According to an internationally-acclaimed expert on Scottish genealogy, one in seven of all early Scottish migrants to British North America was named Macdonald.
The late Donald Whyte, of West Lothian, who helped found the Scottish Genealogy Society (SGS) in 1953, devoted much of his life to the study and development of Scottish family history.
Thanks to his work, genealogists today estimate that in the century before Confederation about 1400 John Macdonalds emigrated from Scotland to British North America. This figure includes variant spellings of the Macdonald name. (Today on Canada411’s telephone directory, some 3288 John Macdonalds are listed--and the search engine doesn’t total the numbers of Macdonalds in Canada.)
Canadians of Scottish descent owe much to Whyte’s devotion to family scholarship. A popular figure who could recount his own family history in the traditional manner--“I am Donald, son of John, son of Donald, son of John, son of...”--Whyte lectured widely throughout Canada and the UK and was a keynote speaker at the Ontario Genealogy Society's conference in the 1980s. The society supported the publication in 1986 of his work, A Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants to Canada before Confederation (2 vols.). The following year he was awarded with the Ontario Society's Certificate of Recognition. His dictionary is available from the society (http://ogs.on.ca/web_results.php).
Thousands of fur traders, explorers, bankers, railway builders, politicians, farmers, teachers and journalists who came to Canada before 1867 were from Scotland. Donald Whyte consulted numerous sources—printed and manuscript—and by extensive correspondence gathered much information that would not otherwise have been saved for posterity. A must for anyone searching for Scottish ancestors, these volumes also provide a bibliography of genealogical periodicals.