Leighton was recognized for his lifetime contributions to veterinary medicine as a clinical pathologist and as an internationally renowned scholar specializing in wildlife disease. The level of officer (OC) recognizes achievement and merit of a high degree, especially service to Canada or to humanity at large.
Gov. Gen. Mary Simon announced the 135 new appointees to the Order of Canada on Dec. 29. Appointees included two companions, 39 officers, one honorary member and 93 members.
A 1979 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) graduate of the WCVM, Leighton earned his PhD degree in experimental pathology at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., before becoming a faculty member in the WCVM’s Department of Veterinary Pathology where he contributed in the areas of teaching, diagnostic pathology and wildlife disease research.
In 2021, Leighton was among 135 USask researchers included on a Stanford University list that named the world’s most cited and top researchers within their disciplines.
In addition to his WCVM roles, Leighton is the former executive director and co-founder of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC, previously known as the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre). For the past three decades, the CWHC has provided nationwide wildlife disease surveillance along with other vital wildlife health services.
The CWHC also plays a critical role in global wildlife disease surveillance, and in 2007, the World Organisation for Animal Health (Office International des Epizooties or OIE) designated the organization as its first international collaborating centre in the areas of wild animal health and disease. The global designation was a personal milestone for Leighton, who travelled throughout the world facilitating workshops on wildlife health issues for the OIE.
In 2013, Leighton was named a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences — one of the highest awards in Canada’s academic community. One year later, Leighton received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Guelph in honour of his many contributions to the understanding of wildlife disease.
In 2020, the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP) also named Leighton a “Distinguished Member,” a title bestowed on ACVP diplomates who have given exceptionally distinguished service to the association or who have made outstanding contributions to the veterinary pathology discipline.
Leighton retired as a WCVM professor and stepped down as CWHC executive director in 2014. He and his partner, Eva McCauley, now live in Bear River, N.S.
Created in 1967, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. More than 7,000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the order.
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