Ron MacKinnon divides his time between the boards and the birds.
This Monton native retired from CN railway in 1996 after a railroad career that included coach cleaner, brakeman, yard foreman, conductor, and finally, yard master.
Following retirement he was in the "apartment business for awhile."
About 11 years ago he got into acting introduced to local theater by a friend, he agreed to help out with a script reading and was offered the part. Most years see him on stage withe Lutes Mountain Heritage Players, and he enjoys that experience.
He also enjoys raising homing pigeons, a hobby he's been involved in for many years - returning with renewed enthusiasm to the pastime once his granddaughter, Kamecha, became interested.
"My pigeons are Belgium, bloodline and they're rock doves. That's what their formal name would be, but everybody calls them pigeons - and pigeons are not native to North America. Anything you see is a feral that got away on someone"
MacKinnon does white dove (pigeon) releases at weddings, funerals, Remembrance Day ceremonies, the Sussex Balloon festival, and more, and the (banded) birds quickly fly back to his Lutes Mountain home. He says nobody really understands why the pigeons return with such accuracy, although MacKinnon's theory is that they become "magnetized to home."They also have to be trained.
"You've got to get them young: stresses MacKinnon, änd then you have to have a loft for them outside, with access... There is a trapping mechanism, so I can let them out and they can free fly, then they come in and trap and then they can't get back out...Right now my birds are out flying around."
Also called carrier or messenger pigeons, these birds were used to great advantage on the front line of both world wars. MacKinnon's grandfather Arnie MacKinnon , fought in the First World War and his father Murray MacKinnon was a member of the Second world War's special forces the Devil's Bragade, and both saw pigeons used in this way. In fact, There is a Victoria Cross equivalent for animals, the Dicken Medal, that has been bestowed upon pigeons 32 times for outstanding wartime service.
MacKinnon now has fifteen pigeons, down from last year's 40 because " over the the winter, weasels got in and killed all my flock."
Other hobbies include playing the guitar and singing, vegetable gardening, hunting and fishing.
MacKinnon and his wife Petrechia (half of the famous musical Gaynor twins) have three grown children Darren, Shannon, and Tammy and two granddaughters (make it three now on came along without my permission just recently I might add.)
Endearingly unique and enjoying every minute of it. MacKinnon once went barefoot for an entire year, during which time he observed that "salt really hurts your feet in the winter."
When it comes to observations about life, he has three favourites "Grandmothers and grandfathers should never retire they should live to inspire; Love is a verb, not a noun;"and "we do not live in a perfect world - live for something or you are dying for nothing."