Phil MacDonald's father, a tailor, had won several medals in local track and field competitions in Prince Edward Island, Canada, and Phil quickly took an active interest in following in his footsteps. He joined the Charlottetown-based Abegweit Amateur Athletic Association after winning an international hexathalon contest in the city in 1920. He began competing with the club in 1921 and quickly built up a reputation for his athletic talents at a time when track and field was popular both locally and nationally by winning the 120 yard hurdles event at that year's Maritime Championships. By 1924 he held a Maritime record in the broad jump, had won the triple jump event at the 1923 Canadian Championships, and was hailed as one of Canada's best hopes for a medal at the 1924 Summer Olympics. At the Olympic trials he made the 400 m hurdles team, despite having never run in the event previously nor experienced any endurance training. Yet, as the Summer Games arrived, his times were equal to that of Canada's top hurdler of the time, Warren Montabone. He became only the second person from Prince Edward Island to compete in the Olympic Games, after his coach Bill Halpenny, and it was his first time competing outside of the Maritimes. In the 400 m hurdles event he placed third in his heat during the first round and was eliminated. He also competed in the triple jump competition, finishing fourteenth in a field of twenty competitors.
After his Olympic experience he continued to compete and set a new Maritime record in the 120 yard hurdles in 1925, winning the hop, step, and jump and running broad jump events later that year at the Canadian National Championships. He continued his victory streak through the 1926 Maritime Championships, winning three events, but was not selected for the Canadian delegation to the 1928 Summer Olympics. By the time of the Olympic trials in 1927 he had a steady job at the Royal Bank in Charlottetown and a year later he moved to Toronto, ending his athletic career in favor of beginning a new one as a lumber broker. He was inducted into the Prince Edward Island Sports Hall of Fame in 1969.
Personal Bests: 400H – unknown; TJ – unknown.