Duncan McLaren PROBUS bio May 2018
My story begins in Smiths Falls where I was born, followed by a misspent youth in Ottawa and upon graduating high school moved to Toronto. I chose to attend Ryerson from which I graduated three years later with a diploma in one hand and a spouse and young son in the other. Within three more years another son and a daughter joined the clan.
I was very fortunate to be hired on by F.H. Brigdens, a Toronto company with an established in-house printing, art studio and photo studio. It was here that I learned the craft of sales and customer service which would be the basis for my entire working life.
After 6 years it became clear I needed to move on to a much stronger competitor, Gaylord Planned Promotions. I stayed at Gaylord for 12 years becoming their top sales person and ultimately managing the Promotional Marketing division of the company.
In 1989 I chose to set up my own marketing and promotion agency, McLaren Marketing. It was a great 20 years with many ups and downs, a lot of work and a great deal of laughter with some superb people, for the most part. McLaren Marketing won a National Award for re-launching Added Touch Fat-Free Muffins (from a #4 brand to #1) and later went on to help launch Dr. Oetker’s Ristorante thin crust pizza developing a national promotion and print advertising campaign. (to a #1 brand)
It was shortly after starting McLaren Marketing that I met my met my present wife Julia. That is a story in itself which I will leave to Julia to relay at a later date. Suffice to say within 3 weeks, we were engaged and 7 months later, with my condo, and her home sold, we were married in our new home in East Oakville. Julia introduced me to a whole new wonderful world with three teen aged sons.
We have moved around starting with the home in east Oakville then to a lakefront home in Stoney Creek, and later to a beautiful old 1875 Victorian home in the village of Durham.
Each home has brought with it many great memories most of which involve copious quantities of food, wine and hilarity. To say nothing of the animals.
I had a personal hobby for many years as a book collector. It was in the village of Durham that thoughts of one day operating a home-office book store business was bantered about. As a result, Julia suggested the name, Lord Durham Rare Books. It was not until early 2008 however when we were living in Fenwick (Pelham) that I decided to make my hobby my new business career. It has been over 10 years now I have been buying and selling antiquarian books, maps, prints, and manuscripts.
Our move to St Catharines was a very practical decision. We wanted to be closer to our kids.
We were seeing them get older and launching into careers and creating families of their own. A 3 hour drive to come and visit was not a particularly desirable.
Our oldest son, Trevor attended Brock and after graduation stayed living in St Catharines. He is now a VP at Stelco. Trevor is married to Kim and they have two boys Brian 10 and Mathew 7.
Selby, our middle son moved down to Niagara and was hired at the Niagara Native Friendship Centre. He is in a relationship with Kara and now works at the Hamilton Native Friendship Centre.
Our youngest son Jordan attended Niagara College along with his now wife Jen They too chose to live in St Catharines until leaving for Leesburg Virginia literally the month after they were married in order for Jordan to take on the position of Winemaker as well as later, GM at Tarara Winery. They have added three more little boys to the family unit Ethan, 7, Declan 5, and Brock 1.
We are pretty confident this latest move of a year ago, is probably the last for us, well until the big one.
Living in the downtown of St. Catharines is a new and positive experience for us.
I trust my participation in Probus will be mutually beneficial. I thank you for being so welcoming and Bruce Knicley for the Probus introduction and invitation.