Eleanor Sullivan               --  Mini Bio


Patrick Sullivan was born and raised in Ireland (probably in County Cork) and migrated to Canada in the early 1840’s at the age of 17.  Here he met young Mary Kelly, who was born in Gatineau County, Quebec of Irish immigrant parents.  Family tradition says that she and Pat eloped for their wedding.  He was somewhere in his mid-20’s and Mary was just 17 years old at the time of their marriage.  Together Pat and Mary had sixteen children with one coming along at least every two years.

The young couple settled on a farm in Low Township of Gatineau County, Quebec, just about four miles north of where Andy and Emily McDonald lived and they became close friends, attending the same Catholic Church in Farrellton—St.. Camille’s Parish. 

Their third child was a daughter named Ellenor, who was born 11 July 1854 and christened 4 Sep 1854 in that church.  She was the only daughter in the family among the first eight children, being eleven years older than her next sister.

Even today, the Gatineau area is a heavily wooded landscape covering beautiful rolling hills.  Her father was a farmer, but it was difficult to create a farm in the midst of a forest.  It first required the clearing of vast expanses of trees.  Several of her brothers worked in the woods in the dangerous occupation of logging.

When Ellenor was about nineteen years old her next older brother, Jeremiah, was helping to float a logjam down the Gatineau River, when a tragic accident cost him his life.  It was about four weeks later before his body was recovered and returned home for burial in St. Camilla’s parish.  Just three months later, her mother, Mary, had another little baby boy, and he was given the name of his recently deceased brother, Jeremiah, but he was normally called, “Jerry”.  This boy was unique in another way, in that he was a dwarf, and earned his living, throughout his life, by performing on stage in a “Mutt and Jeff” comedy routine.

We get a feeling of what life was like for the McDonalds along the Gatineau River, from Ellenor’s future son, Thomas, who wrote: “Stag Creek Valley was a beutifull plase in the sommer hundreds of birds every whare  Fur bearing animals in the water and on the hills.  Trees of every kind wild red and choke cherries red and black rose berries Buternut trees on the hill  butternuts are about the size of walnuts  we used to gather sacks of them and put them upstairs to dry out.  The winters were something else  Snow started to fall in October and we had about two feet by ChristMass  in January the road left the fences and went across the fields   Put on your snow shoes if you wanted to leave the beaten path.  Fuebery puff and blow fill up every hole with snow.  The men had worked out a fine system  they tuck the horses to the lumber camps in December and came back in March  The Women faught the snow all winter shoveling roads to get cattle and horses to water  melting snow for water in the house and packing in wood.”

On 19 Sep. 1880, at the age of 26, Ellenor married her neighbor, Michael McDonald (son of Andrew and Emily Wrath McDonald) in St. Camille’s Parish in Farrellton, Quebec.  Michael’s father, Andy McDonald, gave them the western third of his farmland, about 100 acres.  Here their ten children were born—three of whom died either at birth or when very young.  The seven who survived lived and worked next to their McDonald grandparents and knew them well. 

As large tracts of timberland were logged off, several of Ellenor’s brothers moved west and settled in Wisconsin, where virgin forests were still being logged.  In time, her parents followed their boys out west and settled in Wausau, Marathon Co., WI, where they remained.  This left Ellenor behind, still living with her McDonald in-laws.

Eventually Ellenor’s children grew up and began leaving home.  Several of them went west to seek jobs in the lumber industry in Wisconsin, or on the railroad that was laying tracks to the Pacific Northwest, or to other opportunities that took them far away from their home in Quebec. 

Their third oldest son, Thomas (father of Donald T. McDonald) found employment in Montana working for the US government in building dams and irrigation projects.  He was followed by his brother, Bill and his sister, Mary.  Patrick, another of Ellenor’s sons, also followed, but he went on to the gold fields of Alaska.  Her oldest son, Andy, and his wife, moved to Spokane, WA, where he found work on the railroad.  Her oldest daughter, Anastasia, followed Andy there and met her future husband, William English.

In 1908, Ellenor and Michael decided to follow their children west.  They loaded their belongings and moved to the Flathead Lake region of Montana to be near their son, Tom.  By now the couple was aging and her husband, Michael McDonald, developed some type of senility, perhaps Alzheimers, and needed to be hospitalized in 1918.  He spent his remaining days in a Catholic nursing home in St. Ignatius, MT, where the nuns cared for him until he passed away on 17 Sep. 1926.  He was buried in St. Mary’s cemetery in Missoula, Montana.  (Near his grave, in the same cemetery, his younger brother, William McDonald was buried, as were two of his grandchildren, Jim & Betty McDonald—a brother and sister of Donald McDonald.)

A year after her husband was permanently settled in the nursing home, Ellenor decided to go to Spokane, where her daughter, Anastasia, was going through a sad divorce and trying to work and raise her three sons.  Ellenor moved in with her daughter and helped take care of the boys.  Her only other living daughter, Mary, also moved to Spokane to be near her.  Ellenor remained here until she passed away on 29 Jan. 1940.  She was buried in the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in north Spokane, Washington.

      Michael McDonald & Ellenor Sullivan -- About 1908

        Ellenor with granddaughter, Betty McDonald -- About 1929