Fonds PR-2303 - Donald MacLachlan fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Donald MacLachlan fonds

General material designation

  • textual record
  • graphic material
  • cartographic material
  • technical drawing

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the fonds.

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1886-2011 (Creation)
    MacLachlan, Donald F.

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Physical description

5.5 m of textual, graphic and cartographic material

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Donald F. MacLachlan was born in Victoria West on February 19, 1923. The MacLachlan family carried a tradition of railway work. Don MacLachlan's father, Allan, began to work on the Esquimalt and Nanaimo (E&N) Railway as a fireman in 1910. Allan MacLachlan's E&N career progressed until he became an engineer. He spent the last few years of his career running the E&N passenger run, the Dayliner, retiring in 1956. Allan MacLachlan's sons, Donald and Allan, both picked up Allan's railway fascination and both worked as engineers for the E&N.

Don MacLachlan's first railway adventure occurred at the age of two when he slept through a train derailment on the Malahat. His father was the acting engineer. Throughout his childhood Don MacLachlan accompanied his father to work at every opportunity; he was steeped in the history of the railway from an early age. Don graduated from Victoria West High School in 1940 and the next year, at the age of 18, Don took a job with the E&N as a wiper spare fireman. He served in the Second World War from 1942 to 1946. Returning to Vancouver Island after the war, Don returned to his work on the E&N. He spent the early years of his career working around Vancouver Island as a brakeman and fireman hauling industrial loads. He was working as a fireman in 1949 when the first diesel engines were introduced on the E&N. In 1965 Don graduated to engineer. He worked on freight and switch engines as an engineer for the next 16 years. Don began to work as an engineer on the E&N Dayliner in 1979. He worked on the passenger train for fourteen years until his retirement in 1983.

Don's association with railways went far beyond his professional occupation. He was an active member of the British Columbia Historical Railway Association. He built and maintained an elaborate model train in his home and kept an ongoing correspondence with many model train enthusiasts and organizations. In 1955 he helped to host an international convention of model train enthusiasts. He collected a large amount of photographs and historical information on various kinds of trains and locomotives. He was the popular author of several newspapers articles concerning the history of railroads. He also authored three books on the E&N Railway, "The Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway: The Dunsmuir Years, 1884-1905," "Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway, 1905-2006" and with with Robert D. Turner, "The Canadian Pacific's Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway, The CPR Steam Years, 1905-1949." Over time, MacLachlan became known as a popular public spokesperson for the E&N. In recognition for his service, he was presented with the "Honorary Citizen of Victoria" in 1983.He served as an expert witness on the 1996 BC Supreme Court case concerning land right of way and the E&N.

Don MacLachlan died on December 3, 2011.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of records documenting the professional and personal life of Donald MacLachlan. The predominant theme of the records is MacLachlan's involvement in the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway, its history, operations, and advocacy when threatened with closure. The records contain textual material, photographs and plans, maps and drawings both created and collected by MacLachlan.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Although MacLachlan kept his material in files, there is no real arrangement. The processing archivist divided the material into three series: textual material, photographs and maps.

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Restrictions on access

There are no access restrictions.
Conservation restriction: graphic material in cold storage is inaccessible.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Many of the photograph copyrights reside with third parties.

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There are series descriptions with file lists.

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General note

Accession number(s): 2012.134

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