Walter Bruce MacDonald was born in New Westminster on December 5, 1956 to Shirley MacDonald (Bowell) and Walter Charles MacDonald. He was raised in New Westminster where he attended Herbert Spencer Elementary School and New Westminster Secondary School. He received his BA in English Literature in 1982 from the University of Victoria, and his MA in Fine Arts in 2016 from the University of British Columbia.
In 2011, MacDonald published "The Good Hope Cannery." In 2013, he published "Salmonbellies vs. The World," which is the story of the most famous team in lacrosse and their greatest rivals. He has published poetry in many Canadian periodicals and in 2018 published "The Massacre Confirmed Our Worst Suspicions." Two books of short fiction inspired by MacDonald’s summer experiences in Crescent Beach, "Henry The Dwarf" and "Blackie’s Spit," were published in 2008 and 2015 respectively.
MacDonald’s great grandparents, Alex and May Matheson, arrived in New Westminster in 1886. Another set of great grandparents, Samuel and Sarah Bowell, settled in Enderby, B.C. in 1893 and came to New Westminster in 1905. His third set of great grandparents, Ernest and Elizabeth Wiltshire, arrived in Surrey in 1887 and moved to Coquitlam in 1907. His grandfather, Roderick Charles MacDonald, arrived in New Westminster in 1907 and married the Wiltshires' daughter Daisy. Drawing on a wealth of family papers, memoirs, photographs, interviews, and his own experiences, MacDonald published a history of his Matheson ancestors and family, "The Lives and Times of Alex and May Matheson," in 2008. He then published a history of his MacDonald and Wiltshire ancestors and their offspring, "Catch-As-Catch-Can", in 2019 and a history of his Bowell great grandparents and their children, "God’s Unexplained Loving Kindness," in 2020.