calls his fa­ther Don­ald Dun­can MacSweyn prais­ing the ath­leti­cism of Geeses, “He was head and shoul­ders above ev­ery­body else, an all-round player on the soc­cer field.”

Anna Mar­garet (MacSweyn) Hay was a few years younger than Geeses, but she re­mem­bers his rep­u­ta­tion as a fine gen­tle­man, a su­per ath­lete and a good dancer. “Ev­ery­body knew Geeses and ev­ery­body liked him.” Be­yond the sport sto­ries, Camp­bell tells of the time the Levac broth­ers from Dalkeith, Claude and Rol­land, were head­ing home in the late hours af­ter a New Year’s Eve party in 1942. It was a very cold night and their car had stopped east of Lag­gan. Geeses, who had re­cently ar­rived home af­ter win­ning his wings, hap­pened to come along not long af­ter. Al­though both par­ties were not close friends, they knew of each other from within the lo­cal com­mu­nity. Geeses went back to his car, re­trieved a bot­tle of liquor, and in­sisted on toast­ing the New Year with the broth­ers be­fore the re­main­der of the bot­tle was poured into the gas tank. Once the gas line thawed, all par­ties made their way home. The next day, Geeses left for Eng­land. The war took its toll on young lives that had not achieved their po­ten­tial in so many ways and the loss of Pilot Of­fi­cer Camp­bell (Geeses) MacGil­livray is one such tragic ex­am­ple. In his short life be­fore go­ing to war he left a lasting and in­domitable im­pres­sion in Glen­garry sports lore. He will be in­ducted into the Glen­garry Sports Hall of Fame on Au­gust 21 in Wil­liamstown.

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TOP ATH­LETE: Geeses MacGil­livray ex­celled in many sports.

AMAZ­ING: Grif­fin and David Fitz­patrick cel­e­brate the CanAm Crunch’s vic­tory.

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