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A Very Special Gathering

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

We knew it was going to be a special meeting as soon as we got off the elevator on the second floor of the Heritage Museum in Astoria – we were not ‘late’, but we found the hallway filled with FOM members and guests chatting and patiently waiting to enter the gallery area of the old, Circa 1904 Astoria City Hall.  We were thrilled to see so many familiar faces – and a number of new faces as well. We – all of the Friends of MacDonald members – are pleased and gratified that our membership stays strong.  It is often difficult for organizations such as ours to remain healthy over the years; that said, we feel that our success stems from the allure Ranald MacDonald himself. As far as historical figures go, I think I speak for all of our members when I say that Ranald is definitely one of the more interesting characters to spring out of the Pacific Northwest, if not America itself.

We began our meeting by welcoming charter member and former FOM Chairman Prof. Stephan Kohl, former chairman Jim Mockford, and author of ‘Ranald MacDonald: Pacific Rim Adventurer’, JoAnn Roe, who, at age 93, drove BY HERSELF to Astoria from Bellingham, WA to be with us at this year’s luncheon. We were also honored to have Consul General and Mrs. Uchiyama of the Japan Consular Office in Portland, Chinook Council Vice Chair Sam Robinson and his better half Mildred (who entertained us with Chinook drums and songs of gratitude to the Creator who watches over us all), and local Chinook artist Charles Funk and his wife Mary. Members of Clan Donald were also in attendance, as well as visitors from Montana and Japan. Jim Mockford reminded us of our history as a Committee of the Clatsop County Historical Society, and – with occasional corroboration from Professor Kohl – told the story of the early days of FOM when Bruce Berney of Astoria and the late Mas Tomita of Epson Portland (among others) work against all odds to establish FOM. ~ Chairman Mas Yatabe




Happy 2014 A Little Bit Late

Friday, January 31st, 2014

2014 is already approaching February! I sincerely hope the beginning of everyone’s year has been smooth and that you all are in good health and that the year ahead will be everything you want it to be.


At 3:00 p.m. on October 6th, 2013 three Japanese – along with several Americans – were at Fort Astoria (Ft. George) National Historic Site. The three were gazing at the stone monument entitled “The Birth Place of Ranald MacDonald”. The scene was not unusual, but it was quite historic! 時は2013年10月6日午後3時、数人のアメリカ人に混ざって3人の日本人がFort Astoria 史跡公園を訪れていた。3人はその一遇に建つ「マクドナルド生誕の地」と刻まれた石碑に見入っていた。それ自体珍しい光景ではなかったが、それは大変歴史的な出来事であった。

Ranald MacDonald was born at Fort Astoria (Fort George) on February 3, 1824 the son of Archibald McDonald and Princess Sunday, a daughter of Chinook Indian Chief. In 1848, Ranald – a grown to be a strong 24 year-old sailor – succeeded in landing on an a small island in the Sea of Japan off northern- most Hokkaido. At that time it was generally regarded as an unattainable venture to enter Japan; however, with the careful planning of a “faked shipwreck”, Ranald was saved by Ainu people and the result was a successful landing onto Japanese soil. Soon after that, Ranald was arrested as an unlawful intruder and was transported to Nagasaki under “house arrest” at Daihian, where the translators of Dejima were taught English by Ranald. That is why Ranald is regarded as the first Native English Teacher in Japan. ラナルド・マクドナルドは、スコットランド人アーチボルド・マクドナルドを父に、チヌーク族族長の娘、プリンセス・サンデーを母とし、ここFort Astoria (Fort George) で1824年2月3日に産声をあげた。そして1848年、24歳のたくましい船員に成長したラナルドは北海道北端の日本海に浮かぶ利尻島への単独上陸に成功した。当時鎖国令を敷いていた日本への入国は無謀・・・と思われていたが、ラナルドは緻密な計画に従い遭難を偽装、かけつけたアイヌに救助され、結果的に目的を果たしたのだった。しかし、その後不法入国者・・・として幕府に捕えられ長崎へ護送された後、座敷牢大悲庵に幽閉されたが、そこで出島の通詞達に英語を教えた事が今日マクドナルドを「日本で最初のネイティブ英語教師」と位置付けている所以である。

The three Japanese at Fort Astoria were two students, Yuuki Komatsu and Tatsuya Koujiya of Rishiri High School and their principle, Mr. Hiroyuki Tsukamoto. The three had arrived at Portland International Airport a day earlier, October 5, 2013. So it was that 165 years since Ranald landed on Rishiri Island, three people from Rishiri came to visit Astoria, the birth place of Ranald MacDonald. There are only two towns on Rishiri Island: Rishiri-cho and Rishirifuji-cho. In December 2012 the citizens, the businesses and other groups in both towns got together and established “A Support Group for MacDonald Scholarship Funds” in order to support the only high school on the Island, Rishiri Senior High School. The objective is to send a few students annually to the US, in particular, to Oregon and Washington states, where Ranald had close ties – and thus encourage students to study English and assist students to acquire an International mind and etiquette”. The next few pages are copies of newspaper articles, photos and the comments by Yuuki-kun and Tatsuya-kun from Rishiri Senior High School:

Fort Astoria に居た3人の日本人は北海道利尻高校から前日(10月5日)ポートランド国際空港に到着した留学生の小松祐希君及び糀屋達也君と付添いの塚本宏之校長先生であった。オレゴニアン、ラナルド・マクドナルドが利尻島に上陸して以来、実に165年間を経た2013年に利尻島からの3人はラナルドの生誕地、アストリアへやって来たのであった。利尻島内には利尻町及び利尻富士町という2つの町が在るが両町の町民や企業、団体が島の将来の為協力し同島内唯一の利尻高校を支援し元気付けようと2012年12月に「マクドナルド奨学基金支援の会」を立ち上げた。その趣旨は毎年何人かの利尻高校生を米国(特にマクドナルドゆかりの地、オレゴンとワシントン州)へ短期留学させ、生徒達の英語学習欲を促し、同時に国際感覚養成に役立てるというものだった。 以下、小松君及び糀屋君のオレゴン及びワシントン州への第1回留学に関する新聞記事や写真、両君の感想等を掲載させて頂く:

ご報告: 2013年5月11日のFOM年次総会席上ご承認頂きました「FOMよりマクドナルド奨学基金    支援の会への寄付10口分として¥50,000」を実行致しました。

Report: We have donated 50,000 yen to The MacDonald Scholarship Fund in Rishiri Island from FOM General Funds per approval during the annual luncheon meeting in Astoria on May 11, 2013.

FOM Chairman 谷田部 勝/Masaru “Mas” Yatabe

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朝日新聞 Asahi Shimbun

Asahi Shimbun

Our Overall Impressions

3年 小松 祐希/Yuuki Komatsu, Senior

僕は今回、アメリカ研修留学に行って本当によかったと思っています。 それは、たくさんの人に出会い、たくさんの事を学び、広く視野を広げることが出来たからです。ですが、1つ後悔をした事が在ります。それは「もっと英語の勉強をしておけばよかった」ということです。 アメリカでの生活の中で1番困ったのが「英会話」でした。あまり英語が話せなくても楽しく8日間をすごすことができましたが、ちゃんと英語が話せればもっともっと楽しく充実した8日間になったのかな。と思うととても悔しく思いました。来年度からもこの事業が続いて行くという事なので、次回の留学生には僕のように後悔をせず心からアメリカでの生活を楽しんできてもらいたいです。なので、学校での英語勉強の徹底をした方がいいと思いました。このような体験ができたのもマクドナルド奨学金支援の会の方々や利尻町、利尻富士町両町のご支援ご協力があったからです。今回学んだことを残りの高校生活、そして卒業後の学生生活に活かしていこうと思います。この度は、本当にありがとうございました。

I am truly glad that I went to America to study this time. It enabled me to meet many people, learn many things and gave me a broader perspective. However, I do have one regret: I should have studied English harder. The most troublesome thing for me was English conversation. It made me feel sorry when I realized the 8 days would have been a lot more enjoyable if I had had better command of English – even though those 8 days were fun days. I understand that this program will continue on to next year and beyond; I hope future participants will enjoy the experience fully and without regret. Therefore, it will be a good idea to make sure the student(s) study English seriously and with diligence. I was able to have this valuable experience because of the assistance and cooperation of the people of ‘MacDonald Scholarship Fund Support Group’ and the Towns of Rishiri and Rishirifuji. I intend to apply and utilize what I learned to the rest of my High School life and my life after graduation. Thank you very much.

2年 糀屋 達也/Tatsuya Koujiya, Junior


Studying abroad was a very good experience for me and visiting America for the first time gave me many surprises. I will always remember going to school in America and exchanging ideas with the students I met. The most enjoyable thing was to go to class together (with American students) even though we had language difficulty and had to depend on our hands and body gestures a lot for communication. I was alone among foreigners for a few days during the home stay, and I gained confidence in myself when I was able to work out a problem by myself. In the future I hope I can apply the worldwide perspective which I gained through experiencing the cultural differences between Japan and America during the study tour, experiences I could not have enjoyed had I stayed in Japan. Last, but not least, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the people of the Towns of Rishiri and Rishirifuji and the members of ‘MacDonald Scholarship’ funds. If I could go again next year, I would love to.

Gates Ajar ~~ Volume 1 Number 1 – Summer 1988

Saturday, June 11th, 1988

We Are Organized!

“Friends of MacDonald” has been organized as a Clatsop County Historical Society chartered committee.  It honors Ranald MacDonald, a native Astorian who, in 1848, risked his life on a mission of friendship to forbidden Japanese shores.

The Charter was presented May 20 by Heather Reynolds, president of the Historical Society.

The organization will seek to find and preserve MacDonald memorabilia, to promote publication of newsletters, books, articles and other materials about MacDonald, to hold seminars and other educational programs, and to encourage museum exhibits and visits.

WEST OF THE SUN ~ A Tokyo Branch of Friends of MacDonald has been organized with Hiromichi Shibata as Manager.  Extensive press coverage in Japanese language publications includes Oregon Trail Magazine, The North American Post, Kaigai Chuzai, Japan Economic Journal and others.

Charter members of Friends of MacDonald include Hugh Ackroyd, Aihara Agency Inc., Yuji Aisaka, Clifford B. Alterman, Wayne Atteberry, Mr. & Mrs. George Azumano, Frank Bauman, Borden Beck, Jr., Floyd Bennett, Bruce Berney, J.E. “Bud” Clark, Joan Choi, Marilyn Cochrane Davis, Brian Doherty, Epson America Inc., Ted & Carrie Etzel, Nancie Fadeley, Bill Feuchtwanger, Michael Foster, Vera Gault; Evelyn Hankel, Edith Henningsgaard, Gene Hogan, Itogumi USA Corp., Japan-American Society of Oregon, Toshiyuki Kasai, Eizo Kaneyasu, Shigeru Kimura, Isamu Kobayashi, Stephen Kohl, Kiyoshi Komatsu, Hiroyuki Kurumizawa, Lahaina Restoration Foundation, Betty Leu, Allan Mann, Stephen McConnel, Randal & Ross McEvers, Jerry McMurry, Barbara Minard, Shirley Minard, Hope Moberg, Jim Mockford, Dr. & Mrs. R.P. Moore, Kenneth Munford, Eiji Nishiya, Hiroaki Nishitani, Ryuji Noda, Mamoru Ofuku, Pacific Power & Light Co., Peat Marwick Mann & Co., Barbara C. Peeples, Phyllis Reuter, Yasuo Skaniwa, Shoichi Sakanushi;  Herbert & Barbara Schwab, Arnold Seeborg, Hiroaki Sekizawa, Katsuhiko Shimodaira, Shokookai of Portland, Standard Insurance Co., Richard & Helen Slagle, Donald Sterling, Hisao Sugi, Sam & Kitzie Stern, Yuji Takahashi abd the Rishiri Rotary Club, Isaac Tevet, Mr. & Mrs. Dick Thompson, Masakatsu Tomita, Frank Tomori, Morio Toyoshima, Paul Van der Veldt, Susanna Von Reibold, Ronald L. Walquist, Akira Watanabe, Betty Williams, William Winn, Katsu Yamazaki, Ichiro Yokoyama.

OFFICERS ELECTED – Mas Tomita, president of Epson Portland, Inc., chairman; Bruce Berney, City of Astoria librarian; and Stephen Kohl, PhD. of the University of Oregon, both vice chairmen; and Barbara Peeples, Portland public relations counselor, secretary; Hiromichi Shibata, Tokyo Branch Manager.

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Monument Dedicated to Honor Astorian Ranald MacDonald,

Japan’s First Teacher of English

ASTORIA, May 21 ~~ A monument of American granite was dedicated this day on the site of the old Fort Astoria [Ft. George] in honor of Ranald MacDonald, born here in 1824 to a father descended from Highland Scots and his wife, a Chinook princess.

The jubilant cry of bagpipes recalled the Scottish heritage as dignitaries representing four nations joined 200 other guests for an outdoor ceremony beneath clear, blue skies and a hot sun.  Ranald MacDonald, dead for almost a century, was being honored by his hometown.

The ceremony recognized MacDonald’s 1848 visit to Japan, during the period in which Japan shut its doors to foreigners and threatened Christian intruders with death.  MacDonald, carrying a bible and armed only with native ingenuity and goodwill, made a plan which landed him on Japan’s Rishiri island and permitted him, even though imprisoned, to learn Japanese and to become Japan’s first teacher of English.

Today, MacDonald is widely known in Japan as a pioneer ambassador of international friendship.  A monument on Rishiri tells of his arrival; books and magazine articles have been published, including a Japanese translation of his own story.  Guests at the dedication included a crew from Hokkaido Broadcasting Film Company, which has produced a documentary about his life.  Speakers during the monument dedication included Akira Watanabe, Consul-General of Japan; Andrew Hay, British Consul; State Senator Joan Dukes; Oregon Clan Donald Commissioner Marilyn Davis; Astoria Mayor Edith Henningsgaard; descendants of Chinook Chief Com’Comly, MacDonald’s maternal grandfather, and of Archibald McDonald, his father.

Bruce Berney, who is vice president of the Clatsop County Historical Society, was master of ceremonies.  Dr. Stephen Kohl presented an historical vignette; John Cooper, CCHS executive director, unveiled the monument and Kenichi Tomita, 10, son of Mas Tomita, chairman of Friends of MacDonald, read the Japanese text.

Ranald's English Students

Moriyama and Tokojiro, two of MacDonald’s students,became chief interpreters to Commodore Perry

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HOKKAIDO, JAPAN ” …  We are deeply impressed that the starting point of relations [between Oregonians and Hokkaido-ans to further mutual friendships] was marked before the Civil War or the opening of Japan’s ports with the visit of an American named Ranald MacDonald.  Mr. MacDonald knocked on Japan’s stubbornly closed doors and taught his native tongue to the Samurai.  Indeed, his visit of some 140 years ago was an historic scheme of grandeur … We hope that the dedication of the MacDonald Monument will serve to remind us of this brave man who cut a road of friendship based upon trust and understanding … ”  ~ Takahiro Yokomichi, Governor of Hokkaido

” … MR. EINOSUKE MORIYAMA, who was taught by Mr. MacDonald, had contributed to the civilization and enlightenment of Yokohama City in Kanagawa Prefecture.  I sincerely expect that Friends of MacDonald will also carry out brilliant achievements for friendly relations between the United States and Japan …” ~ Kazuji Nagasu, Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture

” … HE IS UNDOUBTEDLY of special interest to us because of his presence in Lahaina at the height of the whaling period and his unique tie to Japan … We look forward to being a member of the Friends of MacDonald.” ~ Lynn McCrory, Lahaina Restoration Foundation, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

” … I REGRET THAT I cannot come to Astoria to take part in the ceremony.  On the same day I have a prior commitment to give a lecture about Ranald MacDonald to a group of high school English teachers in Toyohashi City.  Ranald MacDonald deserves special recognition as a memorable contributor to Japanese history.” ~ Akira Yoshimura, author of Festival of the Sea, a book about MacDonald and E. Moriyama

” … HE GREATLY IMPRESSED the Japanese with his intelligence, politeness and integrity and succeeded in communicating friendship and trust … Such a wonderful story should be handed down to Japanese generations to come.  I believe that this monument will … promote the friendship that he began between Japan and the United States.” ~ Masaki Takahashi, of the Rishiri island Rotary Club, which last year erected a monument at the place where Ranald landed in 1848.

” … EVEN AFTER 140 YEARS MacDonald’s great courage and action have left a deep impression to not only Rishiri Citizens but also to all of the Japanese … Although Rishiri, Nagasaki and Astoria are a great distance apart, they share the same spirit of friendship which crosses the Pacific Ocean.” ~ Toshi Adachi, Town Mayor of Higashi Rishiri

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Ranald MacDonald, a descendant of Ranald MacDonald’s father (Archibald McDonald) was a guest at the first MacDonald seminar May 20.  Young Ranald is a student at Montana State University in Bozeman, where he is studying political science and public administration.  he and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Ranald McDonald* of Niarada, MT, made the long trip here to participate.

Other special guests at the ceremony included descendants of Chief Com’Comly and the Stanton families, who are descendants of Jenny Lynch, MacDonald’s niece.  It was at Mrs. Lynch’s home that Ranald MacDonald died in 1894 whispering the Japanese words of farewell:  “Sayonara, sayonara.”

[* Ranald MacDonald, who restored the “a” in MacDonald that his father and some other relatives abandoned, never married.  There are many collateral descendants, related through his step-brothers and sister, Com’Comly’s cousins and his parents’ siblings.]

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MACDONALD SEMINAR – Prof. Torao Tomita of Rikkyo University, Tokyo, a leading Japanese authority on American Indians and also the Japanese translator of Ranald MacDonald’s memoir, was a key speaker on May 20 when Friends of MacDonald sponsored a seminar about MacDonald in Astoria.  More than 100 guests attended.

Dr. Tomita suggested two reasons for MacDonald’s decision to visit Japan:  one, he said, was the prejudice he faced because of his Indian heritage; the other, his theory about the ancestral kinship of the Indian and Japanese people.

Prof. Stephen Kohl of the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Oregon, and long a student of MacDonald, spoke of the peril MacDonald risked by visiting Japan.  Kohl credited MacDonald’s “enduring belief in human nature – if you act like a human being, people will treat you like one” – for his success.

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A concise story of Ranald MacDonald’s adventure, taken from the book Five Foreigners in Japan by Herbert H, Gowen, has been re-printed by Friends of MacDonald.  Publication was made possible through a grant from Epson Portland Inc. and with the permission of Fleming H. Revell Co.  The booklet includes photos of MacDonald, members of his family and  Japanese students and a map of his voyage from Rishiri to Matsumae.  It is available for $2.50 plus 50 cents postage from the Clatsop County Historical Society.

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THANK YOU, CLAN DONALD:  Marilyn David, Oregon commissioner of Scottish Clan Donald, to which Ranald MacDonald belonged, presented a clan memento to Bruce Berney of the Friends of MacDonald during her talk at monument dedication ceremonies.  MacDonald was proud of his Scottish ancestors, who came from Glencoe in the Scottish highlands.  Oregon members of Clan Donald have themselves dedicated a monument, at the Old Scotch Church in North Plains, Oregon, in memory of the Massacre of Glencoe.

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MACDONALD EXHIBIT ON DISPLAY AT CCHS:  A Ranald MacDonald exhibit is now on display as the Heritage Museum of the Clatsop County historical Society, located at 1618 Exchange St., just a block east of the MacDonald monument.  Visitors will find maps, books and photographs about Ranald MacDonald and his voyage across what he called “this placid sea”.

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LIBRARIAN WITH A CAUSE REALIZES A DREAM:  Ranald MacDonald’s rebirth in Astoria, Oregon can be traced back to 1972.  Bruce Berney, director of the Astoria Public Library, was culling seldom-read books from library shelves.  One of those books was Ranald MacDonald’s story of his visit to Japan in 1848 and his experience as Japan’s first teacher of English.  Berney’s interest was piqued; the librarian had been an English teacher in Japan in 1961-63.  Berney set the book aside for his own reading and this met Ranald.

On February 3, 1974, the 150th anniversary of MacDonald’s birth (also Berney’s birthday, coincidentally) Astoria Friends of the Library celebrated.  Slowly, interest in the incredible story grew.  Dr. Torao Tomita came to Astoria to learn more about MacDonald, and eventually translated his book into Japanese.

Berney wanted a MacDonald monument erected.  He felt it would interest Japanese seamen visiting Astoria and other tourists, but money was needed.  The State’s growing Japanese business community was approached.  A talk to the Board of Shokookai of Portland stimulated the interest of Board Member Mas Tomita, president of Epson Portland, inc., who had read the MacDonald story in a Japanese magazine but had not realized that “Fort George” was better known as Fort Astoria.

Steve Kohl of the University of Oregon and other became involved.  The result:  our international organization, FRIENDS of MACDONALD, is in existence because Bruce Berney found a book no one had read for five years.

Berney told guests at the dedication ceremony:  “My dream has been realized.”

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