Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Walter James Macdonald (1894-1959)


Born at Glasgow, Scotland on 13 February 1894, son of James Louden Macdonald and Jessie Foulds Orr, he was educated at Glasgow and Stirling before coming to Canada in 1911. Four years later, after training as a chartered accountant, he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and served overseas with the 44th Battalion. Mentioned in despatches, he rose to the rank of Captain and received the Military Medal and Military Cross and Bar for bravery and dedication to duty under fire.

In 1920, he and James Millar formed Millar Macdonald & Company, although Millar left the firm shortly thereafter to join the Maple Leaf Milling Company. It became the largest accounting firm in Winnipeg. In 1954, it merged with Deloitte, Plender, Haskins & Sells and he became the senior partner. He had a keen interest in the accounting profession and served on the Manitoba Institute Council for 30 years, including a term as President (1930-1932). He also served as President of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (1953-1954) and Chairman of the Manitoba Business Advisory Council (1956).

On 4 June 1923, he married Ruth Kerrigan Watson (1898-2000) at Winnipeg and they had one son, Peter John Watson Macdonald. Active in community affairs, he was a member of a Royal Commission to investigate flood protection measures in the valleys of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, President of the Manitoba Chamber of Mines, President of the Winnipeg YMCA, and a member of the board for Royal Trust Company (Winnipeg Board) and United College.

He died of a heart attack at Montreal, Quebec on 24 November 1959, while attending meetings there, and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.


Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.

Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Business council head quits,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 May 1956, page 3.

“Walter J. Macdonald, accountant, dies in east,” Winnipeg Free Press, 25 November 1959, page 5.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 27 November 1959, page 28.

Obituary [Ruth Watson Macdonald], Winnipeg Free Press, 22 January 2000, page 50.

Walter James Macdonald, Canada Veterans Hall of Valour.

We thank James Arnett and Peter Macdonald for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 6 May 2018

Memorable Manitobans

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