Dec 12, 2023
Canada was lucky to have a visionary businessman and big-hearted humanitarian adopt our country and accomplish so much here. in the past few days after his sad passing on November 24, you’ve read a lot about George – his founding of McDonalds, his establishing the brand in Russia and his long dedication to charitable work especially Ronald McDonald house. Born in Chicago, he chose Canada and flew the Canadian maple leaf even when boating in Florida.
It was my particular pleasure to meet George as a boater. His Hinckley 48 Talaria stood out as a much admired powerboat in a mostly sail environment at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club. George was much appreciated at the club not only because he was a very charming member but also for his generous contributions to sailing endeavours. his sponsorship of the annual Paddlethon, which earned thousands for Ronald McDonald House gave RCYC families a chance to put on zany costumes and splash around the island aboard dinghies and water toys.
When he agreed to do the story, I was very excited. Meeting him that day onboard McHappy III I was struck by what a warm, down-to-earth, funny and welcoming person he was. I don’t think I had even met a Companion of the Order of Canada previously, but the contrast between that loftiest of titles and the unpretentious guy at the throttle of the boat he loved caught me somewhat by surprise. I came away from the assignment with affection and incredible respect for him.
At his funeral, the sentiments didn’t need to be gushy. Every single relative and friend who honoured George saw him as caring, family-loving gentleman who was proud, of course, but unaffected by his stunning achievements.