Printer and publisher of Scottish poetry. Born in Breaclete on the Hebridean island of Great Bernera, Macdonald was educated at the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway and then read history at the University of Edinburgh. Following time in London and then war service in the Royal Air Force, he settled in Edinburgh where he began a successful printing business, initially located in the city centre, but moving to Loanhead in 1969. Macdonald published pamphlets and books of poetry in Scots, Gaelic and English, written by his friends Robert Garioch (1909-81), Hugh MacDiarmid (1892 - 1978) and Sydney Goodsir Smith (1915-75), using this company to subsidise his work. He set up the Lines Review poetry magazine in 1952 which ran until 1998, with Norman MacCaig (1910-96), Sorley MacLean (1911-96) and the Denis Peploe (1914 - 1993) joining Goodsir Smith and MacDiarmid on its editorial board.
His work brought Macdonald a special Scottish Arts Council Award in 1972, an exhibition at the National Library of Scotland in 1987 and an MBE for services to Scottish literary publishing in 1992.
He died in Peebles, but is remembered by the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award, created in 2001 and presented annually for poems published in pamphlet form.