On July 26, 2020, Doris MacDonald, 98, one of the last two remaining World War Two Veterans from New Waterford, passed away peacefully in New Waterford Hospital. Born Doris Thomas, in North London, England, on June 25, 1922, to the late William and Victoria Thomas, Doris first came to Canada as a young war bride in 1946. Having been a dance instructor in London in her teenage years, Doris decided, a month after her arrival in Canada, to start a school of dance for the children of New Waterford, which was such a resounding success that, within five years, she had opened branches in Glace Bay, Sydney, and the Northside. For six days a week, over an incredible 66 years, Doris taught dance to three generations of Cape Breton children. In addition, she and her husband Allan, who was also her business partner, also taught Ballroom Dancing one night a week, in response to requests from many people, who had watched the tall, lithe couple glide over the dance floors of many Columbian Balls in New Waterford, in the post-war years. In 2008, Doris was inducted into the Cape Breton Business Hall of Fame, where they said:'MacDonald has spawned a whole cultural industry on this island, and in the process has fostered the self-worth and success of literally tens of thousands of Cape Breton children, through dance". Virtually ALL of the dance schools today in Nova Scotia can boast at least one connection to the former Doris MacDonald Dance Academy (Now known as D&R Dance). Also, in 2017, Doris was inducted into the New Waterford & District Sports Heritage Hall of Fame, as a Builder.
Doris' entire span of teenage years was spent growing up through Hitler's Blitz of London, where she was subjected to extreme rationing of most goods, and, she had to spend every night in complete darkness! By the time she was 19, she was enlisted in the Royal Air Force, as an Instrument Technician. It was in the military that she met a tall handsome Canadian soldier, Allan MacDonald, and they were married in London in January of 1946, before he went back to Canada. Their love affair spanned 60 years, until his death in 2006. Together with other WWII Vets, Doris and Allan made it their mission to ensure that future generations would understand the sacrifices made by all the veterans, and the horrors that war could cause. In addition to her strict dance schedule, they often visited schools over the years, to speak to young students, and Doris would very often take her dancers to the local nursing homes, to entertain the veterans there, as well as all others.
Having no children of her own, Doris formed a close relationship with Allan's nephew, Johnny MacDonald, who helped her immensely after Allan's death in 2006. She always agreed wholeheartedly when asked: "Where would you be without Johnny?" She certainly appreciated his role in helping her to stay in her and Allan's home, the only place they had ever lived together in Canada. She also appreciated that he helped put her "girls', her caregivers, in her home for the past three years, so that she could remain there. She loved them all.
Besides her parents, Doris was predeceased by her brother Billy, in England. She is survived by a half-brother, Paul Falconer, and his wife June, In England, as well as their children, Marcus, Richard, and Heidi. Paul called her pretty much every Sunday, and she looked forward to those calls immensely. She is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews on Allan's side of the family, and she loved them all greatly. They were her extended family, and they attended every momentous occasion in her life, as well as including her in all family functions, for which she was always grateful. Doris is also survived by her and Allan's cat, Bootsie, (of an indeterminate age), whom she loved dearly as well.
Doris also cherished her involvement with the Cape Breton War Brides, who met for supper every Tuesday over many years, until their numbers diminshed. Together, they shared their memories of their beloved London. Doris very often said "We Brits are tough", and indeed she was. Doris and Allan's participation in the local legion, Branch 15, was legendary, and they worked very hard over the years to build up that organization. She was immensely proud when, after his death, it was renamed the Allan MacDonald Memorial Legion, Branch 15.
Doris belonged to a unique generation, the likes of which may never be seen again. They virtually carried the torch of freedom for the entire world!
"Take up our quarrel with the foe,
To you from failing hands we throw
the torch; Be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep!
Though poppies grow in Flanders Fields."
There will be no visitation. A graveside service will take place Thursday, July 30 at 11 a.m. in St. Michael's Cemetery, River Ryan, with Rev. Myrna MacMullin officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Allan MacDonald Memorial Legion, Branch 15, New Waterford. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to V.J. McGillivray Funeral Home, New Waterford. Online expressions of sympathy may be sent to the family at: www.vjmcgillivray.ca.