James Donaldson

James C. Donaldson, L.L.D. (1843-96) was the Society's first non-resident member and an avid double star observer.

Tribute at the APST Meeting of 1896 Oct 13th

The Corresponding Secretary then addressed the meeting, conveying the sad information that another death was to be recorded among the active members of the Society. Since the last meeting, Mr. J. C. Donaldson, LL. D., of Fergus, had passed away a gentleman personally known to many of the members and very widely known throughout Ontario as a most assiduous worker in observational astronomy. It was then moved by Mr. A. Elvins, seconded by Mr. G. E. Lumsden, and

Resolved, That this Society has learned with sincere regret of the untimely death of Mr. J. C. Donaldson, LL.D., of Fergus, Ont., its first non-resident member, and that it desires to place on record its high appreciation of the merits the deceased, who, whether as amateur astronomer, as private citizen, as professional adviser, as educationist, as member of the Public Library Board, or as promoter in others of a love of the manly out-door games and pastimes in which he himself excelled, appears to have striven to discharge his duties faithfully; and that this Society regards the disappearance of Dr. Donaldson from the ranks of well-equipped observers as a serious loss to Canadian observational astronomy, he having been an enthusiastic, painstaking and conscientious observer, and having for some years regularly contributed weekly reports of his work to be read at its meetings; and that a copy of this resolution be transmitted to Mrs. Crawford, the sister with whom he lived, and that she be assured of this Society's respectful sympathy and condolence.

The Chairman, in putting the resolution to the meeting, paid a high tribute to the deceased, as one ever anxious, even in the midst of professional work, to advance the cause of science. The members rose to signify their sympathy with the spirit of the resolution. [From the 1896 Transactions, p.73.]

Obituary in TAPST, 1896

JAMES C. DONALDSON, LL.D., was born in Balinaclellan, Kircud- brightshire, Scotland, in 1843, and came to Canada in 1847, having the misfortune to lose his father on the ocean passage. The mother and children settled in Dundas, and subsequently Mr. Donaldson entered as a law student in a barrister's office in Fergus, Ont. On passing his examinations and being called to the bar, he first opened an office in Dun- das, but finally settled in Fergus, where he had resided for 30 years prior to his death.

Dr. Donaldson became a member of the Astronomical and Physical Society in 1891, and was a regular correspondent, sending weekly reports of his work, which was mainly in the field of double-star observations. lie possessed an excellent 3½-inch Cooke refractor, which he used to the utmost advantage.

Professionally, Dr. Donaldson stood very high; his wide knowledge, sound judgment and high standard of honour securing confidence and esteem wherever he was known. He was for many years a valued and useful member of the Fergus Board of Education, and took a deep inter- est, not only in local schools, but in everything pertaining to education. Dr. Donaldson was never married; for some years past he had lived with his widowed sister, Mrs. Wm. Crawford.

His death occurred on October 1st, 1896, after a severe illness, borne with Christian fortitude. [From the 1896 Transactions.]


The death of Mr. J. C. Donaldson, LL.D., which took place last Thursday evening after a few weeks’ hopeless illness of cancer of the stomach, is a loss to this vicinity. Ho has been a resident of Fergus for nearly thirty years, and was held in the highest esteem by all classes of the community, Born in 1843 in Balinaclellan, Kircudbright-shire, Scotland, when he was three or four years old the family came out to Canada, the father dying during the journey. The mother and children settled in Dundas, and later on Mr. Donaldson became a law student in Mr. Cross's office in Fergus. On passing his examinations and being called to the bar he first opened an office in Dundas, and about a year later removed to Galt. A few years afterwards he came to Fergus, and ever since he has been a well known resident of this place. Dr. Donaldson was a gentleman of literary taste and was exceptionally well I read on almost every subject. He was also an astronomer of some note, and contributed able papers to the Astronomical Society of Ontario, of which he was an honored member. He was for many years a valued and useful member of the Fergus Board of Education, and took a deep interest, not only in our own schools, but in everything pertaining to education. He was also an active member of the Mechanics' Institute, and was one of the few who devoted time and care to the selection of books for the library. He was a warm admirer of manly sports, never missed an opportunity of encouraging them, and be was a curler, cricketer and tennis player of exceptional skill. Professionally he stood high; his wide knowledge, sound judgment and high standard of honor securing confidence and esteem for him wherever he was known. And in the social circle he likewise filled every reasonable requirement, for while he was anything but a light butterfly of fashion, he enjoyed company and was to an exceptional degree entertaining. Though be never took a prominent part in election contests, he was a Liberal in politics, and also a most enthusiastic admirer of the British system of government and British institutions. Dr. Donaldson never married. For some years past he has lived with his widowed sister, Mrs. Crawford, by whom be will bo greatly missed. His death is regretted by all, and the universal feeling is that through his removal Fergus has lost a most worthy citizen. The funeral took place on Monday, the body being taken to Dundas for interment. The services were conducted at the house by Rev. J. B. Mullan, pastor of the deceased, assisted by Rev. T. W. Jackson, and early as the hour was, eight o’clock in the morning, a large concourse of people assembled to accompany the body to the railway station.


The funeral of the late James C. Donaldson L. L. D.,barrister of Fergus, took place at Dundas on Monday morning to the Grove cemetery. Mr. Donaldson spent his boyhood days at Flamboro village, where he attended the public school and subsequently the Dundas grammar school. He then passed all the necessary examinations and took his degree at the Toronto University, and was called to the bar. He opened an office in Dundas, where he remained for some months, afterwards removing to Fergus, where ho practised his profession for many years. He was a deligent student and a good scholar and was always of a retiring and unassuming disposition. Of late years he devoted a great deal of bis spare time to astronomy and had an excellent instrument for making his solar observations, in which he was so much interested, being also a member of the Astronomical Society of Ontario. He was much respected by his friends and acquaintances in Dundas, West Flamboro and the County of Wellington, as well as elsewhere. He was a brother of the late W.D. Donaldson of West Flamboro,who was a well known business man there and a prominent Reformer, and he leaves only one sister, Mrs. Wm. Crawford, surviving him. Services at the grave were conducted by Rev. Dr. Laing and Rev. J. B. Hamilton.

These two preceeding obituaries are from newspaper clippings in the 1896 APST Minute Book.

Donaldson, James C.