Donald McKay

1810 – 1880

Photographs of

Jordan Falls
Shelburne County
Nova Scotia

Located on the south side of Highway 103,
about 30m west from the Jordan River bridge

GPS location:   43°48'56"N   65°14'05"W
Google map

Donald McKay memorial, Jordan Falls

Photographed on 28 July 2003

Donald McKay memorial, Jordan Falls: plaque on south face

Photographed on 28 July 2003

This monument was officially unveiled on 20 August 1966.
Donald McKay memorial, Jordan Falls: north side

Photographed on 28 July 2003

Donald McKay memorial, Jordan Falls: north side

Photographed on 19 August 2003

Mr. McKay, perhaps more than the general run of builders, has the rare faculty of producing a beautiful model, and making the ship built by it an exact copy.  In other words, he makes the ships he builds look just as he likes.  He delights in his noble profession, and considers labor or expense nothing, compared with success.  It is his ambition to build the best, most beautiful, and swiftest clippers in the world...
Source: Boston Daily Atlas 17 November 1852

McKay Clan Page website by "1st-cousin-4-times-removed to Donald McKay"

includes a good picture of The Great Republic, launched 4 October 1853
(150th anniversary on 4 October 2003)

Links to Relevant Websites

The Glory of the Seas a brief overview of Donald McKay's life

Donald McKay Wikipedia

Donald McKay's journey to Liverpool Boston Daily Atlas, 18 June 1851

Donald McKay: Peacemaker
...That seizure of the Trent on November 8, 1861, created the greatest
excitement in England, where the members of the government were either actively
hostile to the Northern States or coldly indifferent, and threats of war were
freely made.  Donald McKay was in London at the time, and on December 6, 1861,
he sent a long communication to the powerful Star and Dial of London, which was
published, copied, and widely commented upon throughout the United Kingdom.
In it he corrected some of the misstatements being bandied about in the English
press, frankly set out the naval strength of the Northern States...
"Donald McKay tells them honestly and well..." — U.S. President Abraham Lincoln

Sovereign of the Seas extreme clipper ship built in 1852 by Donald McKay

James Baines extreme clipper ship built in 1854 by Donald McKay

Reproduction of a page from the Diary of Alfred Withers
on board the James Baines, Liverpool to Melbourne, 1857

Flying Cloud extreme clipper launched in 1851, at the shipyard of Donald McKay

The New Clipper Ship Flying Cloud Boston Daily Atlas, 25 April 1851

The Flying Cloud: Voyages Two & Three
...Flying Cloud had sailed all the way around the world on her
first voyage with her main mast in a weakened condition...
On May 14, 1852, Flying Cloud cleared New York for her second run around the Horn...
On April 28, 1853, Flying Cloud departed New York on her third voyage to San Francisco...

Record Voyage of the Flying Cloud
...On January 21, 1854, the steamer Achilles towed the
Flying Cloud down the East River out to Sandy Hook...
Arrived San Francisco on April 20, time 89 days, 8 hours...
On August 7th, 1854, the Flying Cloud encountered storms and foggy weather
and was sailing hard when she struck and ran up on a coral reef with such
force that the jagged coral cut right through Flying Cloud's keel leaving
a hole through the hull... Captain Creesy continued on with the voyage as
members of the crew manned the pumps 24 hours a day over the entire voyage
half way around the world back to New York, arriving there on November 24th, 1854...

135 years

...clipper ships, big and lean, were the fastest commercial
sailing ships ever built.  They could make the 14,500-mile
[23,300 km]  trip  between  New  York  and  San  Francisco
around South America in less than 100 days.  The famous
clipper Flying Cloud made the voyage in 89 days, eight
hours, a record that stood for 135 years until broken
by the racing yacht Thursday's Child in 1989...

Clipper advertising card exhibit at Bancroft Library
San Francisco Chronicle, 21 September 2013

The Last Great Sailing Record

Overtaking a Clipper Ship After 135 Years

A 60-foot yacht designed in the anything-goes style of ocean racing is
expected to sail through the Golden Gate Bridge finish line late Saturday
and break what many sailors consider to be the last great sailing record.

If  she  arrives  when  expected,  Thursday's  Child  will  have  made  the
15,000-mile voyage from New York to San Francisco round Cape Horn
in 80 days.  That would be nine days faster than the time it took the
229-foot Flying Cloud to sail the same course in 1854.  As of noon
Pacific time today, Thursday's Child was 197 miles away
from San Francisco, tacking in very light wind.

Previous attempts to break the record have ended in disappointment
or disaster.  Three  sailboats  in  the last  six  years  that  tried  to better
Flying Cloud's effort broke up or sank shortly after rounding Cape Horn,
the perilous meeting point of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
at  the  tip  of  South  America...

Overtaking a Clipper Ship After 135 Years
The New York Times, 11 February 1989

The Largest Clipper in the World Boston Daily Atlas, 25 May 1852
The Enoch Train
Mr McKay has now on the stocks, at East Boston, a magnificent clipper ship...

Launch of the Enoch Train, The Largest Clipper Ship in the World
Boston Daily Atlas, 7 June 1852

Staffordshire clipper packet ship built in 1851 by Donald McKay, East Boston

The new clipper packet ship Staffordshire Boston Daily Atlas, 21 July 1851

Clipper ship Staffordshire now receiving freight... Boston Daily Atlas, 23 April 1852

Abstract of the Log of the Staffordshire December 1851

Loss of the Packet Ship Staffordshire, and One Hundred and Eighty Lives
Boston Semi-Weekly Atlas, 4 January 1854

Loss of the ship Staffordshire
Boston Semi-Weekly Atlas, 14 January 1854

The Marco Polo
...On December 29th, 1853, the Staffordshire was in the vicinity of
Cape Sable near the Seal Islands (at the southernmost tip of Nova Scotia)
and struck on Blonde Rock several times before she went off in deep water...

Flying Fish extreme clipper ship built in 1851 by Donald McKay

Bald Eagle extreme clipper ship built in 1852 by Donald McKay

Bald Eagle extreme clipper built in 1852 by Donald McKay, East Boston

Clipper ship Bald Eagle Boston Daily Atlas, 17 November 1852

Designed, modelled, draughted and built by Mr. Donald McKay

Empress of the Seas Boston Daily Atlas, 25 January 1853
clipper ship built in 1853 at East Boston, by the celebrated Donald McKay

Stag Hound extreme clipper ship built in 1850 by Donald McKay

Clipper ship Stag Hound, of Boston The U.S. Nautical Magazine, 1855

Letter from a passenger on board the clipper ship Stag Hound Boston Daily Atlas, 10 June 1851

Donald McKay extreme clipper launched in 1855 at the shipyard of Donald McKay

Champion of the Seas built in 1854 at East Boston by Donald McKay

Clipper Ship by John H. Lienhard
Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering and History, University of Houston
Clipper ships were not a specific design, they were a state of mind.
And that state of mind lasted only a decade... (1846-1856)
They were tall and beautiful. Acres of canvas drove them at 14 knots.
For a while those expensive ships paid for themselves on a single voyage...

The Wayback Machine has archived copies of this webpage:
Rounding Cape Horn
the adventures of 19th century sea captain Josiah Richardson
by Dr. Louis Arthur Norton

...The clipper ship era entered its apotheosis when marine architect
Donald McKay of East Boston designed the first extreme clipper,
Stag Hound.  The ship was designed for a swift east coast "round
the Horn" run to San Francisco, then to speed to China and return
around the world.  McKay favored Cape Cod masters for his vessels,
and he selected Richardson to command Stag Hound, the highest
compliment that could be paid to this young captain.  Stag Hound
was launched before 1,500 people on a cold December day in 1850...

...Staffordshire labored to the westward under a double-reefed main
topsail.  The watch sighted the distant lights of Cape Sable Island
(not Sable Island, as stated in the original article) to the south of the Nova
Scotia mainland, but the ship's damaged rudder and fouled gear
made her slow to come about.  Just four miles off Cape Sable Island
on the morning of December 29, 1853, Staffordshire struck Blonde
Rock, remained suspended, then slipped off to sink bow first.  An
icy deck and a snow squall hampered the lowering of boats to save
passengers and crew... Captain Richardson perished with 169 others
on that tragic December morning... Alden and 43 others were saved...

Archived: 1998 February 06

Archived: 1998 May 03


Donald McKay and the Clipper Ships by Mary Ellen Chase,
181 pages with photographs and diagrams, published 1959 by
Houghton Mifflin Company, Riverside Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Yankee Clippers: the Story of Donald McKay
by Clara Ingram Judson and Yukio Tashiro, a biography of the
Nova Scotia farmer's son who dreamed of ships as a lad, worked
in the shipyards as a youth, and designed and built more than
ninety ships in the great days of clipper sail
published 1965 by Follett Publishing Company, Chicago

Donald McKay: Designer of Clipper Ships
by John O'Hara Cosgrave II and Clara Ingram Judson
published 1943 by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York

Some famous sailing ships and their builder, Donald McKay:
a study of the American sailing packet and clipper eras, with
biographical sketches of America's foremost designer and master
builder of ships, and a comprehensive history of his many famous ships

by Richard C. McKay (grandson of Donald McKay), 396 pages with
25 b/w illustrations, plus 10 plates in colour with tissue guard,
and 51 pages with 42 b/w plates and 11 plans models, maps, facsimile
letters and telegrams — A comprehensive history of Donald McKay's
ships, drawn from original sources and family records, from his first,
the trading ship Courier in 1842, to his last marine enterprise,
the refitting of the famous schooner yacht America in 1875.
published 1928 by G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York
third printing in June 1931 (of 1928 edition)
reprinted 1969 by 7 C's Press, Riverside, Connecticut
reprinted 1988 by Easton Press, Norwalk, Connecticut

Donald McKay and His Famous Sailing Ships by Richard C. McKay,
512 pages with 58 illustrations, plans, and maps
ISBN 048628820X
published 1995 (reprint of the 1928 edition) by Dover Publications Inc.
"This rare and valuable study, written by McKay's descendent who had
access to important family records, reveals McKay's extraordinary
accomplishments as it recreates the great era of the American sailing
packet and clipper ship. In the end, steamships replaced McKay's
masterworks, but never eclipsed the magnificent sailing tradition
whose climax they represented."

The Wayback Machine has archived copies of this webpage:
Monument to Donald McKay, Shipbuilder

Archived: 2002 August 21

Archived: 2003 March 24

Archived: 2004 October 17

Photographs of War Memorials, Historic Monuments and Plaques in Nova Scotia

Westport: Joshua Slocum memorial Joshua Slocum memorial Westport

Rawding Captains monument Rawding Captains monument Clementsport

Allendale Shipyard plaque Allendale Shipyard plaque Allendale

S.S. Atlantic 1873 memorial at Sandy Cove, Terence Bay S.S. Atlantic 1873: memorial at Sandy Cove Terence Bay

S.S. Atlantic 1873 memorial at Star of the Sea cemetery, Lower Prospect S.S. Atlantic 1873: memorial at Star of the Sea cemetery Lower Prospect

Joe Cracker, HMS Tribune plaque Joe Cracker, HMS Tribune plaque Herring Cove

Fort Point monument Fort Point monument LaHave

Montbeliard monument Montbeliard monument Lunenburg

Birchtown Black Loyalist memorial Black Loyalist memorial Birchtown

Barrington: Old Meeting House 1765 Old Meeting House 1765 Barrington

Cape Sable Settlers 1761 Cape Sable Settlers 1761 Barrington

Barrington war memorial Barrington war memorial Barrington

Shelburne war memorial Shelburne war memorial Shelburne

CFS Shelburne closure memorial CFS Shelburne closure memorial Shelburne

Fort St. Louis monument Fort St. Louis, 1630 Port LaTour

Carleton Village war memorial Carleton Village war memorial Carleton Village

Clark's Harbour war memorial Clark's Harbour war memorial Clark's Harbour

Green Island cannon Green Island cannon Centreville

Kempt war memorial Kempt war memorial Kempt

Arcadia war memorial Arcadia war memorial Arcadia

Korean War memorial Korean War memorial Yarmouth

Edward Phinley Morse historic plaques, Clementsport Edward Phinley Morse plaques Clementsport

John Cabot 1497 memorial John Cabot 1497 memorial Aspy Bay

Captain James Cook monument Captain James Cook monument Halifax

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Go To:   Nova Scotia History, Chapter One

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Go To:   Proclamations: Land Grants in Nova Scotia 1757, '58, '59

Go To:   Statutes of Nova Scotia, 1805, edited by Richard John Uniacke

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First uploaded to the WWW:   2002 November 21
Better photographs installed:   2003 August 26
Added Google Map link:   2007 December 20
Latest update:   2013 October 11