52 Ancestors: Week 4 – I\’d Like to Meet John Wellington McDonald

John McDonald and his daughter Marion

This week\’s 52 Ancestors prompt is \”I\’d like to Meet\”. I have more than one ancestor I\’d love to sit down with:

  • My 6x great grandfather Michael BASTARCHE DIT BASQUE. His and his brother Pierre were deported by the British from Acadia to South Carolina in 1755. They fled and went on an incredible journey through the American colonies, Quebec and New Brunswick to finally be reunited with his wife and children in Prince Edward Island. You can find his story in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography
  • Any of my Foreign Protestant ancestors, who came over from what is now Switzerland, Germany and France. They founded Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. It would be incredible to hear what their lives were like before they came, and to hear why they came.
  • My grey sheep 2x great grandfather Honore GOVEREAU. Originally born Germain DEVEAU in Quebec, he migrated to the Boston area with his wife and child. He left them to find work in New Brunswick and never returned. He changed his name and married 2 more times. I descend from his marriage to his last wife, Appoline Savoie. My recent DNA matches to DENEAU descendants has confirmed for me his original name. I call him my grey sheep ancestor because life is not black or white, and neither are people. I would really like to know why he made the choices he did.
  • My great grandfather James Henry DOUGLAS. His birthplace is a mystery. Somehow around the end of WWI he ended up in Glasgow, Scotland. There he met my great grandmother Mary Black MACARTHUR, had 2 children, and then brought her to Canada. There they had 4 more children. He also informally adopted Mary\’s children from her first marriage.
The person I\’d like most to meet though is my great grandfather John Wellington MCDONALD. He\’s been my biggest brick wall, and I\’d love to find out more about him. It frustrates me to no end that the man who my surname comes from is the one I know the least about. Every bit of information I\’ve got on him was hard won. All records I have about him state he was born in Ontario. Somehow between 1922 and 1925 he went to Nova Scotia and met my great grandmother, and ran off with her to Ontario. My sadly short time line pertaining to John is as follows. 
14 June 1894?
John\’s marriage and death registrations give birth calculations of 1894 and 1896. I have not been able to find a definitive birth registration for him. 
27 June 1922
Edna marries her second husband Adolphus FREDERICKS in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Record obtained from Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics.
26 January 1925
Jack and Edna are in Ontario. My grandfather Edward James MCDONALD is born in Cochrane, Ontario. Information obtained from family.

6 November 1927
My great aunt Beulah Gertrude Marion MCDONALD is born in Cochrane, Ontario. Information obtained from family.

19 April 1929
My great uncle Hector Martin MCDONALD is born in North Bay, Ontario. Information obtained from family.

1 August 1932
My great aunt Pauline MCDONALD is born somewhere in Ontario. The date of birth came from her death registration.

14 November 1934
Pauline dies of the flu in Toronto, Ontario. John is in the informant on the death certificate and stated he was born in Ontario.

25 June 1935
John and Edna have a still born baby boy in Toronto, Ontario. Jack stated he was born in Kingston, Ontario.

John is a plastics worker living on 34 McMurrich Street, St. Paul\’s, Ontario. Obtained from Ancestry\’s Canada Voter\’s Lists collection.

John is a taxi driver, and still living on McMurrich Street. Obtained from Ancestry\’s Canada Voter\’s Lists collection.

19 March 1956
John and Edna finally decide to get married. I\’m not sure if the late wedding had to do with pension concerns, or if it was because of Edna\’s second husband. A death certificate for Adolphus FREDERICKS has never been found. John states he was born in Ontario, and the son of John Angus MCDONALD and Mildred MURPHY. He states they are immigrants from Ireland. John also states he is a bachelor.  Information obtained from their marriage registration.

John is a taxi driver, and the family has moved to 415 Christie Street in Toronto, Ontario. Obtained from Ancestry\’s Canada Voter\’s Lists collection.

5 February 1964
John dies in Greenacres Nursing Home in Newmarket, Ontario.  Information obtained from John\’s death certificate. Edna was the informant, and stated that she did not know his parents\’ names, only that they were born in Ireland. Which says to me she never met them.

Unfortunately his obituary in the Toronto Star does not give any information either.

In summary, this is what I have about John:

  • Born in Kingston, Ontario about 1894
  • Son of Irish immigrants John Angus McDonald and Mildred Murphy
  • Lived in Cochrane and North Bay Ontario, before settling in Toronto
  • Married Edna in 1956 in Toronto, Ontario.
  • Died in 1964 in Newmarket Ontario
The information I have about John was obtained from the following record sets:
What I am still looking for is a record of John\’s birth in Ontario. I also have yet to locate him before 1925. I have found no definitive record of him with either of his parents. In fact, I have found no definitive records of his parents in Canada. 
Interestingly enough, there is a John Wellington McDonald born in Nova Scotia in the 1870\’s. He is NOT my John however. Firstly, this John was born about 20 years before my great grandfather. Secondly, once I \”killed him off\” Nova Scotia John, I found that he married someone else, and is buried with her in Nova Scotia.
My next steps to find out more about my tight lipped ancestor John:
  • Obtain birth registrations for Edward, Marion, Hector and Pauline. Because they were all born less than 104 years ago, I will have to apply to the Ontario Registrar General for these. As I am not the nearest next of kin, I will have to ask older members of my family to give me a hand. 

  • Contact or visit the Presbyterian Church Archives in Toronto. John and Edna were married in St. John\’s Presbyterian church, and I\’m hoping the church register might have some information.

  • The family thinks John may have served in World War I. I am wading through all the MCDONALD soldiers to try and find a connection to John, John Angus, or Mildred. As you can imagine, it\’s slow going. Library and Archives Canada recently completed their massive digitization project of services records for WWI Canadians soldiers. You can access the collection on the LAC website under the collection title Personnel Records of the First World War.

  • Send away for the 1940 National Registration Record for John. These records are not publicly available, but you can apply to get a copy of them from Statistics Canada. You can see an explanation of the record set here. The link to order the records is here.

  • I have over a thousand 4th cousin or closer DNA matches, thanks to my French Canadian/ Acadian maternal side. I have 1st cousins and an aunt on my maternal side who\’ve also tested. By looking at who they DON\’T match to, I\’ve managed to isolate a group of matches that look to come from my paternal side. I\’m hoping to exchange information with these matches to see if I can determine where and how we match.
If your family tree has a John MCDONALD that you think might be my great grandfather, I would love to hear from you. My contact information can be found on the Contact Page tab.

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