If you had 300 or more of these Indians at the Front they would make good snipers as they are crack marksmen and they are as tough as any class of people I have ever met in this country.
(Donaldson to Sam Hughes, 25 Nov 1915)
Samuel James Donaldson was a veteran of the 1885 Rebellion, a former member of the North-West Mounted Police, farmer, sportsman and politician. He was born on 12 March 1856 in Appleton, Canada West. Saskatchewan and its People (1924) noted, “his varied activities and numberless experiences serve to make his life story one of the most interesting of any of Canada’s native and adventurous sons.”
In 1876, Donaldson joined the Mounted Police in Ottawa. He was posted to Battleford and Prince Albert in the District of Saskatchewan. He retired from the force in 1882. During the Métis crisis in spring 1885, Donaldson joined the Prince Albert Scouts as a captain.
In 1889, he entered Prince Albert municipal politics as a town councilor (1889—1891, 1895—1908) and mayor (1892—1894). After Saskatchewan became a province in 1905, Donaldson was elected to the legislature as a member of the Provincial Right’s party.
In February 1915, he won a federal by-election in Prince Alberta on the Conservative ticket. By the end of the year, he was selected to raise the 188th Battalion from his home county. Along with other battalion commanders, Donaldson successfully lobbied the Militia Department to permit the recruitment of First Nations volunteers.
He sailed to England with over one thousand volunteers in October 1916. The 188th was subsequently absorbed into the 15th Reserve Battalion and Donaldson returned to Canada as a surplus officer. John Diefenbaker, who had enlisted with the 196th Battalion, later recalled, “Sam was a great fellow… Only his age prevented him seeing active service at the Front.”
Donaldson did not stand for re-election in 1917. He died on 14 March 1926.
Digitized Service File (LAC):