Donald Baxter MacMillan
(Provincetown Mass., 11/10/1874 - 9/7/1970)
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Donald Baxter MacMillan was born on November 10, 1874 in Provincetown, Massachusetts. After being orphaned at a young age, MacMillan moved to Freeport, Maine, and lived with his sister Letitia (Mrs. Winthrop Fogg) and attended high school there.
MacMillan attended Bowdoin College and graduated in the Class of 1898.
After college he went to the Swarthmore Preparatory School, in Pennsylvania, to teach Latin and physical education. During the summers he ran a camp called Wychmere, on Bustin's Island in Casco Bay, Maine, with the help of a fellow teacher, Sam Palmer. In one week in 1901, MacMillan rescued nine persons from drowning in two separate boating mishaps. This heroism won MacMillan considerable fame in the local press. Robert Peary, who lived nearby on Eagle Island, came to hear of Donald MacMillan because of those incidents.
After Swarthmore, MacMillan taught at Worcester Academy (Massachusetts) as a physical education instructor. In 1905 Peary asked MacMillan to go on his North Pole expedition, but employment commitments required MacMillan to decline the offer. In 1908 Peary tried once more to capture the Pole, and MacMillan went to the Arctic for the first time on that expedition. He was 35 years old.
MacMillan was a very active Arctic explorer in the period after the 1908-09 Expedition, a time that included these important events:
1913-17MacMillan disproved the existence of Crocker Land, a mirage which looked like land in the Polar Sea north of Axel Heiberg Island. He also explored extensive areas of North Greenland and Ellesmere Island.
1920-21The Schooner Bowdoin was designed and built for MacMillan's Arctic work
1929MacMillan built the Moravian Mission School for Inuit in Nain, Labrador
1935He married Miriam Look, and went to live in Provincetown, Massachusetts
1954Senators Saltonstall, Kennedy and Bridges obtained congressional approval of a measure authorizing the President to elevate MacMillan from the rank of Commander to the rank of Rear Admiral
Donald Baxter MacMillan died on September 7, 1970, at the age of 95 years. Miriam MacMillan died August 18, 1987. The MacMillans had no children.
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