YARMOUTH - Wedgeport resident Leo LeBlanc’s involvement with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) began with a banquet in 1985.
This year the organization recognized him as its Nova Scotia Volunteer of the Year.
LeBlanc was raised near the Tusket Islands, hunting and fishing – and cooking delicious wild dinners – often with his brother Neil.
When the brothers moved inland to Wedgeport, about 20 kilometres southeast of Yarmouth, they started a business together building houses.
In 1985, still passionate and connected to the outdoor lifestyle he grew up with, Leo LeBlanc joined Paul Tufts, a federal wildlife biologist, to organize a Yarmouth County banquet to raise money to preserve wetlands.
LeBlanc called 15 outdoorsmen and women he knew and asked them to a meeting. That’s how the first Yarmouth fundraising DUC banquet started. In the first year, 365 attended and raised $65,000 for the organization.
Three decades later, the banquet is still held at the Rodd Grand Hotel and going strong. Four of the original committee members are still on board, as are many of the first sponsors and donors. LeBlanc’s initiative and ongoing leadership earned him the title of DUC’s Volunteer of the Year for Nova Scotia.
He continues to chair the committee, organizing the annual event with his colour-coded ribbon system. His mother always said that when she wanted something done, she gave it to Leo. Together with the committee, LeBlanc and his wife Brenda, their three sons and their wives, the grandchildren and a collection of friends, all help at the banquet. They sell up to $20,000 in raffle tickets alone.
On top of his volunteer efforts, LeBlanc keeps busy building and repairing boats. He’s a carpenter by trade and likes to create things: he’s always finding nails in his pockets.
LeBlanc builds eider duck nest boxes for installation around Wedgeport. One year, he built a 13-foot fibreglass rowboat that was auctioned at the banquet.
“I could go on for hours about Leo,” says Jamie Young, provincial manager of events and volunteer relations.
“He’s awesome, not just for Ducks, but for everyone.”
More about Ducks Unlimited
Ducks Unlimited Canada was incorporated in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on March 10, 1937.
Ducks Unlimited places strong emphasis on science and research. It works closely with biologists and ecologists to evaluate habitat needs and to monitor how birds respond to various environmental changes.