William Graeme Leitch was born 28 September 1914 to Jim and Ethel Leitch of Winnipeg. William Leitch was a Boy Scout during his youth and in 1930 was a member of the team that won the Wallace Nesbitt Junior Championship First Aid Competition. He attended Wesley College prior to entering the University of Manitoba, from which he graduated in 1938 with a B.Sc. degree in zoology and geology. On 27 November 1939 he married Inez Isabel Fines, and in 1947 they had one daughter, Janet.
In 1939, he enlisted in the RCAF as a pilot officer, spending most of the war with the Easter Air Command in Canada’s maritime region. He retired in 1945 with the rank of Squadron Leader. Following the war, Leitch began graduate studies in wildlife management at the University of Toronto, then returned to Winnipeg to continue his studies at the University of Manitoba. He graduated in 1952 with a Master of Science degree in wildlife ecology.
Leitch first joined Ducks Unlimited in 1939 as a field biologist following graduation from the University of Manitoba. After the war, he re-joined the company and in 1951 was appointed Chief Biologist, a position he held for 26 years until his retirement in 1977. Leitch was also one of the founding members of the Winnipeg Skeet Club, serving as its president in 1966, and was the Manitoba Skeet Champion in 1963 and the 410 Gauge Champion in 1969.
Leitch’s published works include: Ducks and Men: Forty Years of Co-operation in Conservation (1978), Fireside Waterfowler: Fundamentals of Duck and Goose Ecology (1987), and numerous technical and professional papers. Recognitions for his work included the Province of Manitoba’s Professional Wildlife Conservation Award and the establishment of the William G. Leitch Habitat Project in the Couteau Hills of Saskatchewan by Ducks Unlimited (Canada).
William Leitch passed away on 2 January 2009.