Memorable Manitobans: Alexander James “Sandy” Macaulay (1945-2003)
Born at Edmonton, Alberta on 25 June 1945, he spent his childhood exploring the fields, woods, and ponds around his home. This fostered a profound, life-long love of nature. After completing an undergraduate degree in zoology at the University of Alberta in 1966, he then completed a graduate degree in zoology and anthropology at the same institution. Moving to Manitoba in 1969, he wrote a doctoral dissertation at the University of Manitoba, under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer Shay, on the ecology of bulrushes.
Following completion of his doctoral research, Sandy was employed by Ducks Unlimited Canada. Over the course of 13 years, he held positions of Provincial Biologist for Saskatchewan, Special Projects Biologist and, from 1976 to 1987, Chief Biologist for Canada. Sandy believed strongly in the importance of natural resource stewardship. He was instrumental in moving Ducks Unlimited Canada from a company focussed largely on construction and engineering to one based on biological principles. He expanded the concept that sound scientific knowledge should be the foundation of habitat management projects, and he urged the adoption of benefit/cost analyses as a basis for setting wetland project priorities. The company grew three-fold during his leadership and, in his final year there, he was an architect of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, which continues to serve and promote the interests of wetland habitat and wildlife continent-wide.
Building on his expertise in wildlife and habitat management, Sandy worked as coordinator of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan with the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture in Winnipeg. He became an early advocate for the use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) by the natural resource, utility, agriculture, and local government sectors. His company, Resources For Tomorrow, that he founded in 1993, specialized in GPS training and consulting. Many people benefited from Sandy’s reputation as the “kind uncle” of GPS in Manitoba. He established the first commercial GPS reference stations in the province, used by forestry companies, engineering consultants, highways and natural resource departments, and universities. His topographic mapping service fostered the adoption of precision farming practices, and helped to improve sheet water drainage from agricultural fields.
An enthusiastic conversationalist who was equally at ease meeting with farmers and corporate CEOs, Sandy was first and foremost a naturalist. Nothing could interrupt a chat with Sandy so quickly as a bird calling nearby or a wildlife sighting. He enjoyed hunting and fishing and, in earlier years, falconry and cross-country skiing, but his greatest sporting passion was reserved for tennis, mostly for the exercise and camaraderie that it provided. Sandy will be remembered for his love of family and people generally, and his genuine hospitality and generosity. Enjoying a wide circle of business contacts and acquaintances, Sandy was an eternal optimist, a “cheerful giver,” and a trusted and faithful friend.
He moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 2000 where he was a technology manager for a large international consulting firm. Following a brief bout with lung cancer, he died there on 22 February 2003.
We thank Catari Macaulay Gauthier, daughter of Sandy Macaulay, for providing information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 5 December 2015