Leo McKay Jr. is a writer and a teacher. He currently lives in Truro, Nova Scotia, where he has been a full-time high school teacher since 1994.
His critically acclaimed 2003 novel, Twenty-six, was based on the 1992 Westray Mine Disaster, an event that took place not far from McKay’s birthplace in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. In the fall of 2010, online public recommendation placed Twenty-six on CBC Canada Reads list of Forty Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade. In 2012, Twenty-six was chosen as the inaugural book for the One Book Nova Scotia event.
McKay’s third book is a novel called Roll Up the Rim. Roll Up the Rim is an independent release on Leo’s own imprint: Red Row House books. Roll Up the Rim was funded through an indiegogo.com campaign in the spring of 2012.
McKay was born and raised in the town of Stellarton, Nova Scotia, where he graduated from Stellarton High School in 1982. He grew up in the small working class Stellarton neighborhood called the Red Row, a neighborhood made up of hundred-year-old former mining company duplexes. Both of his parents grew up in the same neighborhood. His mother, Georgina Bellick, was the daughter of Eastern European immigrants. His father, Leo McKay Sr., who lived in the Red Row until his death in 2011, was a rivetter at the railcar factory in nearby Trenton before becoming a career labour leader, social activist, New Democrat politician, and eventually a member of Stellarton Town Council.
Leo McKay Jr. studied English at St. Francis Xavier University, French at Laval, Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia, and Education at Dalhousie. He lived in Asia for four years in his young adulthood.