Donald French

Fred Langan 

Donald French, who has died at the age of 98, was a long-time Knowlton resident and probably the second to last veteran of the Second World War living in the area. Don joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943 at the age of 19 and was an air gunner in three different aircrafts, mostly the Halifax bomber. He flew over Europe and served in North Africa and Sicily. Fifty percent of bomber crews were killed in action. Don French was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross. He always attended the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Knowlton, and on more than one occasion, he teared up remembering his lost colleagues. 

Donald French was born in Montreal in October 1924. His father, Charles Daniel French, was a provincial politician, representing Compton. Charles French was Minister of Mines in the Maurice Duplessis government from 1948 until his death in 1954. Don’s mother was Emily MacAulay; his grand- daughter Emily was named after her great-grandmother. 

After the war, Don French was a partner in a construction firm, Kennedy Construction, which specialized in road construction. His wife, Evelyn, says that Don was involved with the rebuilding of the road through the Bolton Pass. At the time, Don French and his late wife, Patricia, lived at Sally’s Pond, later moving to several locations in Knowlton, ending at a house on Sugar Hill. 

Don French was a devoted family man. He was president of the Brome Lake Boat Club when his children, Christy, Ken and Jan were active there. He was also a director of the Knowlton Golf Club and, for decades, had a regular game every Saturday morning at eight o’clock. Don French married Evelyn Blackwood in 2011. He was in good health until the end and proud of the fact that he was still legal to drive at the age of 98. Don French is survived by his wife Evelyn, his daughter Jan and five grandchildren. His daughter, Christy and son Ken, predeceased him.