October 15, 1916: Private Donald MacDonald

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Date of Birth: April 5, 1895 at Bailey’s Brook, Pictou County, NS

Parents: John A. and Janet (MacDonald) MacDonald

Siblings: Sisters Margaret Ann, Mary C. and Annie; brothers Ronald Francis, Andrew and Alexander P.

Marital Status: Single

Occupation: Farmer

Enlistment:  March 26, 1916 at New Glasgow, NS

Unit: 193rd Overseas Battalion

Service #: 902070

Rank:  Private

Previous Military Service: None

Next of Kin: Mrs. Janet MacDonald, North Grant, Antigonish County, NS (mother)

Date of Death: October 15, 1916 at Camp Aldershot, NS

Final Resting Place: St. Mary’s Cemetery, Lismore, Pictou Co., NS

Donald MacDonald was the son of John A. MacDonald, Bailey’s Brook, and Janet MacDonald, North Grant, Antigonish Co.. Donald was born at Baileys Brook, Pictou County, where his father operated a farm. John A. was the son of Alexander MacDonald, Ardness, grandson of John MacDonald, and great-grandson of John “Soldier” MacDonald, pioneer, Ardness, Pictou Co.. Donald’s grandfather, Alexander, was married twice and John A. was a son by his first marriage. During the 1800s, the family was known locally for building ships, especially schooners.

Janet MacDonald, Donald’s mother, was from North Grant, Antigonish County, the daughter of Andrew “Denoon” and Mary (Chisholm) MacDonald. Andrew, also known as “Fiddler,” was a son of John “Denoon” MacDonald, who purchased farmland from Hugh Denoon and thus acquired the nickname.

John A. MacDonald’s 1901 household included four sons, three daughters, his brother Angus and his son Alexander, and his sister Sarah. John A. passed away before year’s end, at which time Janet, afflicted with consumption (tuberculosis), returned to North Grant with daughters Mary C. and Annie.  John A.’s sister, Sarah, remained on the Bailey’s Brook farm, where she raised four of his children—Margaret, Alexander P., Donald and Ronald Francis. Margaret later took religious vows as Sister Phillip Neri MacDonald with the Sisters of St Martha, Bethany, passing away at the Motherhouse in 1970.

During the spring of 1916, the drive was on to recruit a Nova Scotia Highland Brigade, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Allison H. Borden, former Commanding Officer of the 85th Battalion. As the Brigade’s first and senior unit, the 85th recruited across the entire province. The three additional battalions obtained their complement of soldiers in specific regions—the 185th in Cape Breton, the 193rd in northern Nova Scotia, and the 219th in southwest Nova Scotia.

Donald MacDonald enlisted with the 193rd Battalion at New Glasgow, NS on March 26, 1916 and was declared medically fit on April 10.  The Brigade mobilized at Camp Aldershot, NS in late May and trained there throughout the summer months. With winter fast approaching, its personnel departed Halifax to great fanfare aboard the famous SS Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic, on October 13.

Private Donald MacDonald was not among the soldiers on board. Having fallen ill at Aldershot, he remained there in hospital, passing away from pneumonia on October 15, 1916. Military officials transported his remains to Lismore, Pictou County, where Donald was laid to rest in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Donald’s brother, Alexander P., registered for the United States military draft at Butte, Montana on June 5, 1917, while a second sibling, Ronald Francis, was drafted into Canadian military service on June 17, 1918. Another brother, Andrew, later became a monk in a Medicine Hat, Alberta monastery. Ronald Francis returned home after the war and was the last of the family to live on the old homestead, which today remains in the possession of relatives.


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