Fonds MG 568 - McConnell Family fonds

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McConnell Family fonds

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Reference code

MG 568

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Dates of creation area


  • [1903]-2015 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

2.04 metres of textual records, 1171 photographs, 305 negatives, 330 slides, 126 postcards, 67 audio cassettes, 1 VHS tape, memorabilia.

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

John James McConnell was born in Trenta, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland in 1925. Two months prior to his first birthday, his family immigrated to Canada, where they farmed in the Sanctuary and Dinsmore area of Saskatchewan. McConnell attended the University of Saskatchewan, earning a degree in Agricultural Economics (1951). He began a 21-year career with the Saskatchewan public service, working for the departments of Co-operation and Co-operative Development, and Agriculture. During this period he hosted a radio show, “Good Listening for Good Farming,” and a television show, “Rural Route Saskatchewan.” His interests in print and other media prompted him to get his MA in Communication Arts from Michigan State University (1968). McConnell also worked for the federal civil service, in Ottawa and Saskatoon, for Agriculture Canada. He retired in 1984. John McConnell died on 25 January 2016 in Saskatoon.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Doreen Ratcliffe was born in Regina on 17 July 1927. She earned a BA from the University of Saskatchewan, and worked as an executive secretary and advertising copywriter in Vancouver and Regina prior to meeting John McConnell, whom she married in 1957. They had three children; all of whom graduated from the University of Saskatchewan. In addition to raising her family, Doreen was active as pianist for her church, with the CGIT, and with the Canadian Institute of International Affairs and the World Food Program. John and Doreen shared interests in politics, public affairs and the environment, community and social issues; and both were freelance writers, often collaborating on articles. Doreen McConnell died on 31 July 2007.

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Biographical history

Elma Florence Ratcliffe (nee Robson) was born on 21 September 1897 in Yellowgrass, Saskatchewan. The family moved to Regina in 1912. Elma was a school teacher in Yellowgrass and Regina until 1926. She died on 5 April 1986.

Name of creator

([ca. 1882]-1968)

Biographical history

James Alexander Ratcliffe was born [ca. 1882] near Oshawa, Ontario, and moved to Saskatchewan in 1907. He was employed for a number of years with the Saskatchewan Department of Highways. He died on 4 January 1968.

Custodial history

John McConnell outlived his wife and two of their children; as a result, some documentation created or acquired by Doreen was found within John’s estate. This was not as clearly the case with the records of their children Elizabeth and John; reference to their son, however, can be found in material created by John McConnell. Their surviving daughter has also provided material; and transferred the material found in John McConnell’s custody at the time of his death.

Scope and content

: This fonds contains the personal records of an extended family, including photographs, correspondence, and diaries. It documents their interests, careers, and family life predominantly two generations – the Ratcliffes and McConnells. The first accrual documents the interests, careers and family of John and Doreen McConnell and their daughter, Mary Ann. It includes materials related to McConnell’s work in communications, his work for the Canadian and Saskatchewan governments, together with materials relating to his interest in the environment and social and international development issues. It also includes materials relating to his wife, Doreen, who predeceased him. The second accrual adds the records of Doreen’s parents, the Ratcliffes, which includes documents related to their personal life and interests, Elma’s travel, James’ World War I service, and family life.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated to the University Archives & Special Collections by Mary Ann McConnell-Boehm in 2016 and 2023. Further accruals are expected.


The two accruals have been arranged separately.

The first accrual (1114-084) has been arranged into three sous-fonds, for records relating to Doreen; to John; and to their daughter Mary Ann.

The second accrual (2022-102, 2022-127) has been arranged into three series, for records relating to the Ratcliffe Family, the McConnell Family, and Miscellaneous, with files arranged alphabetically within.

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Some files are restricted; these are noted in the finding aid. Please consult an archivist.

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