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Ewen was born in 1894, the son of fisherman John MacAskill and Mary Ann MacDonald of Rubha Mor. His father drowned when Ewen was just 5 years old, and the family moved to Backhill. Ewen was a pupil at Berneray School between 1900 and 1915. He fought in both World Wars, narrowly missing a bullet during the Second.
He emigrated to Canada, marrying his wife Ester in Montreal, where his sister Ann lived. He returned to Berneray in the 1950s, making his home at 9 Backhill. He subsequently separated from his wife.