Sally Drury McDougall: Building Community Within McGill and Montreal

2013-2014 Issue 1



Sally Drury McDougall, recipient of an honorary doctorate at this Spring’s Continuing Studies Convocation, has always been a big believer in lifelong learning. “If you’re active – in my case, mainly as a volunteer – you’re learning and absorbing the world the whole time. For me, lifelong learning has meant living life fully and opening every door.”

While McDougall shuns the spotlight, it seems to find her anyway. This is not the first time she’s been recognized for her unstinting efforts on McGill’s behalf: the McGill Alumni Association presented her with the Award of Merit, its highest honour, in 2007, and previously, in 1997, a Distinguished Service Award.

Interviewed from her garden in the Townships, she looks back over a lifetime association with the university. She grew up in Montreal, part of a “McGill family” – her father, star athlete Chip Drury, two of her siblings, her husband, Douglass McDougall, all four of their sons and two daughters-in-law have earned degrees from McGill (no doubt several of her eight grandchildren will follow suit).

After earning a science degree from McGill, she headed to the Mac campus for a diploma in education. She taught for several years before “the children came fast and furious. I volunteered at my four sons’ schools, using the skills I’d acquired along the way.” She’s proud of having raised “happy children – all out in the world, and all within driving distance!”

“Volunteering is a life choice, and a great way to go out into the world. You ask, ‘What can I do to help?’ We have a tendency to think we should tell people how to do things, but a true volunteer pitches in and does whatever is needed.”

McDougall recalls volunteering with the Montreal Diet Dispensary, foraging for food to give to needy expectant mothers. “I’d fill the back of my car with discarded food from restaurants – yogurt, cheese, things with a short shelf life. Once a truck full of cabbages tipped over on the Met. I loaded up and drove them to the Diet Dispensary.”

Volunteering for McGill has been a consistent thread in her life. She served as President of the MAA from 2000 to 2002 and in various other positions with the Association over the years, and has sat on many Board and Senate committees and advisory committees for senior McGill appointments. She is currently a trustee of the Martlet Foundation. “McGill sort of sucks you in, in a good way,” she says.

McDougall is also a keen gardener, skier and golfer. “My other passion is working with adaptive sports, especially skiing.” She shows no signs of slowing down. The Convocation Program citation summed it up well: “[Sally Drury McDougall’s] wise counsel, tireless advocacy and grounded approaches, over more than 40 years of involvement with McGill, have truly made a significant difference to our people, especially our students.”

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