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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
Augustine McDonell


AUGUSTINE McDONELL, one of the capable and reliable Dominion surveyors and civil engineers of the County of Kent, has been a resident of Chatham for more than forty years.  He bears a name which is well known and respected through the Scottish Highlands, whence came his ancestors.

John McDonell, the grandfather of Augustine, was born, reared and married in the highlands of Scotland, there reared his family, and died.  One son, Austin, the father of Augustine, was born in the Highlands of that grand old country in 1795, and died in Chatham, Ontario, in 1879.  He came to Canada in 1816, and for some years afterward followed lumbering, and then purchased a farm in Dundee township, County of Huntingdon, Quebec.  He was a pioneer there, but his land was heavily timbered, but he cleared it and lived upon it until 1872, when advancing years caused him to retire to Chatham, where his last years were passed in ease.  His wife had gone long before, in 1853, leaving seven chidlren who grew to maturity:  Isabella, who resides in Seaforth; Augustine of Chatham; Anna Bell, who is a resident of Springfield, Massachusetts; Elizabeth and Alexander, both of whom are deceased; Flora, who is Sister Superior in a convent in Muskegon, Michigan; and Mary, Mrs. Edward O'Keff, of Canada, deceased.

Augustine McDonell was born June 22nd, 1828, at Dundee, Quebec, and there obtained his primary education, later becoming a student in the Normal School at Toronto, where he prepared himself for the profession of teaching, which he followed for ten years, in Blenheim and other parts of the County of Kent.  His tastes lay in the direction of scientific work, and during these years he studied civil engineering, and as he was patient and courageous by 1860 he felt qualified to open an office in Chatham.  He saw where in the County of Kent there was a wide opportunity for practical work in his line, and in 1862, on account of his accurate knowledge, he was made Provincial surveyor; in 1867, by act of the Confederation, he was made Dominion surveyor and is still filling that office.  his 42 years of activity in the County of Kent have resulted in many material changes in the face of the County, much of his labour having been in the way of drainage, his field being the submerged lands in the western portions of Ontario.  Mr. McDonell was one of the civil engineers and builders of the Erie & Huron Railroad, now the Lake Erie & Detroit River Railroad, a branch of the new Pere Marquettte.  He is well and widely known, his work being of such a character that it is his best advertisement, and he is frequently called to places in various parts of Canada as a witness in drainage cases.

In 1861 Mr McDonell was married to Miss Margaret O'Flynn.  She is the devoted mother of a family of five children, namely:  Alexander P., who had prepared for the practice of law, and had every promise of a brilliant career when removed by death, in 1886; Mary Ellen, who is at home; Angela, wife of Joseph t. O'Keefe, a successful produce dealer of Chatham; Flora, who is a member of the Sacred Heart Community of nurses and is now stationed in Halifax, N.S.; and Dr. John F., who is a physician and surgeon of Detroit, Michigan  In politics Mr. McDonell is a Liberal.  With his family he belongs to the Roman Catholic Church.

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