Sandy Auld Mactaggart

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Sandy Auld Mactaggart March 11, 1928 - July 3, 2017

Born Glasgow, Scotland March 11, 1928. Died Islay, Scotland, July 3, 2017.

Son of Sir John Mactaggart, 2nd Baronet of King's Park, Glasgow, husband of Cécile Erickson Mactaggart for 57 years, father of Mara, Fiona and Alastair, grandfather to seven grandchildren.

Evacuated to Canada at the beginning of World War II at the age of 11, he attended Lakefield College School in Ontario and acquired Canadian citizenship before subsequently attending, Harvard College (1950) and Harvard Business School (1952).

At business school he met his lifelong business partner and great friend, Jean de La Bruyère: following graduation, the two moved to Edmonton, Alberta and founded Maclab Enterprises.

Maclab went on to become a leading land developer in the 1950s to early 1980s, building housing and commercial properties from Medicine Hat to Yellowknife and from British Columbia to Saskatchewan.

Sandy was a force for civic good in his adopted hometown, serving as a founding trustee for the Citadel Theatre, Tempo School, the Boys and Girls Club, the Edmonton Art Gallery, and as a supporter of countless other endeavors.

An enthusiastic adventurer, he served as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service Reserve, and remained a flying enthusiast his entire life. He also piloted hot air balloons, auto raced in the Can Am circuit, and was an accomplished sailor.

Between 1975 and 1977, he suspended business activities to fulfill a lifelong dream of taking his family sailing to remote destinations in the South Pacific, where Sandy was as happy as he had ever been.

On his return, greeted by the severe recession gripping Alberta in the early 1980s, Sandy ceased new real estate development and devoted his life to higher education. He served on the boards of the University of Alberta, the American University of Beirut, and as a vice president of the Harvard Alumni Association. In 1990 he was appointed Chancellor of the University of Alberta, and following his term there was appointed interim Chair of the Board of Governors.

Sandy and his wife Cécile shared a lifelong fascination with and were avid collectors of Chinese Imperial art. In 2005 they donated part of their collection to the University of Alberta, thereby enabling the University to found the University of Alberta China Institute. He also donated the Mactaggart Nature Sanctuary, a 257-acre parcel within the city of Edmonton, to the University of Alberta and the City of Edmonton.

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1997, and a member of the Alberta Order of Excellence in 1998. In later years he served as Honorary Colonel of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, a position he enjoyed greatly.

Many and impressive as these honors and accomplishments are, the best parts of Sandy Mactaggart were his kind soul and humble nature. He always felt he stood on the shoulders of his ancestors, and never took sole credit for his successes, ascribing much of them to luck of birth and luck at being in the right place at the right time. He believed in giving back to the communities he lived in, and in the importance of always doing the right thing.

He was a profoundly decent and generous man.

Published in The Edmonton Journal from July 5 to July 7, 2017
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