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Donald McCaig
Famous educationist in 19th Century Canada

Donald McCaig of Collingwood, Ontario, Canada.

Donald was born to Scottish parents in Cape Breton, May 15th, 1832. He was taken to Hamilton in 1836 and then the family moved to Wellington County in 1840. He attended Normal School and taught in Rockwood, Berlin, Galt, and Ottawa. In 1886 Donald was appointed Inspector of Public Schools for Algonia and Parry Sound, Ontario.


James and Catherine Taylor McCaig's eldest son Donald (born May 15, 1832) was Inspector of Schools in Algoma district and is author of a book of poems. Donald, after finishing his schooling at the little log cabin school, went on to Toronto, and graduated from the Toronto Normal School in November, 1858, with the highest honours of his year.

He taught in Wellington Co until 1864, when he and Alexander McMillan rented the Rockwood Academy from William Wetherald continuing the high standards set by their predecessor. They added a large classroom to the building, extra dormitories, and a stone gymnasium. The number of students enrolled rivalled that of Dr. Tassie's school in Galt, and Upper Canada College in Toronto. During his tenure as principal of the Academy, Donald McCaig did some writing. One of his books, 'The Reply to John Stuart Mill's On the Subjection of Women', published 1871, gained a fair amount of fame in Canada, the United States, and England. A few years after he left the Academy, he published a book of poems entitled 'Milestone Moods and Memories'. In this volume of nature poems are found some stanzas descriptive of the area around Rockwood. It is not known why he sold his share of the Academy to Alexander McMillan in 1871, but he did so, and in the fall of that year he accepted the position of principal of the Central School in Berlin (Kitchener). He stayed there until February, 1872, and later became a teacher in Galt and in the public schools in Ottawa. In 1886 McCaig was appointed public School Inspector for the District of Algoma, which at that time stretched from North Bay and Sudbury on the east, to the eastern boundary of Manitoba on the west. He was also the Inspector of the schools on Manitoulin Island. His headquarters were at Collingwood, and in winter he made his rounds by snow-shoe and dog sled, and in spring and fall by canoe. He must have been kept fairly busy, for in his report to the Minister of Education in 1890 he stated that he had one hundred and eighteen school houses and one hundred and twenty-seven teachers under his inspectorate. As he became older, he gave up all the Algoma district inspectorate, and kept only that of Collingwood, which had by that time become a thriving lake port. He died July 28, 1905, having completed fifty years in educational work. While teaching near Guelph as a young man, Donald McCaig married Ellen Smith, daughter of Alex and Mary (Beattie) Smith, and they had ten children.

Here we provide a copy of his book in pdf format

Milestone Moods and Memories
Poems and Songs
By Donald McCaig (1894)

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