Our Duncans in Canada, by John Duncan

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Bairn's Table of Contents,

Cousin John Duncan's Introduction

updated 07 Feb 2016


Wence Many Went


Chapter 5, an Extract from

"We Are All Margaret Haldane's Bairns"

"By John Duncan,

"of Melbourn, Australia 2001"

Transcribed & Updated for the web,
by his American Cousin,
Colleen Cahoon, of Texas

You may submit questions or comments to John Duncan,
by emailing him at:
John Duncan at Jezzmo

Our Duncans in Canada

My Uncles,
James Duncan #18 and his younger brother,
Malcolm McMillan Duncan #21,
both emigrated to Canada,
James in 1910 and Malcolm in 1923.

Malcolm and Isabella seated;
Back: Elizabeth McMillan Duncan #17, James Duncan #18, Mary Duncan #15;
Dugald McMillan Duncan #20
[the compiler's father,] in Highland Dress<
Isabella Napier Stewart Duncan #16,Baby Malcolm McMillan Duncan #21, and Christine Duncan #14.

James Duncan.#18

Little is known about James other than he was born 07 April 1883, and I have his christening cup with this information, plus a photograph and oil-painting of him in a velvet suit. He married Catherine O’Neill #87, in Glasgow, who was born in 1882, and they had three children, Mamie Duncan #88 who died [in Glasgow?], Archibald Duncan #90, born c1904 and Cissie Duncan #89, born c1908, both the latter born in Glasgow.

Apparently James emigrated to Canada in 1910, and Catherine and the children followed him in 1911-12.

At some time he worked in the Dominion Linoleum Company, Montreal, and in the 1940’s the family lived at 1118 Shenneville Avenue, Montreal. I have been advised that Catherine worked at the Montreal General Hospital.

James died circa 1955-1964, and Catherine, in the 1950’s, both in Montreal.

Cissie was last sighted in Montreal in 1931, but no further information is available.

In 1945 Archibald Duncan lived at 1118 Shenneville Avenue and worked for Canada Car, and it is believed that he died circa 1970-1980. It is believed that Archibald had two daughters, Isabel and Catherine, and one son Arthur.

              Arthur Duncan #111 lived at 1118 Shenneville Avenue, in the 1940’s and was employed as a labourer.

              Isabel Duncan #112 lived at 1118 Shenneville Avenue, in the 1940’s and was employed at Mount Royal Hotel, 1945/47.

              Catherine Duncan #113 was born 1947, in Montreal and lived at 1118 Shenneville Avenue.

Most of this advice was received by me from a Montreal professional genealogist in the late 1980’s.

Malcolm McMillan Duncan

The following article was written in the newspaper, The Expositor, Brantford, Canada on Remembrance Day, 11 Nov 1998:

    "I was a likely-looking lad,” said 96-year-old Malcolm Duncan with his rumbling Scottish accent.

    Still sturdy and strong, the Brantford man recalled the Glasgow day, 82 years ago, when he was hired on as an assistant steward in the British Merchant Service.

    It was April 1917, and Duncan had recently turned 15, He’d left school and was determined to find work to help support his newly-widowed mother, his first trip up the gangway, of the S.S. Crown of Galicia, when the shore [chief?] steward told him to go back to school.

    But on the way off ship, he met a “gentleman with a limp” who asked where he was going. When Duncan told of his failure to get a job, the man looked hard at him and told him to come back up the gangplank.

    Duncan was signed on that day. Little did he know his service aboard a First World War cargo ship would later earn him discharge papers, two medals and the honour of being a veteran of the Great War.

    “I didn’t join thinking I’d be a veteran. I went because I needed a job,” Duncan said. Sadly, over the years he lost both his discharge papers and his medals, which he left in a drawer in his brother’s home, in Montreal.

    During his 20-month stint aboard ship, Duncan saw much of the world. His cargo ship sailed across the Atlantic and Pacific, through the Panama Canal, up the east and west coasts of North America, along the west coast of Africa, through the West Indies, and home to the dockyards of Scotland and England.

    All manner of cargo was loaded and unloaded, to aid the war effort, as well as supply the domestic economies of Allied nations, with much needed oil, coal, ammunition and foodstuffs, such as canned goods and sugar.

    Cargo ships travelled in convoys and were escorted through submarine zones by heavily gunned naval vessels, Duncan said.

    When the war ended, Duncan’s ship was docked at a small port on the North Sea coast of Scotland and he was among a number of seamen, suffering from Spanish flu, who were taken ashore by stretchers to a hospital run by the American Red Cross.

    Duncan recovered and when he and some other men began the land journey home, carrying their sea-bags, they were greeted with cheers everywhere they went. “We didn’t know what they were cheering for,” said Duncan, who still didn’t think of himself as a war hero.

   â€œThe excitement went on for weeks at war’s end,” he said. He finally realised that he’d made a contribution, when he received a packet in the mail, containing his service medals.

    After the war, Duncan signed on an Australian ship and spent time down under, before emigrating to Canada, in 1923.

    He spent his working years managing large farms, including one on Tutela Heights Road, and producing award-winning crops of grain and raising prize-winning cattle. Later he worked as an inspector of farm produce and finally retired at the age of 66.

    Duncan attributes his long life to years of healthy hard work, on farms and his philosophy of “always thankful.” He said he always “took things as they came along,” in life, and despite his emphasis on healthful living, he also admits using tobacco in various forms since he was 15, be it cigarettes, snuff, chewing tobacco, or now, in his tenth decade, indulging in the occasional cigar.

Malcolm McMillan Duncan Continued.

After his service in the British Mercantile Marine during the 1914-1918 World War, Malcolm emigrated to Canada in 1923, and was married on 27 April 1921, to Laura Mathieson #123 in Montreal, where attended by his brother, James Duncan and his wife Catherine Duncan.

They have four daughters:

          1] Joyce Anne McRae Matheson Duncan #127, who now lives at Brantford, near Toronto, was born on 27 Mar 1932, at Simcoe, Ontario. She was married on 17 Sep 1955, at Brantford, to Arthur John Peacock #133, who was born on 31 Aug 1931 in Toronto, to an English father and a North American Indian mother. They were divorced in May, 1972.


              1] Living Son.

              2] Living Son.

          2] Isabella Mary Duncan #124, who now lives at Richmond Hill, Ontario, was born at Jarvis, Canada in 1933, and was married in 1935 at Brantford, to Harold Francis Robinson #136, who was born in Toronto in 1928.


              1] Living Daughter and son-in-law.

              2] Living Daughter and son-in-law.


                           1] Living Son.

                           2] Living Daughter.

3] Christina McKenzie Duncan #126, who now lives at Brantford, was born at Simcoe, Ontario on 22 Oct 1935, and was married on 08 Dec 1955, at Brantford, to Ronald Thomas #128 born 16 Sep 1934, at Toronto.


              1] Living Daughter and son-in-law.


                           1] Living Daughter.

                           2] Living Daughter.

          4] Laura, who now lives in Brantford, was born in 1938, at Iona Station, Ontario and was married in Brantford, on 02 Jun 1956 to Ralph Ellis Campbell #143, who was born 1937 at Brantford.


              1] Living Son and daughter-in-law.


                           1] Living Daughter.

                           2] Living Son.

              2] Living Son.


                           1] Living Son.

                           2] Living Daughter.

                           3] Living Son.

                           4] Living Son.

Sadly Malcolm died on 01 Mar 1999 and Laura, his wife in 1997.

Vale Malcolm McMillan Duncan.

Malcolm was a long-time member of the First Baptist Church and a Life Member of St. Mark’s Lodge #94 A.F.A.M.G.R.C. Port Stanley and a Past Master and Life Member of The Ozias Lodge #508 G.R.C. and an affiliated member of Reba Lodge #515 A.F.A.M.G.R.C. and was also a veteran of the First World War.

He is survived by his four daughters, ten grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren, and seven step-great-grandchildren.

Compiler’s (John Duncan's) Notes:

1] I received the advice, reference Canadians Isabel, Arthur, and Catherine, from a Montreal Genealogist. The “family” relationship, is merely my interpretation of this advice.

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