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Our Past is your Present!

We are a non-profit organization focused on promoting, preserving, and being a strong, active resource for all things of heritage value on Sea Island in Richmond, British Columbia. Join us to learn about the history of Sea Island and its residents, past and present.


First Families: The McDonald Family

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McDonald, Duncan (1850-1919)

McDonald (née McDowell), Catherine "Katie" Isabella

McDonald, Hugh (1856-1944)

McDonald (née Stephens), Harrie Rebecca

Duncan and Hugh McDonald (Scottish), sawmill workers, farmers

Duncan McDonald and his brother Hugh left Ontario, Canada, in 1874 and travelled to San Francisco in the United States, then to Victoria, British Columbia, to finally settle on Sea Island. Both Duncan and Hugh worked for the False Creek Sawmill, hand logging, and in 1875 each bought land on Sea Island and became farmers.

Duncan and Hugh McDonald were born to Sarah Dewar (1813-1906) and Donald McDonald (1805-1887), both born in Scotland. Sarah and Donald McDonald both passed away in Ontario, Canada.

Duncan McDonald married Catherine "Katie" Isabella McDowell, born in 1856 in Shawville, Quebec. Catherine died in British Columbia in 1943. She was born to Samuel McDowell (1825-1894) and Mary Harried Pattyson (1825-1896), both born in Ireland.

Duncan and Catherine McDonald had six children: Mary Arabella "Minnie" McDonald (1888-1943), married to Frederick Horace May (1879-1943) in 1922; Donald Samuel McDonald (1889-1962) married to Mary Jane Lundy (1892-1969) in 1927; Thomas "Harold" McDonald (1891-1975), married to Norval May Moodie (1891-1988) in 1933; Gordon Kilgour McDonald (1893-1927), married to Noarval May Moodie (1891-1988); Duncan Gladstone McDonald (1896-1980), married to Ella Elizabeth Barr (1895-1990) in 1927; and Hugh "Ralph" McDonald (1899-1995), married to Jean McDonald (1920-1946) in 1943, then to Etta May Hattie (1920-1997), after 1965. Norval May Moodie was the widow of Harold's brother, Gordon.

Hugh McDonald married Harriet Rebecca Stephens in 1885. Harriet Rebecca Stephens was born in 1864 in New Brunswick. She died on Sea Island in 1943. She was born to Joseph Stephens, born in 1842, in Nova Scotia and Matilda Allward, born in 1840, in New Brunswick.

Hugh and Harriet McDonald had five children: Martha Ferneda "Fern" McDonald (1886-1920), married to John Alexander Grant (1883-1940) on Sea Island, Clara Isabella McDonald (1887-1962), married to Matthew "Roy" Arbuthnot (1884-1946) in 1909, Hugh Herbert McDonald (1888-1996), married to Mary Jane "Babe" Draney, Angus Duncan McDonald (still conducting research), and Harry Stevens McDonald (1898-1970), married to Irene Mabel McKay in 1925.

Hugh and Mary Jane Draney are the grandparents of Sharon Bordeleau (née McDonald), one of the board members of the Sea Island Heritage Society. Elvin Harry McDonald (son of Harry and Irene McDonald), and his daughter Patricia Ann Marlow (née McDonald) have provided much information on their family.

To view the McDonald family tree on Ancestry or obtain further information, contact Barb Nielsen at barbaralynnnielsen@gmail.com.