Who was Patrick McNally and where did the money come from?

By Pepper Parr

May 6th, 2022



Burlington has been given a gift of more than $1 million that will be spent on improving, adding to and upgrading parks in the city.

This grant is not the first the city has received from the Patrick J. McNally Foundation.

So who was Patrick McNally and where did the money come from?

Patrick Jessett McNally

Born in 1915 in Hamilton, Patrick was the benefactor of a small legacy that enabled him to attend Queen’s University where he studied mining engineering.

add in from the obit

Pat lived by the theme that anything is possible if you are lucky enough to have family to support you and education to guide you.

He was lucky himself: an ancestor left a small legacy that sent him to Queens’ University in the depth of the great depression . As a mining engineer, and drawing on his family’s background as home builders, he had a highly successful professional life, first in the hard rock mines of Northern Ontario, then in general construction in Montreal and the Maritimes, and ultimately as partner and chief engineer of S. McNally & Sons with his brothers.

He was a pioneering contractor who helped build the infrastructure of Southern Ontario, especially below ground, where his innovative mining techniques created the region’s most prominent tunnelling contractor.

Astute investment by the Foundation has resulted in benefits for both Hamilton, Waterdown and Burlington.

Pat retired in 1979 and spent the balance of his life as a successful investor, incessant benefactor to young people, and supporter of community needs. He was broadly generous but responded especially well to young people whose goals might pay back: business startups, growing families, and higher education were recurrent themes. He paid tuition for many young people and helped young families afford their first homes.

He was in various ways indispensable in the startups of Clappison Veterinary, C&M McNally Engineering, McNally Robinson Booksellers, QNX Software Systems and McNally Jackson Booksellers.

He was a long-time benefactor and volunteer with The Royal Botanical Gardens, Queen’s University, the Bruce Trail Conservancy and the Rotary Club. In 2015 he set up a foundation to provide recreation for families, starting with a new skating oval in Memorial Park in Waterdown.

Patrick McNally lived to the age of 101

Patrick married Anne Elizabeth (Libby) Powell in Montreal and together they raised four sons and a daughter. He was predeceased by Libby, by his second wife, Stewart Cranston, and by his six siblings.

He is remembered by sons John, Michael, , Paul, Christopher and daughter Joyce; 19 grandchildren and 22 great grandchildren.


Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2 comments to Who was Patrick McNally and where did the money come from?

  • Mozelle Cole

    Thank you Pepper for this touching and informative piece of history. There is so much kindness around us. RIP Mr. McNally and thank you for your generosity.

  • Thanks for this Pepper, Anne tried to find this out when preparing her delegation but was too short on time. Here’s to your well informed shout out for a great family who obviously care about their communities. We certainly will never forget the name Patrick J. McNally and the motivation by someone else’s kindness to him to return the kindness x exponentially impossible to calculate. What a great example to us all.