Tribute paid to Scotty MacLaren, Campbell River’s Santa Claus

Besides playing Old St. Nick, community mover and shaker raised millions for charities

David Armitt “Scotty” MacLaren, Nov. 6, 1938 – March 4, 2019.

“Campbell River lost a Santa Claus,” Mayor Andy Adams said at Monday’s city council meeting.

The mayor was referring to the passing, on March 4, of Scotty MacLaren a person active in many community causes since his arrival in Campbell River from his native Scotland 46 years ago. MacLaren was a force in the community driving many community campaigns that raised millions dollars.

“Scotty MacLaren passed away and there was a tremendous turnout for a service at St. Patrick’s on Saturday,” the mayor said. “He will sorely be missed.”

In recent years, he played Santa Claus for the downtown BIA’s annual Truck Light Parade that kicked off the Christmas season for the community. He also donned the red suit for more personal and intimate appearances for individuals at the Campbell River hospital and elsewhere. It was a role he clearly loved.

A celebration of MacLaren’s life was held on Saturday, March 23 at St. Patrick’s Parish which was attended by the mayor, city councillors and many friends, family and admirers.

MacLaren was born in Aberfeldy, Scotland on Nov. 6, 1938. When he was 15, he joined the Royal Navy and in 1959 joined the 3rd Carabiniers, part of the 254th Indian Tank Brigade of the British Army. He saw service in Cyprus, Aden and Iraq. During his service, he drove a Centurion MK3 battle tank and was lead tank driver for his squadron. He was honorably discharged in 1963.

In 1967, MacLaren immigrated to Canada, landing in Calgary, Alberta where he met his wife to be, Sheran Francis Alain. The couple married in 1970 and later moved to Campbell River where they raised their family, living in the same house for the remainder of their lives. Sheran passed away Nov. 27, 2017.

For 46 years, MacLaren dedicated himself to community service, raising funds for many charities. He raised millions of dollars for charities including the United Way, BC Special Olympics, BC Cancer, Society, the Campbell River Community Foundation and Campbell River Search and Rescue.

“He will be sorely missed,” Mayor Adams said.

Coun. Charlie Cornfield also paid tribute to MacLaren, pointing out he also served as a city councillor in the 1980s.

“Scotty did an awful lot for our community,” Cornfield said.

MacLaren was tenacious when he took on a charitable role, Cornfield pointed out.

“It was easier to give him stuff than it was to say no because he kept coming back until you said yes,” Cornfield said. “But he did it for all the right reasons for our community.”

MacLaren leaves behind four children, five grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

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Scotty MacLaren celebrates a jump successfully executed with a wee sip while Rob MacNeill gets him out of his parachute. MacLaren was parachuting July 8, 2018 at age 79 to raise money for Campbell River Search and Rescue. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror