Mcdonald Last Name History & Origin

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My ancestors were Scottish emigrants who settled in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Their surname was Mac Donald. In about 1984, while I was visiting the graveyard adjoining the small parish where my grandfather was baptized in East Bay, Cape Breton, I came across an interesting stone for a Dougal Mac Donald. The inscription said that Dougal died in an avalanche at Rodger's Pass, British Columbia in 1910. I later learned that Dougal was a third cousin.

Years later my wife and I, while on vacation in Canada, had occasion to travel through Rogers’ Pass, one of the highest passes in the Canadian Rockies, and while at the visitor's center, we viewed an excellent film which described the "Snow Wars". It seems that for several decades the Pass has been plagued by fearsome avalanches which, without warning, would cascade tons of snow down upon the railroad tracks and close down the Canadian Pacific Railroad for weeks at a time. Therefore, the RR hired crews of day laborers to dig out the tracks following these natural disasters. On one such occasion, March 10, 1911, while a crew of sixty-two workers cleared the tracks from an earlier snow slide, there was a tremendous roar and once again down came the mountain killing all sixty-two men.
Before leaving I picked up a book at the gift shop which provided additional information about this disaster. It confirmed that a burly foreman by the name of Dougal Mac Donald had been one of the victims. Early newspapers in nearby Revelstoke described how Dougal's body was taken home for a large family funeral and burial in the small cemetery adjoining his home parish in East Bay, Nova Scotia. I thought that ended my record keeping on Dougal Mac Donald for, obviously, there were no descendants, however I was wrong.

In the spring of 1996 I was contacted by a Father Jim Mac Donald, a priest in Ontario who was seeking genealogical information for a Clarence Kenneth Mac Donald, grandson of Dougal. I informed the priest that this couldn't be so for Dougal died as a single man at Rogers’ Pass. The good father informed me I was only partially correct, for although single, Dougal, nonetheless, had impregnated a young girl before his death. She immediately, before anyone could get her name, left the baby boy at an adoption home. Well, the baby grew up and now one of his three sons was looking for his grandparents. I would like to say that I helped him to find his grandmother but I did not. Up to this time all Ken has learned about her was that she was probably from a prominent local family in Revelstoke. However, I have provided Ken with contacts to lots of living relatives and he has visited that small cemetery where his grandfather is interred, Dougal, whose seed was not wiped out by the avalanche and who did leave a legacy.
Dec 01, 2002 · Reply