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In honour of our soldiers: John Donald

By Samuel Cheng

Published 11:51 PDT, Fri September 15, 2023

In a series of Richmond’s ‘poppy’ street signs in memory of our fallen soldiers, we share the story of Donald Road.

John Donald, born in Elgin, England, was a man of many talents. Prior to his enlistment in Vernon, British Columbia on July 13, 1915, he was a member of the militia, a motor driver and labourer.

Donald served on the 47th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The battalion departed for Plymouth, England four months after his enlistment on November 22. Donald spent nine months at boot camps in Bramshott, England before he was sent out to France on a mission.

It was the year of 1916, when Donald was unfortunately killed in action in France. Like Donald’s marital status, the cause of his death is unknown. Nonetheless, before his passing, Donald listed James Mowatt as his next of kin. 

Mowatt worked for the Lighthouse Cannery in Steveston and was often referred to as “cousin” or “foster father” to Donald. Mowatt was also the recipient of the plaque and scroll from the Canadian government upon Donald’s passing.

The Lighthouse Cannery was built in 1893, on the coast of Steveston by the Steveston Canning Co. The cannery was renamed the Lighthouse in 1898 when it was bought out by the Federation Canning & Packing and Co. The Lighthouse Cannery was in operation up until 1918, when it was destroyed in the infamous Steveston Fire.

In memory of Private John Donald, the City of Richmond adopted the road name in his honor on Sept. 7, 1954. Donald Road can be found to the west of Gilbert Road, between Granville Avenue and Blundell Road. It is the street to the south of the previously introduced Chatterton Road.

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