Brother Donald McLean – One Of Our Veterans

Deceased Brethren

Donald McLean (1870-1945) was a mine manager in Ladysmith in the early 20th century.

He enlisted, aged 45, in the Canadian army during the First World War, where he was in a tunneling unit on the Western Front.  He moved to Vancouver after being discharged from the Canadian army in 1918.

Corporal Donald McLean in Canadian military uniform, circa1916 (photo courtesy of Shannon Nadasdy)
Corporal Donald McLean in Canadian military uniform, circa 1916 (photo courtesy of Shannon Nadasdy)

Corporal Donald McLean (standing) in Canadian military uniform, circa1916. The other soldier is unidentified. (photo courtesy of Shannon Nadasdy)
Corporal Donald McLean (standing) in Canadian military uniform, circa 1916. The other soldier is unidentified. (photo courtesy of Shannon Nadasdy)

Here are some newspaper articles about Donald McLean:

“Mr. Andrew McMurtrie, of Ladysmith, received a telegram from his sister, Mrs. D McLean, of Vancouver, stating that she had been notified from Ottawa that her husband, Donald McLean, has been officially reported missing since June 2 [1916]. Donald McLean was known to almost every man, woman and child in Ladysmith, and if he has made the supreme sacrifice, the sorrow will be universal, but the hope that he has escaped with his life, oven if he should be a prisoner in the hands of the enemy, will be general. Mr. McLean was a man of above average ability, and he held one of the highest mine manager certificates in Canada. Apart from that he was a student of scientific subjects and could converse Intelligently on almost any question.”

(Source: Ladysmith Chronicle, 16 June 1916)


Corporal Donald McLean. formerly of Ladysmith. had the unpleasant experience of being a German prisoner for the short period of five minutes. He was stripped of his clothing and $16, which he had taken from him. He was placed behind a pile of sandbags, and a few minutes later a shell buried him in the bags. After remaining unconscious for a few hours, he managed to work his way out, and discovered that he eras quite as near the 62nd regiment as the Germans, so he made a race for the Canadian regiment and got free. An examination showed that he had two wounds. He was given a new suit of clothing and sent back to the hospital.”

(Source: Ladysmith Chronicle, 1916, date unconfirmed)

“Visited Ladysmith

Corporal Donald McLean, who returned from France several weeks ago, and has since been receiving medical attention at the military hospital in Vancouver, was a visitor to Ladysmith on Thursday and Friday. While here he met many old friends who were pleased to see him back. Corporal McLean had many thrilling stories to tell of his experiences and narrow escapes at the battle front. On one occasion he was buried for the greater part of a day and it was only by a miracle that he escaped suffocation and death. His duties were mostly in tunneling and his thorough knowledge of mining made him a valuable man for this work. He speaks highly of the spirit of the Canadian troops and has many amusing stories to relate of the bravery of the men in action. He had a good word for the great work being done by the Y. M. C. A. organisation, and was emphatic in expressing the belief that every Canadian soldier who had been in France would indorse his remarks in this respect. He left for his home at Vancouver yesterday, but expects to make another visit to Ladysmith in the near future.”

(Source: Ladysmith Chronicle May 18, 1918, page 1)

Donald McLean is buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, B.C.

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