Manitoba Historical Society
     Keeping history alive for over 144 years

Memorable Manitobans: Donald Macdonald (1857-1912)

Click to enlarge

Donald Macdonald
Click to enlarge


He was born 9 January 1857 at Hanover, Ontario, son of Daniel MacDonald and Isabella Marshall. In 1881, he decided to move west and take up farming. He bought a half section of land near Grenfell, Saskatchewan and struggled for six years losing crop after crop to high winds and heat before deciding to move on. Using the knowledge he gained from farm steam engines, on 15 October 1887 he became a firefighter with the Winnipeg Fire Department.

Donald worked at all of the three original halls: the Central Hall at 347 William Avenue, and the South Hall at the corner of York Avenue and Smith Street and the North Hall at 56 Maple Street (now the Firefighter Museum). He spent the vast majority of his career the North Hall. Donald had the job of Engineer, responsible for the operation of steam-powered fire engines. Among the engines that he probably operated was the famous Alex Logan Steam Engine, which can be seen today at the museum. On the museum walls are photographs of many fires in the late 1800s and early 1900s which show the steam engines in operation, and undoubtedly Macdonald would have been one of the men operating them. He was also one of the men responsible for making viable the Firefighters Benevolent Fund, which supported the families of injured or deceased firefighters.

His home at 45 Lily Street is now called The Daniel MacDonald House. It is standing virtually unchanged since Winnipeg’s early years. His uncle, John Kay MacDonald, organized the Toronto-based Confederation Life, whose office building at 457 Main Street was built in 1912. His father was the Confederation Life agent for the area extending from Winnipeg to the Pacific ocean and to the far north. In January 1912, Macdonald was sent home, too sick to work. In mid-July he went to see Dr. Chown who sent him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with cancer. He died on 8 August 1912 at his residence, at the age of 55. In the local newspaper, Assistant Fire Chief William Code stated, “He was a good Engineer and a good fellow—one of the best.” He is buried at the St. James Cemetery.


This page was prepared by Rick Northwood using information from the Winnipeg Firefighters Museum and other sources.

Page revised: 29 March 2023

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

Search the collection by word or phrase, name, place, occupation or other text:

Custom Search

Browse surnames beginning with:
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Browse deaths occurring in:
1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022 | 2023 | 2024

Send corrections and additions to this page
to the Memorable Manitobans Administrator at

Criteria for Memorable Manitobans | Suggest a Memorable Manitoban | Firsts | Acknowledgements

Help us keep
history alive!

MHS YouTube Channel

Back to top of page

For queries on the above page, please contact the MHS Webmaster.

Home  |  Terms & Conditions  |  FAQ  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy  |  Donations

© 1998-2023 Manitoba Historical Society. All rights reserved.