Popular Cape Breton priest, Father Greg MacLeod, dies at 81

Father Greg MacLeod, a well-known Cape Breton priest, community activist and educator known simply as Father Greg, has died. He was 81.

MacLeod, who died Wednesday after a lengthy illness, was ordained to the priesthood in 1961, serving in various parishes before moving onto Xavier College.

He became a professor of philosophy at the College of Cape Breton in 1974, which eventually turned into Cape Breton University.

MacLeod later became one of the founders of community economic development organization New Dawn Enterprises and BCA Group (Banking Community Assets) in 1989.

'His heart and soul was for Cape Breton'

Chief Terry Paul of the Membertou First Nation said Father Greg will be missed.

"Father Greg was a very instrumental person for Cape Breton. His heart and soul was for Cape Breton," said Paul.

"To me, he was my mentor. I've always read his articles and I've met with him quite often. He was a staunch supporter of Cape Breton University."

Adrian White, executive director of the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce, said MacLeod was a driving force in local economic development.

'He stirred the pot here'

"It was good that he stirred the pot here. That's what we needed here — to be a little bit more thinking outside of the box," said White.

"That's what Greg brought out in a lot of people in the community. He initiated leadership on his own but he also created leaders in the community, as well."

White said MacLeod's accomplishments in helping create New Dawn and BCA are significant.

"These are two huge organizations. New Dawn and BCA are names that most Cape Bretoners know and understand today. It's an amazing career, an amazing approach that he had taken," he said.

"But his heart was always in the future of Cape Breton's best interest."

A close personal friend

Harvey Johnstone, professor emeritus of philosophy at Cape Breton University, said MacLeod was a close personal friend.

"He was someone who recognized that if we put a lot of effort into things, we could accomplish a lot," he said.

"He was such a clever individual who was better at finding ways to move forward than most of us are able to."

Funeral arrangements for MacLeod have not yet been arranged.