John Turner McDonald was born in Launceston on 7 Jan 1856, the fourth of eleven children of John McDonald (1825-1924), a dealer, and Ann Turner (1828-1883) who married in 1848 at Sculcoates, Hull, Yorkshire. John and Ann McDonald, with their two eldest children Richard and Agnes, arrived in Hobart as bounty passengers on the Australasia in 1852.
JT McDonald, an engineer, was the manager of Salisbury's Foundry in Launceston. On 26 Mar 1885 he married Alice Martha Hart, the eldest daughter of Anthony Hart. Their six children were all born in Launceston: Nola 1886; Vera 1888; Gilbert 1890; Annie 1893; and twins Anthony and Willis 1898. John was a tenor in the Exhibition Choir in 1891-92.
On 1 Apr 1907, John, his wife Alice and all six children were returning from an outing to George Town on the steam yacht Alice when the ferry Togo collided with the slower boat. Tragically, John and Alice, daughter Annie aged 13, and eight-year-old twin sons Anthony and Willis were all drowned. In all only six of the sixteen passengers survived the collision. The family is buried together at the Carr Villa Cemetery in Secion C 125-126. Two of John's brothers, Arthur and Frank, are also in the Family Album.