When Donald James McPhail was born on May 19, 1879, in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, his father, John James McPhail (1838-1879), would have been 41 and his mother, Catherine Ann (née McIntosh) (1845-1922), was 34. It is possible that Donald’s father’s death preceded his birth.
He had three brothers and three sisters.
Donald James was not on the 1881 census with his mother and the surviving members of his family. One possibility was he living with an uncle in Cornwall on that census. There was a Donald J. McPhail listed living with the family of Archibald and Annie McPhail, the same age as “Christopher McPhail” in the same household. However, a birth record was located that suggests that this Donald J. is actually the son of Archibald McPhail and Ann McDonnell.
No other records related to Donald James McPhail are located. There was a death record that appeared to match – the names of the parents on the certificate were correct for the Donald James McPhail that died on July 13, 1933. However, this Donald James died at the age of 82—putting his birth in 1851. This Donald James had been in a care home—according to the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph website, St. Paul’s Home was opened in 1898 for the care of elderly persons. As our Donald James would have only been 54 by the time of this death, it seems unlikely that it is the same person, however, given his father’s parents were also John James McPhail and Catherine McIntosh, it is possible that the Donald James listed on this certificate is the brother of Donald’s father. I will be looking into this further.
It seems the likely answer that this Donald James died shortly after his birth, which is why he is not with his family in 1881. A search of St. Andrew’s Church burial records has been undertaken and no burial record has been located. No death record that matches was found in the Ontario index either.
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