Collector’s Stories: David McLeod

This month we want to celebrate the significant contributions David McLeod has made to botanical studies in New Brunswick. The Connell Memorial Herbarium holds 823 specimens collected by David.

He is a superb botanist with an encyclopedic mind but that is not all. Since all things in the natural world fascinate him, he has an extensive collection of plant specimens, insects and arachnids and a truck-load of books on nature. He also is a very knowledgeable birder with a long list of “lifers”. David is an outstanding teacher and whenever one is on a field trip with him, you want to stand close to hear what he has to say.

David holds long-time memberships in many local and Canadian/US natural history organizations and clubs. He has been a member of the New Brunswick Botany Club since its inception in 1999.

Dave at the Dolan Woodlands Nature Preserve (NTNB). Photo Credit: Peter Gadd

David was born and raised in southwestern Ontario, to a family of natural history enthusiasts. His grandfather, J.R. McLeod was president of the McIlwraith Naturalists’ Club in the early 1920’s and his father, Robert McLeod, took him on many naturalist club outings.

He studied engineering and the sciences at the University of Western Ontario and graduated with a degree in Chemistry in 1967. In the following year, he received his Ontario Teacher’s Certificate from the London Teachers’ College. David taught school for seven years and as he became more interested in outdoor education, he left the formal classroom to join the YMCA’s Outdoor Centre as a co-ordinator of their educational programmes. For the next 20 years (1980- 1998) he worked as a biologist, botanist and ecological consultant for various governmental and non-governmental organisations. It should be noted that during his time working in Ontario, he also spent some summer months in the early 80’s botanizing around Alnwick Parish, Northumberland County, NB. In the Connell Memorial Herbarium there are over 250 specimens he collected during 1979 to 1982 in Alnwick Parish.

Dave at Spednic Lake. Photo Credit: Clay Merrithew

After retiring in the late 1990’s he moved from Ontario with his wife, Ena (McKnight) to New Jersey, New Brunswick and took up residence in the McKnight homestead. At this time he became an assistant to Hal Hinds, Botany instructor and curator of the UNB Herbarium, to work on the revision for the 2nd edition of the “Flora of New Brunswick”. He checked for current taxonomic and nomenclatural changes to scientific names, reformulating identification keys and proof-reading the text. Since then and to the present day, David has continued to work on botanical surveys and inventories for many local Miramichi organisations. In particular, he worked with Clay Merrithew (current volunteer with the herbarium) compiling botanical inventories in the French Fort Cove Nature Park for the City of Miramichi and on Beaubear’s Island for Parks Canada. More than 500 plant specimens from these surveys are in the Herbarium, and they can be found online in our database. Thank you David!

“ I spent three floristic seasons doing field work with Dave. He is a meticulous botanist with an all-encompassing knowledge of vascular plants. Despite the impediment of right-side weakness caused by a stroke, Dave had the iron will to spend long hours examining and collecting specimens in the field day after day.”

Clay Merrithew
Dave at French Fort Cove. Photo Credit: Clay Merrithew

Text: Clay Merrithew and Susan Belfry. Photos: Peter Gadd, Clay Merrithew.