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I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me. Donations of pre-1920 photographs are also most welcome. I hope you enjoy your visit!
~The Archivist


Monday, May 23, 2016

Fresh Eyes On: George McDonald of 265 Victoria Drive, Vancouver

Sometimes I like to revisit "cold cases" in hopes of finding new leads. Records are added to online databases everyday, and repositories are continually scanning and digitizing their collections. I decided to have another look at one of my posts from 2012.  Below is the original blog post.  Please have a read through and I'll pick up where I left off almost four years ago.

Somewhat a Shame Wednesday: Geo McDonald, Glasgow, Scotland and Vancouver, BC, 1890s
Aug 1, 2012




This chromotype carte de visite features an older man with an amazing white beard, taken at the J. Whyte Studio in Glasgow, Scotland.  On the reverse we have an handwritten inscription:


The problem here is the "Mrs." in front of Geo McDonald.  Clearly the subject is not a Mrs, so we aren't sure if Mrs. Geo McDonald is the man's wife, a recipient of the photo or if, perhaps, a mistake was made with the Mrs. part.  The reason I include the latter possibility is because I have a photograph taken at the same studio, probably at the same time, of an older woman.  These photos were found together and this photo of the woman has a similar inscription in the same hand on the back:

Notice that this one doesn't have the Mrs. part.  Could the inscriber have mixed up the labelling on these?
This second back also provides an additional clue. There is a studio stamp on the back "The Convex Art & Novelty [Company]."  On David Mattison's Camera Workers site, he shows that this studio was owned by T. Elf, a photographer who operated out of 3 - 319 W. Pender St., Vancouver, BC in 1911.  The address, "265 Victoria Drive" is also a Vancouver address.  I could only find one match for a George McDonald at this address in the year 1911 (Henderson's Greater Vancouver Directory):

George McDonald, emp. P. Burns & Co. Ltd.  h.265 Victoria Dr. 

The images look to be of mid-1890s vintage, and J. Whyte was in business at 75 Jamaica Street from 1893 to 1897.

So, are the images of a Mr & Mrs. George McDonald?  Are they the recipients?  Is G. McDonald simply making copies of the original J. Whyte cdvs at the Convex Art & Novelty Company? I suspect (but have no proof) that George MacDonald may be a son or son-in-law to the man in the photo.  If George McDonald  is employed in 1911, then George is not the man in the photo.  If the original image was taken in 1895, and we guess the man's age to be 75 at the time the photo was taken, the gentleman would be 91 years old in 1911.

What are your thoughts?

May 22, 2016

I had a look at the problem with fresh eyes and decided to spend some more time looking into the residents of 265 Victoria Drive, Vancouver. I don't know why I didn't find this in my earlier search, but this time I located the 1916 WW1 Attestation Paper for a 40-year-old George McDonald whose residence is listed as 265 Victoria Drive, Vancouver, BC1. George was signing up for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force and lists his wife, Margaret, as his next-of-kin. According to his answers on the attestation, George was born in Dornoch, Sutherlandshire, Scotland on the 21st March 1876.

I could not find a George McDonald in the 1881 Scotland Census who matched perfectly with the birthdate George provided in his attestation paper.  I'm unsure of Canada's age limit for enlistment  prior to conscription in 1917. In Britain, the upper limit was 40 years of age. After conscription began, Canadian soldiers had to be between the ages of 18 and 45. Perhaps George was attempting to look younger on paper. I did find the following family, and I believe our George is the seven-year-old scholar2.

In the 1881 census, the M[a]cDonald household in Shepherd's House, Dornoch, Sutherland, Scotland was comprised of:

Simon Macdonald, 40, Shepherd
Isabella Macdonald, 41, Shepherd's wife
Christina Macdonald, 14, Shepherd's daughter
Jane Macdonald, 11, Scholar
George Macdonald, 7, Scholar
Donald Macdonald, 5, Shepherd's son
Isabella Macdonald, 2, Shepherd's daughter

On Familysearch.org, I found George Mcdonald's birth transcription with a birthdate of 20 Mar 18743. George died in train accident in 1951.  The birthdate on the official death record, with information provided by his son, is 21 March 18744.

So, what do we know?  We can guess that these two photographs were in the possession of Mr. & Mrs. Geo McDonald of 265 Victoria Drive. We still don't know who the two photographed individuals are. We are in a better position to speculate, though.  It could be a portrait of George's parents:  Simon McDonald and Isabella Grant McDonald.  Or they could be Margaret's parents.  Margaret's father's name, as listed on her death record in 1920, was Peter McLaughlin5.  Margaret was almost a decade older than her husband George. I think the dates work out more in favour of the man in the image to be her father, Peter. But of course, that's a wild guess.

I tried to find out more about Margaret's family, so I could see if someone has posted portraits online of Peter McLaughlin and his wife, but was unable to follow the trail for Margaret with any positive result. Maybe a kind reader can help with this mystery.


1 Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, 1914-1918, digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 May 2016), British Columbia, Vancouver, 158th (Overseas) Btln., George McDonald entry, dated 1 March 1916; citing Record Group 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 4930 - 35. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.
2 “1881 Scotland Census,” database, Ancestry.com (htpp://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 May 2016), entry for George Macdonald [b.] abt 1874, Dornoch, Sutherland, Scotland.
3 "Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FQRF-R68 : accessed 23 May 2016), George Mcdonald, 20 Mar 1874; citing DORNOCH,SUTHERLAND,SCOTLAND, reference ; FHL microfilm 6,035,516.
4 "British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; 1992-1993", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FLRR-HJ5 : accessed 23 May 2016), George Mcdonald, 1951.
5 "British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; 1992-1993", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FLKN-6BJ : accessed 23 May 2016), Margaret Mcdonald, 1920.

1 comment:

  1. Well, whoever he is, his face has lots of character and tells of a full life.

    ReplyDelete