Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 28, 1880
Place of BirthMartintown, Glengarry County, Ontario
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinNellie Crawford MacDonald (wife), 64 Langside Street, Winnipeg
Trade / CallingLumber merchant
Service Details
Regimental NumberN/A
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo. 30 Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Forestry Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at Enlistment64 Langside Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentDecember 1, 1915
Age at Enlistment35
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 25, 1955
Age at Death74
Buried AtGreenwood Cemetery, Park Rapids, Minnesota
PlotBlock 67, Lot 3, Grave 3

MacDonald, Herbert Robertson

Major Herbert Robertson MacDonald enlisted in December 1915 and served with the Canadian Forestry Corps in Great Britain and France. He returned to Canada in March 1919.

According to his service record and other documents, Herbert was born on 28 July 1880 in Martintown, Glengarry County, Ontario. His mother, Katherine Janet MacDonald (nee Robertson), was also born in Martintown. She was a widow when she married in June 1889 in Toronto. No record of her first marriage or of Herbert’s birth has been found. Katherine’s second husband, James Millar, was a shoemaker who had emigrated from Scotland. She had at least three more children with James: Catherine (1890), Jean Wallace (1892) and John James (1894).

When the 1891 census was taken the family was living in Hibbert Township, Perth County, Ontario. By the time Jean was born they had moved to the town of Norman (now part of Kenora), in northwestern Ontario. John was born there in August 1894. James was working as a millhand at the time but within a few years the family moved to Winnipeg and he returned to his trade as a shoemaker.

When the 1901 census was taken Herbert was living at home in Winnipeg and working as a railway clerk. He was married in Park Rapids, Minnesota on 17 January 1906. His wife, Daisy Helen (Nellie) Crawford, was born in Verndale, Minnesota in 1884, one of seven children of Arthur and Edith Crawford. In 1900 her family was living in Park Rapids and her father was a grain buyer. Herbert and his wife settled in Winnipeg and by 1911 he was working as a lumber yard manager. He went on to have a long career in the lumber industry.

Herbert’s brother John James Millar enlisted in Edmonton in July 1915 and in January 1916 he was transferred to the 144th Battalion, which was based in Winnipeg. Herbert had joined the 144th Battalion in December 1915. He signed his Officers’ Declaration on 26 February 1916, getting a commission as a Lieutenant in the unit. His occupation was lumber merchant, he was living in Winnipeg and next of kin was his wife Nellie Crawford MacDonald. He said he had served for three years with the 90th Regiment, a militia unit.

In September Herbert was sent to the UK with a draft of officers. On 1 November he was transferred to No. 3 Company, 224th Battalion, Canadian Forestry Corps. The unit was based in Lymington, Hampshire until the spring of 1917 when they were sent to France, arriving there on 21 April. Herbert was appointed as Officer Commanding and his unit was redesignated as No. 30 Company, Canadian Forestry Corps in Forestry District No. 1. On 1 September Herbert became Temporary Captain. Eleven days later he was knocked from his horse and injured in the back and shoulder by a falling tree. The injury wasn’t too serious and he was able to rejoin his company a short time later.

Herbert was appointed Temporary Major on 1 March 1918. Later that month his brother, John James Millar, died of wounds at a casualty clearing station in France. He’s buried at Namps-Au-Val British Cemetery near Amiens. Forestry operations in France began winding down after the Armistice and Herbert returned to England with his unit in mid-January 1919. He was posted to the Canadian Forestry Corps at Sunningdale. A month later he was on his way back to Canada, sailing on the SS Belgic on 23 February and arriving at Halifax on 1 March. He was discharged on demobilization on 22 March.

While he was overseas his wife had moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and Herbert joined her there in March 1919. When the 1920 census was taken he and Nellie were living in Great Falls, Montana where he was manager of a lumber company. By 1935 they had settled in Chicago and Herbert became a partner in the MacDonald Crawford Lumber Company. He passed away in Chicago on 25 January 1955, at age 74. Nellie remarried in 1959 and died in Minnesota in 1964 (Mrs. Ben Senske). They are both buried in the Crawford family plot at Greenwood Cemetery in Park Rapids, Minnesota.

By Becky Johnson

Grave marker photos taken at Greenwood Cemetery are courtesy of Joan Edmonson on

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