Once Upon a Time: Dr. Hugh MacMillan

Mrs. Jean Hughes, a resident of Kinloss Township, wrote this biographical account of a “local boy” who grew up to become an overseas missionary.

Hugh Alexander MacMillan, eldest son of John and Mary, was born on the family farm, Concession 6, Kinloss Township, July 4, 1892. He attended S.S. No. 5, Kinloss, then Lucknow Continuation School before Clinton Model School, which qualified him for teaching. After two years in rural schools, he began studies at the University of Toronto before service in the Imperial Army during World War One. In 1921, he completed his arts degree and a Bachelor of Divinity from Knox College in 1923. In that same year he married Donalda McIntosh in South Kinloss Church.

In 1924, financially supported by the Presbyterian Church of Canada, the young couple left as missionaries to Formosa (Taiwan.) They became fluent in Chinese and Japanese languages. Mrs. MacMillan, a qualified teacher and registered nurse, proved a great asset in the work. On their first furlough, the couple returned home with their two children, Ruth Mary and Sandy, their slow trip home taking them by train across Russia to Britain and a boat to Canada. They returned to Formosa in 1932.

When war broke out in 1939, Rev. MacMillan was in Amsterdam at a conference. During his enforced absence from the mission field, he earned a Ph. D. from Edinburgh University. Returning to North America, Dr. MacMillan was asked to serve in Washington, D.C. as interpreter and to prepare broadcasts to the Japanese people, the Allied answer to “Tokyo Rose,” the Japanese propagandist. In Canada, he successfully campaigned against the expulsion of Japanese-Canadians.

After the war, the MacMillans returned to China, this time with Hugh serving as a representative of the Red Cross. He escaped Shanghai just hours before that city fell to the Communists. The couple returned to Formosa where they again served until 1962. Many friends gathered at the Taipei airport to wish them Godspeed.

South Kinloss Presbyterian Church

In 1964, Dr. MacMillan was elected Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. After retirement, the couple summered in Horning Mills.

On April 29, 1970, he died suddenly in Toronto and was buried in South Kinloss, close to his home church where the call to serve began many years earlier.



The original article from the 1972 Bruce County Historical Society’s Yearbook was abridged by Bob Johnston.