Maggie Donald

My Maternal Grandmother

While named Maggie at her birth in Motherwell, Scotland in 1911, she was known as Peggy or Peg, at least in her adult life, to most.  To her 8 grandchildren, she was our much loved and respected "Nanny".  She was the first and best source of historical tidbits and photographs I had to begin my genealogy journey, therefore a perfect ancestor to begin my 52 Ancestors Blog.

Peggy was the eighth child of eleven born to Arthur Donald and Catherine Devon, however two of her siblings died as toddlers, before her birth.  Her father was a steelworker,  her mother a housewife.  In 1929, at the age of 18, she emigrated to Canada with one of her brothers, Arthur, with hopes of a better future.  They joined their sisters, Lucy and Lottie, and brother, Bob, who had already settled in Canada.  She never forgot the long and tedious ocean voyage on the MS Antonia.

Upon arrival in Canada, Peggy worked "in service" as a domestic servant, earning her title as "Nanny" long before she was a grandmother. She met her future husband, Harold Cockburn, at a dance at the Orange Hall in Hamilton. In 1932, she married him and together they raised three daughters, who went on to marry and have eight children between them.  They both worked for many years at a local candy factory; she retired in 1973 ending 23 years of shift work.

Unfortunately, Harold died at the young age of 55; Peggy was a widow until her death shortly before her 88th birthday in 1999.

In a eulogy I wrote at the time of her funeral, I talked of an endless supply of the things I have to remember her by.  Foods like Edinburgh rock candy, coconut macaroons, toffees, chocolate, fish and chips (she used to talk about how as youngsters they would walk to the local fish shop to savour the wee bits of discarded deep fried batter left over from the take out orders), meat pies, mince stew and shortbread.  Lots of parties, dances (highland fling, sword dance, and the Chicken Dance), Robbie Burns nights, weddings, picnics - where she was always the life of the party.  She did cross word puzzles and sang songs; she sang a beautiful rendition of "Danny Boy".  She was generous to a fault - she always had treats, knick-knacks, spare change, bargains bought at rummage and penny-sales and lots of presents.  She was a very active senior, she did not drive but walked or took buses everywhere.  Well into her 80s she volunteered to help and entertain other senior citizens - I don't think she ever realized she was one of them.

Maggie Donald was a proud Canadian however she never forgot her Scottish roots.  She was a member, and at various times a leader, in the British Imperial Club, the Scottish Clans and the Daughters of Scotland.  She visited her family back home every few years as long as she could. She outlived her parents, her husband, one daughter, two grandsons, and all of her siblings, dying peacefully in her sleep and leaving behind many wonderful memories and loving descendants. 

Motherwell School picture around 1916. Maggie is third from the left front row.

"Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future."


- Gail Lumet Buckley

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09.10 | 13:33

Hello Peter - please email me at

23.08 | 15:28

Hi Karen, If you are still maintaining this page, please drop me a line. William and Mary were my great, great, grandparents. Best Regards,

29.08 | 18:46

John. Can you email me at - then we can connect directly. ..

16.08 | 11:58

Hi Karen, if you are interested, please visit my facebook page
regards john crome.

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