Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 9, 1897
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinIsabella McDonald, mother, 1000 10th Avenue West, Vancouver, BC
Trade / CallingStudent
Service Details
Regimental Number2139550
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion2nd Depot Battalion BC Regiment
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Place of EnlistmentVictoria, BC
Address at Enlistment1000 10th Avenue West, Vancouver, BC
Date of EnlistmentMay 9, 1918
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 4, 1972
Age at Death75

McDonald, John Daniel

John Daniel McDonald was born on 9 September 1897 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. His father Daniel R McDonald was from southwestern Ontario while his mother Isabella Morrison was from Stornoway in Scotland. The couple married on 17 January 1896 in Rat Portage where Daniel was working as a “railroad man”. By the time of the 1901 census they had relocated to Ottawa, Daniel’s occupation given as “collar/cullar on the census. Although birth and death records were not found, also on the census were two young daughters. Eventually the family moved west where Daniel became involved in the mining industry in Dawson, Yukon, the family home being in Vancouver. Sadly Daniel died in July of 1915 in a drowning accident in Dawson. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Isabella and one son in Vancouver. In July of 1916 John arrived in Ketchikan, Alaska aboard the Princess Sophia, on his way to Dawson.

Drafted under the Military Service Act of 1917, John was called up for service on 9 May 1918 in Victoria, BC. Living in Vancouver with this mother at the time, his occupation was given as student and his mother Isabella as next of kin. A few days later he was discharged from service to go to the RAF Training Depot in Toronto. Attesting on 15 May in Vancouver, by the 22nd John was in Toronto to begin training as a pilot. With the end of the war he was discharged from service on 31 December 1918 in consequence of being surplus to RAF requirements, rank of Cadet Pilot.

At the time of the 1921 census John and his mother Isabella were living in Vancouver where John was going to school. That year he made a trip to Seattle, occupation given as store clerk on the passenger list. In 1922 he travelled to Ketchikan as a student and then again in 1931 as mining engineer.

On 9 March 1934, in Dawson in the Yukon, John married Evelyn Curtis. Born on 16 March 1911 in Tacoma, Washington, Evelyn was the daughter of Charles Franklin Curtis, a butcher, and Emma Olga Lund. Both from the USA, Charles was from Kansas while Emma was from Buckley, Washington. The couple married in 1910 in Victoria, BC. By the 1920 US census, the family was living in Skagway in Alaska. By 1940 Charles and Emma were living in Fairbanks where Charles was working as a carpenter.

John and Evelyn first settled in Dawson where son Curtis Ian was born in 1935. By the birth of son Dann Charles in 1938, the family was living in Mayo in the Yukon, at the time a mining community about 230 kilometres east of Dawson. By the 1940’s the family had moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, a 1941 border crossing record suggesting that John was working as a mine operator while his 1941 naturalization record gave his occupation as miner and trucker. In 1942 John signed his WW2 Draft registration card in Fairbanks where he was working for Roy B. Earling’s US Smelting, Refining, and Mining Company. By the 1950 census for Fairbanks, John’s occupation was heavy duty operator/construction contractor and his widowed mother-in-law Emma was living with the family, also including a new son, John Dee. John and Evelyn later gave birth to another child, daughter Bonnie. In 1971 the family was living on the outskirts of Fairbanks in College as evidenced by John’s driver’s license.

Evelyn’s mother Emma died in 1969 in Hayward, Alameda County in California. By 1972 John and Evelyn were also living in Hayward when John passed away on 4 November 1972 in Napa. He was predeceased by his father (1915) and his mother who died in a home for the aged in Essondale, BC on 12 July 1954. Daniel and Isabella are interred in Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver. Evelyn later died on 1 July 1973 in Hayward. John and Evelyn’s final resting place is unknown.

By Judy Thorburn

John’s 1971 driver’s license photograph courtesy of his granddaughter Jennifer McDonald Manns.