Dean McLeod - 2021 Lester B. Pearson Award Recipient

(Written by Rad Joseph - MSL)

The recipient of the Canadian Lacrosse Association’s 2021 Lester B. Pearson Award is Dean McLeod.  This annual award is presented to a member of the Canadian lacrosse community in recognition ofoutstanding contributions of sportsmanship and leadership in the game of lacrosse and to the physical and mental development of young Canadians through unselfish dedication as a volunteer.

Dean McLeod’s devotion, work ethic, focus and commitment to Ontario Junior “A” lacrosse and to lacrosse in his home town of Brampton have been exemplary. It should be no surprise he has been awarded the Lester Pearson Award.  If anything, it could be viewed as somewhat puzzling it took so long for him to be given this recognition.

Asked his initial response to hearing about being named the Pearson Award recipient, Mr. McLeod stated, “When Terry Rowland (CLA Director of Marketing) telephoned me and told me I had been selected the 2021 recipient of the CLA’s Lester B. Pearson Award - along with it comes Life Membership in the Canadian Lacrosse Association - I was completely dumbfounded! What an unsuspected honour to have my name now sit alongside all of the great past winners of this award. There is only one person a year bestowed this honour and I am truly honoured”.

In sharing specific memories from over the decades, Dean McLeod noted “My 37-year run as Ontario Junior “A” Lacrosse Commissioner and all of the great personalities that I dealt and worked with over the years, not only from Ontario but across Canada and Internationally are paramount among my memories. The second most lasting memory is the 8 Mann Cup Championships I have managed or have been a part of in Brampton.  I am and have always being a proud Brampton Excelsior” 

Mr. McLeod was quick to acknowledge other lacrosse builders who were an important part of his lacrosse life and the contributions he made to lacrosse – “I immediately think of names like; Lee Vitarelli, Cap Bomberry, the late Jack Wilson, the late Bob Bartlett, Stan Cockerton, Chuck Miller, Murry Lehman (BC), the late Sohen Gill (BC), Greg Lintz (Alberta), Lisa Grant (Alberta), Bill Hutton, Bob Clevely, the late Brian Allen, Bob Hanna, Alan Fredrickson (Australia). The list can and should, go on and on. For those I have missed, I apologize”. 

For final thoughts and feelings, Dean McLeod offered heartfelt personal thoughts – “My lacrosse involvement, over the past 55 years, has  been very, very satisfying and I have always had the support of my wife Mary and our children Deanna and Stewart. Of all of the recognitions I have received until now the receipt of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal is my most cherished possession. This award now stands right with it and I would like to thank the CLA committee who made my selection. This is so very much appreciated”.

Dean McLeod – Lacrosse Biography

Born in Brampton, Ontario in 1945 Dean McLeod has been involved in lacrosse at virtually every position possible in lacrosse (See Appendix 1).  However, in 1982, Dean McLeod took on a role in lacrosse that would benefit the entire Ontario lacrosse universe when he became Commissioner of the Ontario Lacrosse Association Junior “A” League – a position he would hold for over three and a half decades. At the end of the 2018 Ontario lacrosse season, Dean McLeod, Commissioner of the Ontario Junior “A” Lacrosse League officially announced his retirement ending a 37-year reign as the Commissioner.

Dean McLeod was the face of the Ontario Lacrosse Association Junior “A” League for almost four decades.  He had the knowledge, passion and insight to represent Ontario and Canadian lacrosse at the local, provincial, national and International levels in both a professional and unbiased manner – knowing at times, for the best interest of lacrosse, he had to put aside his own personal agenda.

Among his major contributions to Ontario Junior "A" lacrosse was the development of a Junior "A" Policy Paper, Minto Cup agreement and most importantly making Junior "A" lacrosse a better place for players to play. This was accomplished under the leadership by Mr. McLeod and the efforts of the Ontario Lacrosse Association Junior “A” Board of Governors.

Dean McLeod is known for his ability to rule with a fair and clear mind in a totally unbiased manner. He had a personal code of conduct of “Be Fair”.  A clear example would pertain to administering player discipline.  Mr. McLeod did not relish suspending players.  He would listen to all the parties involved before handing down a suspension.  If the player had not faced suspension previously and it was a first offence, Mr. McLeod would endeavour to give the player a break.  It proved to work effectively as rarely did a player appear in front of Mr. McLeod a second time.

When Dean McLeod took over the role of Commissioner in 1982, Ontario Junior “A” lacrosse was in a general state of “everyone was out for his own team.”  There was no unity as a league.  Under Mr. McLeod’s tutelage the mindset of the Junior “A” Board of Governors evolved to work for the betterment of the league. 

There has been a gradual ascension to the close competitiveness of the league. The introduction of the Entry Draft brought a great level of balance to the league. (Now, it is not uncommon to see a lower seeded team in the playoffs eliminate a higher ranked team). During the 37 years, Dean McLeod led the Ontario Junior “A” lacrosse league, the eventual Ontario champion team won 28 out of 37 Minto Cup championships.

As an aside, along with his role serving the Ontario lacrosse community -- Dean McLeod has also been heavily committed within the Brampton lacrosse community. He has held countless roles at the Minor, Junior and Senior levels of Brampton lacrosse. While holding various positions over many years with the Brampton Excelsiors Senior Lacrosse club, Mr. McLeod was an integral part of eight Mann Cup championships".

While in his role as the Commissioner, Dean McLeod’s involvement with the Ontario Lacrosse and Canadian Lacrosse communities, earned him numerous awards and accolades for his dedication to the game (see Appendix 2).

Mr. McLeod has been a mentor to many others in the lacrosse world. If you have had the opportunity to meet Dean McLeod, you will likely remember it. Dean McLeod is a strong willed, driven and exceptionally fair-minded person who leaves no question to his opinion on any subject being discussed.  He has done so much for the development and progress of the OLA Junior “A” Lacrosse League.  When Mr. McLeod retired as the Commissioner of Junior “A” lacrosse, Mr. Stan Cockerton (the Executive Director of the Ontario Lacrosse Association) stated,  “Dean has contributed 37 years of experience to the Ontario Junior “A” Lacrosse League and over 55 years to the Ontario Lacrosse Association and his achievements will leave a lasting legacy on our sport.  He has held leadership roles across a broad range of our sport, and his devotion, work ethic and focus to Ontario Lacrosse have been exemplary. Dean has been a mentor to many and his influence has left an indelible impact on generations of players, coaches and volunteers.”

When Dean McLeod took upon the role of Commissioner of the OLA Junior “A” League – his personal objective was to make Junior “A” lacrosse in Ontario the best place for young athletes to play. He has been successful in doing so.

With over 50 years of commitment and devotion to lacrosse in Ontario and across Canada, the achievements of Mr. McLeod have left a legacy for lacrosse.

Appendix 1 - Time Line of Dean McLeod’s Commitment to Lacrosse

2021 – Appointed to the Ontario Junior “A” Lacrosse Advisory Board. This executive committee provides counsel on lacrosse related matters and the league’s return to play plan

2021 – Appointed Official Historian for Ontario Junior “A” Lacrosse League

2018 – Received the “Bruce Wanless Award as the Brampton Excelsior Ambassador of the Year

2007 -2018 - Ontario Lacrosse Life Membership Committee Chairperson

2004 -2018 - Ontario Lacrosse Association Audit Committee Member

2004 - ongoing Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame Eastern Selection Committee Member

1992 – 1993 - Brampton Excelsiors Major Series Lacrosse General Manager

1989 – 2018 - Canadian Lacrosse Association Box Sector Committee Member

1988 - Canadian U-19 Field Lacrosse National Team General Manager

1985 – 1997 - Brampton Excelsiors MLA - Board of Directors Member

1985 - 1986 - Canadian Lacrosse Association Vice President

1982 – 2018 - Ontario Junior "A" Lacrosse League Commissioner

1979 – 1981 - Brampton Excelsiors Major Series Lacrosse General Manager

1968 – 2018 - Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club Board of Directors Member

1967- 1998 - Brampton Excelsiors Junior "A" General Manager

1968 – Brampton Junior “B” General Manager

1967 - Brampton Excelsiors Junior "B" Statistician

Appendix 2 - Summary of Individual Awards: Dean McLeod

2021 – Recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Award

2017 – Awarded OLA – Golden Stick Award (50 years of Service)

2012 – Awarded Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – Diamond Jubilee Award

2000 – Inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame – Lacrosse Builder

1998 – Inducted into the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame – Lacrosse Builder

1998 – Designated Ontario Lacrosse Association Life Membership

1997 - Inducted into the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame (Lacrosse Builder)

1997 – OLA Junior “A” Board of Governors decided to name the OLA Junior “A” Most Valuable Player in the Playoffs as the “Dean McLeod Award”

1991 - Canadian Lacrosse Association Presidents Award

1990 - Ontario Lacrosse Association: President's Award (20 Years of Service)

1989 - Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club: Life Membership

1985 - Ontario Lacrosse Association: Mr. Lacrosse Award

Mann Cup Canadian Championships: 1980, 1992, 1993, 1998, 2002, 2008, 2009, 2011.

Footnote: In 1959-60 Dean McLeod played on the Town of Brampton (population 15,000) Bantam hockey team, winning the OMHA Bantam “A” minor championship – the first time for a Brampton based team.  Their season end record was 61 wins, 0 losses and 2 ties.  Of note, despite the accolades of championships and awards, Mr. McLeod has accumulated over his lifetime, he considers this accomplishment as the most memorable of all of his many championships.

Past winners of the Lester B. Pearson Award

2020 -Rusty Doxtader

2019 -Cheryl MacNeill

2018 -Dave Huntley

2017 -Joey Harris

2015 -Terry Lloyd

2014 -Mike 'Kanentakeron' Mitchell

2013 -Don Blacklock

2011 -Stan Cockerton

2010 -John Herd

2008 -Stew Begg

2007 -Sohen Gill

2006 -Jim Burke

2005 -Chuck Miller

2004 -Jim Price

2002 -Joanne Stanga

2001 -Bill McBain

1983 -Joan Gostling

1981 -William Hutton

1980 -Ed Linstead

1979 -Frank Huntley

1978 -Jack Fulton

1977 -Jim Bishop

1975 -Ken Newton

1973 -Morley Kells