McKay, Donald (məkāˈ, məkĪˈ) [key], 1810–80, American shipbuilder, b. Nova Scotia. He opened his own shipyard in Newburyport, Mass., in 1841, then moved to Boston in 1845. He grew celebrated as designer and builder of the largest ships of his time and sleek, swift clippers, some of the most beautiful ships ever to sail the seas. Some of the vessels he built were the New World, a three-decker, the largest ship known in 1845; the Lightning and the James Baines, clippers which established new speed records for the long England-to-Australia route; and the Glory of the Seas, which in 1869 made a record run of 94 days from New York to San Francisco. He built several ships for the Union navy in the Civil War.
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