User:Tim/Letters of Donald MacLean, Fort William, Ontario to Lachlan McLean, Brooke Township, Lambton, Ontario, Canada


Fort William June 27th 1913

Mr. L MacLean

Dear Cousin,

We received your very kind letter this afternoon we were glad to hear that you are all well. I am sure you would be surprised to hear of Lachie’s death we can hardly realize it that one so strong and healthy should be cut off so quickly. You see he went to the town of Weyburn Sask. Had been there a couple of months, arranged to build a factory and got into a couple of good real estate propositions and had he lived no doubt would have made a lot of money. On Sunday night June 1st he was coming home from Church it started to rain he ran part of the way to the house where he was staying, after a short time he complained of pain, it was so severe they sent for doctor, he did not examine him very carefully, said it was just Belly Ache, gave him pills and a heavy dose of salts the very worst thing that could be done. On Monday morning he was no better they called in another doctor. He diagnosed the trouble as Appendicitis not dangerous. Lachie asked him to call John, who is settled in Swift Current. John was too late for the flier, the fast train, it had just gone, so he did not get to Weyburn until Tuesday morning at 11:25. The doctor met the train and took John in Automobile to house. As soon as John examined him he pronounced it a serious case of ruptured appendix and peronitis and phoned the Hospital to have things made ready for an operation. John had two other doctors called in they said it was appendicitis but did not think it was ruptured. Lachie was operated on before 1 o’clock and it was just as John said, ruptured appendix. Hugh was on way over from Regina but too late to see operation, John did not think it safe to wait for him. John stayed with Lachie until Friday and he seemed to be improving and in good spirits so he went back to Swift Current, leaving the CPR doctor in charge. On Saturday night he received a Phone that Lachie had taken a bad turn. John and Hugh both went to him called the Best Doctors from Moose Jaw & Regina, wired us and we went up then called in the best surgeon in Western Canada, Dr Blenchford of Winnipeg. They couldn’t do anything for him, his bowels refused to work, everything was done that we could think of, he had to go. He was conscious up till the last two days before he died. The minister splike to him he told the minister he was prepared to die. Three hours before he died he asked Mother to sing the hymn they sang for Father. Mother asked which one was that, he said Nearer My God to Thee, and asked her to sing, she tried, he then sang it himself. Kissed us all good Bye and said he would meet us in Heaven.

Fort William Oct 31st 1935

My dear cousin & family

I hope this letter finds you all well. I did intend to write sooner and thank you all for your kindness to me while I was there, I enjoyed my visit in the East very much, meeting so many people I had not seen for years. I was so pleased to see your Uncle Hugh looking so well at his age. After leaving you I visited Mrs. Campbell in Brantford. She was well. After leaving there I stayed in Toronto for a week. The second day I was there I met an old friend of mine from Fort William and we chummed around together all the time I was there.

When I came back and went to work I went on the passenger train made vacant by that accident when the gasoline truck got in the way of the passenger train. I am assigned to a first Class run now. The only thing I do not like about it is that it is a night run. I am on the road every night in the month except five nights that are give to another man.

The elections are over and the liberals are elected by a very large majority and if they do not make good the country the next election will more that likely try CCF or Social Credit. Our member here Dr Mamion Minister of Railways & Canals who had represented this riding for eighteen years was defeated and he felt very bad over his defeat. He thought he had a sure win here.

Business on the road has slowed up due to a big snow storm in the West, so the Company have laid off quite a number of men, the weather is very mild, raining the last two days. Cold weather is predicted for tomorrow. I hope it is not cold for a while yet, we always get plenty of cold weather up in this country.

I have not had a letter from the boys for a long time so I figure they are all well. Hugh ran on a CCF ticket in Regina and was defeated. Premier Gardiner wanted him to run as a Liberal in the Provincial elections but he decided to stay with the CCF with above result.

I will now close hoping you are all enjoying good health and would be pleased to hear from you when you can find time to write.

Your Affectionate Cousin Donald MacLean Room 34 YMCA Fort William Ont

D. McLean Y.M.C.A Fort William Ont. Dec 20th 1937

Dear Cousin & Family

Xmas is here again and the older we get the faster they seem to come around. And I sincerely hope that your family and Uncle Hugh are enjoying good health. I am feeling fine and that is a lot to be thankful for. My brothers Drs Hugh & John and their families are all well. I saw by the papers that you had real winter weather down there, lots of snow. We had a nice fall and winter up until now. It turned cold yesterday, it was twenty below zero when I left Ignace last night and it was twelve below when I got in this morning. We could stand a foot more snow, it would be better for men in the bush getting out Pulp and ties, Navigation being closed that closes the elevators, the only things operating now are the Pulp & Paper Mills & Air Plane Plant. The course the city looks Bright and the stores are busy people doing their Xmas shopping.

Well Lachlan I must close Wishing you and the Family a Very Merry Xmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year Your Affectionate Cousin Donald MacLean Room 34 Y.M.C.A. Fort William Ont.

Room 34 Y.M.C.A. Fort William, Ont Dec 18th 1938

Mr. Lachie MacLean & family Dear Cousin

I was pleased to receive your letter, was sorry to hear that Christenia is not feeling very well, I sincerely hope that her health will improve and that she will become healthy and strong. I was not surprised that Uncle Hugh had gone to rest he lived to a ripe old age, he was a fine type of man and a real Christian Gentleman.

I was pleased to learn that you had good crops this year. It would have been better if the prices were high so that you would have received a fair return for your labor in preparing, caring for and Harvesting the crops.

Navigation is closed. Elevators and Railroads are laying off men and most of them with long years of service. You have to be a long time with a Company now to hold a job.

I am not affected very much as I am on a regular passenger run. The weather has been mild for this part of the country and I am working steady, if it turns very cold next month I will take the month off as I usually do. My back bothers me a lot in cold weather, sometimes I can hardly put my clothes on.

John wants me to go to California for the winter. Hugh is down there now nearly a year, and likes it fine. He left Regina with the intention of living a retired life, he changed his mind, bought a fine home and opened an office and is getting along well.

In these troubled times we should be thankful for good health plenty to eat and a good warm place to sleep. Remember me to the rest of the family and friends. I will close wishing you all a Very Merry Xmas and a Happy & Prosperous New Year. Yours, Sincerely Donald

YMCA Fort William Dec 17th 1939

To Lachlan McLean & Family

Dear Cousin,

The time of year has come again when we begin to think of old friends and the good times we used to have together. I sincerely hope that you have all enjoyed good health during the past year. I am feeling very good and working steady and thankful for that. I am now the senor man working on main line out of this station. The one man who was ahead of me is very sick the doctors give him three months to live. He is only 57 yrs old. Five others had to be retired. Two account of bad hearing other three ill health, all between the ages of 57-63, so you see each year make a lot of changes amongst the workers and friends. My brother John had a serious operation the beginning of November he is home now and expects to start practicing again after Xmas. The rest of our friends her are well.

We have had the longest spell of mild weather for this time of year that there is any record of, raining a little just now. All people talk about now is the war situation.

The fourth Field Ambulance Corps left here the other night. Thousands of city folk and friends were at station to see them off. This war is a serious thing and thousands of lives will be lost before it is over.

Remember me to my friends. I will close now Wishing You and family a Very Merry Xmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Your Affectionate Cousin Donald Room 34 YMCA Fort William, Ont.

Room 34 Y.M.C.A. Fort William Ont.

Dec 17th 1940

Dear Cousin Lachlan

Christmas is drawing near and the older we get the faster the time seems to roll away and it makes us think of the past and our old friends. I sincerely hope you have all enjoyed good health the past year, I did intend to take a Holiday this last summer and go down and see you all but I kept on working, If I am well I will go down and visit with you next summer. I may go to Vancouver for a while this winter.

I cannot go down South with the boys, as the Government won’t allow me to take any money out of the Country. This War has upset everything. One feels very sorry for the people in the old Country, the ordeal they are going through, with Bombs dropping on them, destroying life and property, the Aircraft has proved to be a curse instead of a blessing to the Human race. John, Hugh and their families are all well the rest of our friends here also are enjoying good health.

Navigation is closed, the weather has been very cold lately sometimes around twenty below zero. The Railroads are quite busy handling troops and war material and will keep up as long as the war lasts. I will close now Wishing You all a Very Merry Xmas and a Happy & Prosperous New Year, from Your Affectionate Cousin Donald MacLean Room 34 Y.M.C.A. Fort William Ont.

Room 34 Y.M.C.A. Fort William Ont. Dec 20th 1941

Dear Cousin Lachie & Family

This is the usual Xmas letter and I hope it finds you all enjoying good health. I am on the retired list now. I made my last trip on Nov. 30h. My brother John flew up from Los Angeles so as to ride down with me on my last trip. I have a clipping I cut out of our paper to enclose with this letter so you can read about it. John was only here two days. He was in a big hurry to get back to Sunny California. I went back with him as far as Regina. We flew from Winnipeg to Regina that was my first trip up in the Air and I liked it very well. John was there one day. I was there two days. We visited with Hugh’s three daughters. They are all married and have families, two of their husbands are in the Army, Marion’s doing Plastic Surgery in England & Margaret’s is in the Air Force. He is in Calgary. Isabel’s husband is a Jeweller in Regina. Hugh & Wife are living in Los Angeles, he started to Practice there and likes it fine. I have not decided just where I will settle down.

About the middle of next month I intend to take a trip out to Vancouver, and if I like it I will stay there until spring then I will come back take a trip East and pay you all a visit. I am feeling fine and can hardly believe that I am pensioned off. All our friends here are well. It has been very cold the last week but is turning milder to-night. Remember me to my friends there. Will close now Wishing you all a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. From Your Affectionate Cousin Donald.

P.S. The picture of me was taken two years ago.

Enclosed article – Nov 30th 1941

2 Veteran Railway Men Retire From the C.P.R.

Having completed almost 92 years of continuous service with the Canadian Pacific Railway between them, two well known local veteran railroaders, today started life on the retired list. Both had the distinct honor, during their railroading career, to be chosen to take the Royal trains out of Fort William at the time of the visit here of Their Majesties, King George and Queen Elizabeth, in May 1939.

The two veterans, who today are receiving the congratulations of their fellow employees and officials of the company are Engineer Donald MacLean, a resident of the Y.M.C.A. here for many years, and Conductor Albert Cooper, a member of the Cooper family in Fort William. Both made their final runs over the week-end and now are retired on pensions.

Engineer MacLean has completed more than 43 years of service and Conductor Cooper 48 years of service. Both started their railroading career in Fort William and worked from the bottom up.

When the C.P.R. passenger train pulled into the C.P.R. depot here yesterday morning at 6:33 o’clock Engineer MacLean was at the throttle of the big No. 2850 locomotive. Incidentally the same engine was used to haul the Royal train west out of here.

After turning over his big iron horse to the roundhouse Engineer MacLean packed up his bag and said good-bye to the boys. It was his last trip. He walked home, however, with some reluctance as he always enjoyed railroading and could not realize that he had finally made his last trip.

A brother, Dr. John MacLean, surgeon, of Los Angeles, California, and a former resident in Fort William, had the honor of riding to Fort William on the same train yesterday morning. Dr. MacLean flew from Los Angeles to Winnipeg and hopped on Train No. 4 so that he would be able to ride on his brother’s final trip over the rails from Ignace.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Donald MacLean came to Canada at an early age with his family. They settled in eastern Ontario and two years prior to coming to Fort William he sailed the Great Lakes. He was with the Beatty line and sailed on the S.S. Monarch as a watchman.

In September, 1898, the Monarch sailed into Fort William. Donald MacLean saw the railroad activity here and immediately became interested. He quit sailing and on September 26, 1898, he started with the C.P.R.

He first started as a wiper in the shops and the next year he got his start running. He fired an engine in 1899 and in 1903 was promoted to engineer and has held this position until his retirement yesterday. For many years he piloted freight and passenger trains but in 1934 he was promoted to the regular passenger run west of here to Ignace. For some years he was on trains No. 2 and 3 and lately he was on trains No. 1 and 4.

During his active career besides having the honour of hauling the Royal train and trains carrying such dignitaries as President Beatty and governor-generals, he was in charge of the engine with pulled the first passenger out of the new C.P.R. depot when it was completed after being moved from the corner of Bethune and Hardisty streets.

Mr. MacLean is well known here especially in railroad circles. He is described as one of the best. Best wishes for a long retired life of health and happiness are being extended to him by all who know him.

Mr. MacLean plans to spend a great part of his retired life right in Fort William. “I like Fort William and the weather here is pretty hard to beat, “ he told the Times-Journal today. However he plans to take periodic trips, hoping to spend a time on the west coast and also in Los Angeles, having a standing invitation from his brothers, who are living there.

Y.M.C.A. Fort William Dec 17th 1942

To Lachie and Family

Dear Cousins, you see by this letter that I am still in Fort William. I have been talking of going to Vancouver since last summer. I may go out there some time next month. The Company have cancelled all Passes until January 5th so as to make room on the trains for the troops during the Holidays and I think that was a good Idea, as a lot of those boys may not have another chance to spend Xmas at home. We have a lot to be thankful for when I think of the misery and suffering of the People in the war torn countries of the World. We should not grumble but be very thankfull for the comforts and privileges we have.

I hope your health has improved you should take things a little easier now, you were a strong man and worked hard all your life so now you are entitled to take it easy in your old age.

I hope all your family are enjoying good health and you will all have a Very Merry Xmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

John, Hugh and family are all well, the weather has been very cold here this Winter. The tugs are kept busy breaking the Ice in the river here so boats can move to the different elevators. I think navigation will be closed next week, as they keep bringing in the lighthouse Keepers.

I have had very good health until the last few weeks when I caught a cold and have a hard time trying to shake it. It is over a year since I made the last trip working for the CP Railway, and my how fast the year has passed, I will close now again Wishing you all a Very Merry Xmas and a Happy & Prosperous New Year from Your Affectionate Cousin Donald MacLean Room 35 Y.M.C.A. Fort William, Ontario

Y.M.C.A. Fort William Ont Dec 17th 1943

Dear Lachlan

It will soon be Xmas, the time goes by very fast, I hope things have gone well with you all during the year. There is a lot of people sick with the flue. Quite a number in this building has it. I have escaped it so far and I am very thankfull for that, I was out to Vancouver & Victoria last summer, I liked the place and the scenery but the damp air seemed to cause a tightness in my chest. May be if I was there longer I might get used to it, and it would not bother me. I may try it again. The rest of the MacLeans’s are enjoying very good health. How have you been keeping, I hope all the rest of your family are well.

I will close Wishing you, your family and their children a Merry Xmas and a Happy & Prosperous New Year.

Your Affectionate Cousin Donald MacLean Room 35 Y.M.C.A. Fort William Ont.

Room 35 YMCA Fort William Dec 15th 1944

Dear Lachie

The usual Xmas letter and I hope it finds you and the family all well, Time seems to move along very fast, it don’t seem long since last Xmas. I went down to Los Angeless last March and came back in June. When I left here everything was frozen up when got down there it was a pleasant sight to see the Orange trees loaded with fruit and up in hills where Hugh lives the side of road & gardens banked with beautiful flowers. The Weather there was just like our summers here.

I spent my holiday between Hugh’s home and John’s and had a good time, they kept telling to spend my money and enjoy myself, each of them gave me money to spend although I told them I did not need it. I am not the spending type. The result was I had more American money coming back than I had going down. They both wrote me a couple of weeks ago asking me to go down there right away. Their families are all well. I am thinking of going down there again sometime in January the only thing I don’t like about it is the long train ride and the trains are so crowded.

That was a bad snow storm they had in Eastern Ontario, did you get much snow out your way? We haven’t enough snow up here to cover the ground although it is cold but not too bad for this time of year in this part of the country.

Did Dan McDonald lose his job in the liquor store with the change of government!

Navigation is closed but there is plenty of work for anyone who wants it. Well I must close remember me to my friends and I wish you all a Very Merry Xmas and a Happy & Prosperous New Year from your Affectionate Cousin Donald MacLean.

Room 34 YMCA Fort William Ont. Nov 24th 1945

Dear Cousin

I am writing you a little earlier this year, as I figure on going to California to spend the winter. I am leaving here the first week in December. I will stay a few days in Vancouver and will be in Los Angeles before the 21st of Dec. Hugh flew up to Regina the last of Sept. I went up to see him he flew back the 8th of Oct. and I came home, he talked me into going down there for the winter and that was not hard to do. Although I did think of going to Florida. I dread the long cold winter we have here, you see my circulation is bad I have to walk slow, and when I am out I find it hard to keep warm. Hugh’s family are married well and living in Regina. Hugh, John and their families are well. All our relations as far as I know are in fairly good health. I did intend to go down there this last summer, but the heavy passenger traffic made accommodation bad, so I put it off, but may be able to make it next summer if all is well.

I hope this letter finds you feeling well and your family all enjoying good health. The war may be considered over, but the labor troubles is holding up the piece. There is a lot of unemployment here and the problem is what to do with them, they made big money in the War plants and spent most of it, and it looks as if they will have a hard time this winter.

I am going to stay with Hugh, 206 Bronwood Ave. Los Angeles.

I will close wishing you all a Very Merry Xmas and a Happy & Prosperous New Year

Your Affectionate Cousin Donald

2039 W 68th St. Los Angeles Cal.

Dear Cousin Lachie & Family, You will see by this letter that I am in California. I came down earlier than I had intended to. On the 16th of last month, I received a wire from Hugh that John was very sick, so I had to leave Fort William in a hurry, he was in the Hospital when I got here, and he was very pleased to see me, he came home shortly after I arrived, he had four blood transfusions and has been slowly improving ever since, now he is beginning to feel like his old self again, and now gone to the Office for a couple of hours in the Afternoon. The rest of John’s family are enjoying good health.

Hugh and Wife are well they are going to fly to New Zealand on Feb 14th and coming back by boat, they will be away about six months. I am feeling very good, I like the Climate here. It is just like the summers in Fort William. I hope your knee is getting better. They all wish to be remembered to you and family and Sincerely Wish You all a Very Merry Xmas and a Happy & Prosperous New Year. Your Affectionate Cousin Donald

Montgomery Apts. Hotel 429 Pender St Vancouver B.C. December 15th 1947

Mr. Lachie McLean R7 Watford Ontario

Dear Cousin,

Another year has rolled around and this is the usual Xmas letter, You see at this time I am writing from Vancouver. I have been out here a little over two months. They get a lot of rain here, but there is one thing in its favor it never gets very cold. I think I will stay here all winter instead of going to California. I was down there last Winter. I am feeling very good as long as I take it easy and walk slow and I just do that. My Brother Hugh quit practicing Medicine last Xmas and on Feb 12th he and his wife flew to New Zealand then to Australia and back up to Regina the back to Los Angeles. They were away nearly four months and enjoyed their trip very much. John is still working. They are all well. I hope you are all well and enjoying good health. Remember me to all your family. I thought of going down to see you last summer but I kept putting it off, the same as I did about getting married until it was too late. If you or one of the family write address it General Delivery Vancouver B.C, and I will get it at the Post Office. I will now close wishing you all a Very Merry Xmas and a Happy & Prosperous New Year Your Affectionate Cousin Donald McLean General Delivery Vancouver B.C.

Hotel Patricia 403-411 Hastings St. East Vancouver B.C.

Dec 17th 1949

Dear Rachel

You know this Xmas time of year fond memory brings the light of other days around you, so while I was writing letters and Xmas cards, my mind turned to my boyhood days down there on the farm and the changes that have taken place since that time. And I wondered how things were going with you John, Alex and the rest of the family. Is Dan McDonald living yet I know he had heart trouble but like myself we sometimes stick around for quite a while.

You would see by the papers where we had heavy rains a couple of flash floods and a couple of bridges were washed out. The bridges and roads have been repaired and things are running smooth again. Hugh’s wife flew up here to attend her brother George Weir’s funeral. She told me the other day that Hugh was coming up for Xmas, we expect him to fly in any day now. They always travel by air. I prefer the train. So I will be having Xmas dinner with them at their daughter Margarets. I don’t expect they will stay here very long as they like plenty of sunshine, and you don’t get much of that up here in the winter time, although it don’t get very cold. I hope you are all enjoying good health and that you Have a Very Merry Xmas & a Happy & Prosperous New Year, from Your Cousin Donald McLean Patricia Hotel 403 Hastings St. E. Van. B.C.