Congratulations to Rory McDonell on his graduation from the University of Glasgow with an International Masters of Security Intelligence and Strategic Studies. Rory graduated from the University of Guelph with a double major in History and English Literature. The St. Andrew’s Society of Toronto was pleased to provide him with a bursary to help continue his studies. 

Rory grew up in a family that cherished its Scottish connections. His ancestral ties can be linked back to John Macdonell, who was born in Greenfield, Scotland in 1785 before immigrating to Upper Canada as a child. Macdonell would go on to become a lawyer in York (modern-day Toronto) and serve as attorney general. Known for his fiery temper, John Macdonell was involved in one of the last pistol duels in the city’s history when he accepted a challenge from William Baldwin. Macdonell allowed Baldwin to take a shot at him but acknowledged his fault in the argument by refusing to return fire.

John Macdonell served in the militia and held the rank of lieutenant colonel during the War of 1812. He served as aide-de-camp to Sir Isaac Brock and assumed leadership at the Battle of Queenston Heights after Brock fell. While leading an attack against the American invaders, Macdonell was struck by musket fire and trampled by his horse. He died the next day with his last words lamenting the loss of Brock. Both men have been recognized for their ultimate sacrifice with monuments at the Battle site.

Rory inherited the combative nature of John Macdonell and channeled it into a successful career in martial arts. He earned recognition as both a coach and competitor before deciding to resume his studies. Along with his athletic accomplishments, Rory has a deep passion for music. He began playing the bagpipes at age 12 and went on to become a North American Champion and a World Silver medalist as part of the MacDonald Caledonia Pipe Band.

Rory shared some excellent social content with the Society while studying abroad. This included a Zoom talk he hosted on the Legacy of Highland Culture. The session focused on the role of bagpipes and Highlanders in the British military. He also provided the Society with piping videos from around Scotland including this version of the Skye Boat Song from the Isle of Skye

Scotland was only one part of Rory’s studies abroad. He also spent time in Dublin and Prague while completing his degree. We are pleased to say that his hard work has been rewarded with a job offer from the federal government. He will start this new role in January after relocating to Ottawa. Please join the Society in recognizing Rory on his accomplishments and his dedication to keeping his family’s Scottish connections alive. Best wishes for your bright future!