Archives provinciales du Nouveau-Brunswick

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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MCKAY, DONALD (1786-1861)

MCKAY, DONALD, farmer, lumberman, boom master, and JP; b. St Mary's parish, York County, N.B., c1786, s/o Robert McKay; m. 1815, Zilpha Rogers, of North Esk parish; d. there, 18 Mar 1861.

Donald McKay was one of four sons of a disbanded soldier of the 42nd Regiment to migrate from the Nashwaak River settlement to North Esk parish between 1800 and 1810. The land on which he settled was formerly part of the Eel Ground Indian reserve. At this location he cultivated one of the best farms in the parish. When the first agricultural exhibitions were held in the county he and his family carried off the lion's share of the prizes won by North Esk residents. He also played an important part in the lumber industry. He was a lumber contractor and the boom master for many years on the Northwest branch, and he was one of the only Nor'westers to own a sailing vessel. This was the schooner Huldah, which he and his brother Robert McKay launched in 1829.

McKay was appointed a justice of the peace in 1824. As the only North Esk magistrate between that date and 1838, he came to be known as 'Squire McKay'. His appointment was confirmed under a new commission in 1855, and he retained it until his death six years later. For many years he was one of a handful of older magistrates in the county who were also licensed to solemnize marriages.

McKay had a great many appointments at the parish level including, in the earlier period, those of overseer of the poor and trustee of schools. He was a captain in the 2nd Battalion of militia from 1825, and he still held this rank in 1850. He was a member of the committee which supervised the construction of St James Presbyterian Church in Newcastle after the contract was let in 1828. He was an executive member of the first local agricultural society at its formation around 1824, and he was a director of the Northumberland Agricultural Society in 1851. In 1853 he was a director of the Highland Society. McKay Brook, on the Northwest Miramichi, derives its name from him.

McKay and his wife, Zilpha Rogers, raised a family of at least eleven children. Their son Ebenezer R. McKay was a successful lumberman at Ashland, Maine, and their son G. Allen McKay was head of McKay & Co., a large lumber firm in Eureka, California.


[m] official records [d] Advocate 23 Mar 1861 / Advocate 16 Jun 1886; Facey-Crowther; Gleaner 3 Feb 1851, 17 Jan 1853, 11 Aug 1855; Hamilton (NE); Leader 6 Jul 1956; Manny Collection (F22); Manny (Ships); NB Almanac & Reg.; Rayburn


Ida McKay, a daughter of Allen McKay, married James J. Loggie, a brother of Alexander J. Loggie and Thomas G. J. Loggie. James J. Loggie succeeded his father-in-law as president of McKay & Co.