MacLEAN (McLean), DONALD CHARLES, HBC employee, farmer, militia officer, and justice of the peace; b. 1786 in Argyllshire, Scotland, d. 1873 at Eardley, Que.
Donald Charles MacLean came to Hudson Bay in July 1813, having been contracted by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a “shallop master.” He served as mate of the schooner Mainwaring until it was decommissioned in 1815. Early in 1816, after the HBC ships had become ice-bound in Hudson Bay, he accompanied George Gladman*, the chief factor at Moose Factory, on a hazardous, two-month, overland journey to Montreal with the company “Indents and papers,” which were destined for London. They started out with six others but four were forced to turn back within a week of their departure from Moose Factory. Alternate freezing and thawing conditions caused the travellers to become fatigued and frequently to lose their direction. MacLean fell through the ice on at least two occasions, but he and the other three men completed the trip with little or no adverse effects. Upon the expiration of his contract with the HBC in July 1816, MacLean joined the North West Company as a ship’s master on the upper Great Lakes.
In 1820 he married Annie Warren of Fort Erie and within a year quit the company and journeyed to Scotland. He returned in 1824 accompanied by his wife, his son, his father, and ten brothers, sisters, and cousins. They all settled on a 1,500-acre grant in Eardley Township, Lower Canada. In the early 1830s MacLean left the family homestead and settled in Lochaber Township. He was appointed justice of the peace for Lochaber in 1833, a post which he held intermittently for about 15 years. In 1837 he was appointed captain of the Two Mountains Loyal Volunteer Cavalry. They were on call during the rebellion in Lower Canada, and in 1838–39 were paid for general service, mostly involving escort and dispatch duties. MacLean moved back to Eardley during the 1850s; there he farmed, operated a lumber mill, and served as justice of the peace for a short time. He and his wife raised ten children. Although a member of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, he was buried in the cemetery of the Church of England at Eardley.
Donald MacLean was typical of thousands of courageous pioneers who left their homeland to immigrate to British North America and settle in the wilderness.
HBC Arch. A.1/51 (Minute books, 1814); A.5/7 (London correspondence books outward, General series, 1824); A.16/17 (Officers’ and servants’ ledgers, Moose, 1791–1822); A.30/14 (Lists of servants in Hudson Bay, 1798–1816); A.32/18 (Servants’ contracts, 1813); A.32/41–43 (Servants’ contracts, MacE-MacV); B.3/a/119b (Albany, Post journal, 1815–16: “Journal of a journey from Albany and Moose Factorys in Hudson’s Bay to London . . . by George Gladman”); B.135/e/3 (Report for Moose District, 1815–1816, by Joseph Beioly); C.1/298 (log of Eddystone, 1813); C.1/302 (log of Eddystone, 1815); F.4/32 (North West Company ledger, 1811–21). PAC, RG 4, B36 (Provincial Red Book, 1845); RG 8, I, B5, 1039, 1.044. Census of the Canadas, 1851–2 (2v., Quebec, 1853–55), I. Census of the Canadas, 1860–61 (2v., Quebec, 1863–64), I. Census of Canada, 1870–71 (5v., Ottawa, 1873–78). Langelier, Lands granted in Quebec, 1763–1890. Lovell’s Province of Quebec directory for 1871 (n.p., n.d.). Mitchell’s Canada Gazetteer and business directory for 1864–65 (Toronto, 1864). Cyrus Thomas, History of the counties of Argenteuil, Que., and Prescott, Ont., from the earliest settlement to the present (Montreal, 1896).