George MacDonald

The early years: family life in England

George's birth certificate

THIS IS A PORTION of George's birth certificate. He was born August 10, 1881, at home, 142 Tottenham Road, in West Hackney, Middlesex County, part of Greater London. His father was Michael Anderson MacDonald, whose occupation was given as a printer's reader, what we would call a proofreader today. He was called by his first name, Michael. George's mother was the former Annie Richings.


George's birthplace, 142 Tottenham Rd. is the reddish house on the right, as it looked in 2005. His grandparents and their family lived right next door, left, at 140 Tottenham Rd. (Photo by Mark Wolff)

Sometime after 1918, the family moved to TORQUAY, on the English Channel coast in the southwest corner of England, where Michael continued as a newspaper journalist. According to our family oral history, he was either the editor or the owner (maybe both) of a Torquay newspaper.

Family group

THE MACDONALD FAMILY PICTURE ABOVE was probably taken around 1900, and was a bit of a mystery to our family at first when it came to light among some of George's old papers in the late 1980's. Positively identified from the start were: George's mother Annie, seated on the far left, with husband Michael next to her. But who were the young musicians? My mother was in her late seventies when she first saw this picture, and she didn't recognize them. But later, when she saw the computer-enhanced, enlarged image on this web page (April 2000), she said the violinist was a young George, though she never knew him to play the violin, and the pianist was George's sister Maggie. The picture was printed on a postcard form, common for family groups in those days. It is likely the picture was taken in London where the entire family lived until at least 1901, according to the census records for that year. George was 19 then, and Maggie was 15.

A photo album of the MacDonald's and friends in Torquay

Annie Michael and friends That's George's mother Annie on the left, when she was young, probably taken in the early 1900's.

On the right is a Torquay street scene: George's father Michael (left) with some unidentified friends or business acquaintances, or maybe his colleagues, out for a walk downtown in 1931.

MacDonalds and friends A trio

In the picture on the left are the MacDonald's with their friends the Stone's and their daughter on the River Walk in Torquay, summer, 1929. Michael is on the left, Annie's in the middle. The picture on the right was taken in Aspal Garden, Torquay, in 1938 with Annie on the left, George's sister Maggie in the middle, and Clemmie, Maggie's lifelong companion, right.

Annie and Maggie

Annie late in her life, in a summer garden with daughter Maggie.

George left school at the age of 13 to follow in his father's footsteps, and take a job at the London Times as a printer's devil (helper), rising to reporter by the time he was 19 in 1901. Then, two years later in 1903 he left Great Britain for good. On July 24 in Glasgow, Scotland, he was aboard a ship called the Sicilian that sailed to Montreal, Canada. There, he got a job as a newspaper reporter on the old Montreal Witness.

George's home page | Letters to his grandson | Memories of private life

George and the R-100 airship | Millie | George's father | Final tribute

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Page created Jan. 20, 2000. Last updated November 8, 2011