Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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MCDONALD, ALEXANDER, farmer, landowner, and militia officer; b. Argyll, Scotland, c1762; m. Grace McLean; d. Bartibog, 11 Dec 1834.

Alexander McDonald served in the 76th Foot Regiment (Macdonald's Highlanders) during the American Revolutionary War and was among soldiers of the regiment who were disbanded at Shelburne, N.S., in 1783. He settled on the Miramichi the next year and was later successful in acquiring around 1400 acres in land grants. For many years he made his home near Black River, but late in life he erected one of the most remarkable rural residences in the county at Bartibog. This house was built of local stone, with a slate roof. It had six heating fireplaces and a huge cooking hearth in the kitchen.

McDonald held a number of appointments at the parish level, including those of trustee of schools and overseer of the poor. The fact that he was also town clerk and clerk of the market for Newcastle parish indicates that he was one of the leading farmers of the district. His most notable public role was that of commanding officer of the 1st Battalion of militia, from 1813 to 1829. He was a major in 1813 when the battalion was inspected by Lieut. Col. Joseph Gubbins (q.v.), and he retained this rank throughout the period of his command. References after 1829 to Lieut. Col. McDonald imply that he was given an honorary promotion upon retirement. During the last ten years of his life he withdrew from most public activities and transferred much of his property to two of his sons. He and his wife, Grace McLean, who died only three weeks after he did, had thirteen children.

Tribute was paid the uniqueness of the McDonald house in 1974 when it and the lands surrounding it were opened to the public by the provincial government as the "McDonald Farm Historic Park." The existence of the house was also sufficient to earn McDonald an entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography.


[d] Gleaner 30 Dec 1834 / Curtis; DCB; Facey-Crowther; Gubbins; Royal Gazette 21 Jan 1835