Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sunday's Obituary - Donald McDonald 1834-1913

Today I would like to share one my recent TROVE discoveries which relates to my great great Grandfather Donald McDonald.  Over the years, I had heard the stories from my father about Donald and how he came to Australia from Canada.  His death certificate states that he was born in Williamstown, Ontario Canada. However, I couldn't find any reference as to how he travelled from Canada to Australia.  You can imagine my excitement when I found this obituary in TROVE at the end of last year.  Not only does it give details of his adventures as he followed the gold mining trail, but also provides clues and links to his life in Australia.  A great starting point in putting together Donald McDonald's Story!!!

Death of an Old Identity

Braidwood Dispatch and Mining Journal, 16 April 1913

Another old Braidwood district identity has gone by the way of all flesh.  On Monday 31 March, at the age of 79, there passed away at the residence of his son, Angus, at Cattai, in the Hawkesbury district, Donald McDonald, a name widely known and justly honoured in every place it was his lot to be sojourn.

Deceased was a native of Glengarry, Canada; and Ralph Connor the Canadian author, has depicted with marvellous power the character of the stock from whom he sprang.

His family were well connected and highly honoured in their American home and the history of Canada as well marked with the deeds and aspirations of his kin from the early days of the Hudson Bay Company right down to the present time.

The marvellous tales of wealth so easily acquired on the gold fields of California enticed him at an early age to leave home and kindred, and many and rare were the tales he recounted of the life and dangers of the early California days.

Australia at that time was almost a terra incognita to the average American, and only for the "bug bear" of Botany Bay for incorrigible boys would perhaps have been almost non-existent.

Royal Hotel, in goldmining town of Yacendandah
But the discovery of gold by Hargreaves and the marvellous tales of prodigious wealth to be had for the seeking soon spread across the Pacific, and into every hole and corner of the world, and its echoes were heard among the hills of California and were heard by the hardy young Canadian and his mates and the tempting bait was too much for resistance and the Pacific was faced on board a brig which now would seem hazardous and dangerous for a short coastal journey.  

Post Office in Araluen
Arriving in Sydney he secured employment for and then began his mining life.The fields of the north and west were first tried; and later the fields of Victoria were essayed; chiefly the Ovens and Yacendandah, until the discovery of gold in the Braidwood District. Little River, Araluen and Bell's Creek were the scenes of his mining ventures here and the deep cutting of the granite bar at Bell's Creek will forever stand as a monument of his mining prowess.

With the decline of mining he engaged in the timber industry, first as manager for Mr Tippet at Reidsdale and afterwards as proprietor of the same place. 

Then followed a sojourn at Mogo in the Moruya district still in the timber line, until failing health caused his retirement, and he came to live with his daughter (Mrs Lynn Shepherd) on the haunts where he had spent his previous years.

The vigour of the climate decided hi to move to a more congenial home, and for the last 18 months of his life he lived with his son, as staged above. 

Deceased was a man of immense personal strength, as honest as the sun, and upright in all his dealings, taking a deep interest in manly sport and pastimes, and was a keen politician.

During the great floods of 1860 on the Little River his bravery was the means of saving several lives, and no danger him or no call was unheeded in the causes of humanity.

His family, all born in the district, consisted of Malcolm (Woodburn), Angus (Cattai), Annie (Ms Lynn Shepherd, of Braidwood), Donald, Denis, and Alexander of Sydney and Michael of Forbes. His wife predeceased him by 12 years, and her remains were interned at Mogo.

The funeral cortage was numerously attended and his remains were laid to rest in the Catholic Cemetery in the historic town of Winsor, the burial service being read by Rev, Fr. McDonnell and the funeral arrangements carried out by J. Chandler of Winsor.

1913 'Death of an Old Identity.', The Braidwood Dispatch and Mining Journal (NSW : 1888 - 1954), 16 April, p. 2, viewed 23 February, 2014,

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