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Donald was born in about 1853, the son of Ewen MacLeod and Catherine Campbell, cottars on 2 Ruisgarry (Sandhill), then at Quay. His father died when he was just three years old. In 1871 he was living in Lamerick with his aunt Ann.
Donald became a seaman, marrying Catherine MacInnes in Tarbert in 1893. His boat was named Favourite. Donald and Catherine were to have two sons. Donald emigrated to Canada during the 1890s, whilst Catherine stayed at Ludag with the two boys. A few years later they followed him to Canada.