Donald William Caven McNaughton
Born: July 18, 1926
Died: November 27, 2013 (Montréal)
Member: Canadian Football Hall of Fame (1994)
For 25 years, Don McNaughton was associated with the Schenley Football Awards, which were presented to the outstanding players in the Canadian Football League. His long association earned him induction as a builder in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton, Ont.
McNaughton was hired by Schenley as advertising director in 1963. His responsibilities included being awards coordinator for prizes established 10 years earlier. He handled the awards for four seasons before moving to Vancouver to become president of Park & Tilford Distilleries, a subsidiary. He became president of Schenley Canada Distillery in 1969, the same year in which he presented the first of 20 annual Most Outstanding Player awards at the awards banquet.
“Schenleys became synonymous with the Grey Cup at a time when it became a national event,” the great Canadian quarterback Russ Jackson (seven Schenleys) once said.
McNaughton attended Loyola College in Montréal, where he worked as the advertising and business manager of the Loyola News student newspaper. After stints at McKim Advertising, Trans-Canada Airlines (now Air Canada) and Carling Breweries, he joined Schenley.
Outside the corporate boardroom, McNaughton helped negotiate the merging of Loyola with Sir George Williams University to become Concordia University, on whose board of governors he served for many years, including several as chairman. The university presented him with an honorary doctorate in 2007.
McNaughton retired as Schenley chairman the day before the distillery announced it would no longer be sponsoring the awards.
Over the years, a handful of sportswriters chafed at the distillers’ hold on the football awards.
“At one time, I personally had a policy of never mentioning the word Schenley,” the great Scott Young wrote in 1978, “while waging a losing battle to persuade the CFL that it was big enough to sponsor its own annual awards and name them after great players or coaches of the past.”
Defeated in his campaign, Young admitted that when it was time to award the Highest Publicity Volume Award of the Canadian Association for Free Plugs in the Sports Media, the “man carried to the podium on a sedan chair, supported by the shelf-like bosoms of the event’s hostesses, will be Donald W. McNaughton, president and chief executive officer of Canadian Schenley Distilleries Ltd.”