Barclay was born in Pembroke, Ontario, and moved to Ottawa at an early age. He developed a love of sports while quite young and dreamed of high jumping in the Olympics while in grade five.
Barclay played five sports a year for most of his high school years, playing football, volleyball, basketball, badminton and track and field. He set a high school record in the high jump, won top male athlete at Lisgar Collegiate, won the high school boy’s singles event in badminton, played on 3 high school championship football teams and in 1961 was the Canadian Juvenile high jump champion. As a three time member of Team Ontario, he competed in three National Championships in the high jump, long jump, triple jump and the 4×100 relay, winning a bronze medal in the long jump.
Always interested in sports, Barclay worked during the summer months as a playground supervisor in Sandy Hill. He eventually became a “sports specialist” for the Ottawa Parks & Recreation Department. In this position, he organized summer sporting events for thousands of Ottawa children including the Summer Olympics, swim programs, city-wide softball leagues, playdays and field trips. A love of this experience working with children led Barclay to a 34 year teaching career in the Ottawa area. While teaching elementary grades, Barclay was always very active in the Athletic Associations serving as president, a convener of leagues and tournaments, and coaching as many school teams as time would allow. Outside of the school environment, he was an active coach in minor hockey, minor softball and track and field. Some of the athletes he has coached have gone on to play in the NHL while others have competed for Canada in the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.
Barclay has always been a very active official. He has been a softball umpire doing all the local leagues and umpired a Canadian Armed Forces Championship. As a basketball referee, Barclay officiated high school, intermediate and senior leagues, and college and university games. He has been a registered track and field official since 1967 and has worked his way up the ranks to become a level 5 (international level) referee working in the high jump, pole vault, long jump and triple jump events. Along the way, he has done meets that included: the Canadian Junior and Senior Championships, 5 Canada Summer Games, The Ontario Games, Pan Am Juniors, Pan Am Games, Ottawa Citizen Indoor Games, World Junior and Senior Championships, Francophone Games and the 1976 Summer Olympic Games. Barclay has been the field referee at local high school meets for more than 30 years. He has also served as a jumps referee at many Ontario High School Championships.
Barc, as he is known to his friends, is a member of the Goulbourn Sports Wall of Fame and has received on Ontario Volunteers Award. In 2003, Barclay received The Ottawa Sports Award of Excellence-Lifetime Achievement Award for Technical Official. He was later asked to join the volunteer board which he as assisted as a Director since 2004. He was inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame in 2016 and was selected for the Athletics Canada National Officials Committee Wall of Honour in 2021. In 2023 he was inducted into the Ontario Athletics Hall of Fame.
Barclay keeps active playing golf, camping and officiating track meets in the summer while in the fall and winter months, he turns his attention to curling and playing goal in old-timers hockey.