Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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MACDONELL, Allan, Canadian explorer, born in York (now Toronto), 5 November, 1808. His father, Alexander, a native of Inverness-shire, Scotland, was for many years a member of the legislature, and legislative council of Upper Canada. The son studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1882, and in the following year entered into partnership with Sir Allan N. MacNab. A short time previous to the rebellion of 1837 he was appointed sheriff of the Gore district, and at the beginning of the revolt raised a troop of cavalry armed and equipped at his own expense. After holding the Gore ***shrievalty for five years he resigned, and in the winter of 1846 obtained from the government a license for exploring the shores of Lake Superior for mines. Though opposed by the Hudson bay company, he was successful, and as a result the Quebec company was formed, and mining operations were carried on successfully for several years. The government, in overlooking the claims of the Indians for compensation, in selling the lands occupied by the Quebec company, made trouble between the aborigines and the miners. Mr. Macdonell twice accompanied deputations of chiefs to urge their claims upon the government. Commissioners were appointed by the latter to arrange the difficulty, but, owing to their incompetence, no understanding was arrived at, and finally the Indians regained possession of their property by force, in which they were supported by Mr. Macdonell. Soon afterward a military expedition was sent to the mines, and he and two Indian chiefs were arrested and taken to Toronto, but were released on a writ of habeas corpus. The question of the Indian title to the land was finally settled in 1850, when by treaty the Indians received payment. In 1850 Mr. Macdonell ***pro-jeered the construction of a canal around the Sault Ste. Marie on the Canadian side; but the government refusing to grant a charter, the scheme proved abortive. In his explorations of the country west of Lake Superior he had acquired a good knowledge of the country and its capabilities, and at an early date had published a series of articles in the Toronto newspapers advocating the scheme of a Pacific railway. He applied to parliament for a charter for its construction, the road to extend from the head of Lake Superior to the Pacific ocean, but was refused on the ground that such an undertaking was premature. He continued to interest himself in the work of opening communication with the northwest, and in 1858 secured from parliament the charter for the Northwest transit company, of which Sir Allan N. MacNab was afterward president, and Sir John Beverley Robinson secretary. Mr. Macdonell afterward removed to Toronto, where he now (1887) resides.
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