The Clan MacKenzie Society of Canada

The origin of the Clan Mackenzie Society of Canada goes back to 1986.

Alan McKenzie attended the Fergus Highland Games and was surprised to find no Mackenzie clan tent. Given the prominent role the Mackenzie name has featured in Canadian history – two MacKenzie Prime Ministers and an explorer – Sir Alexander MacKenzie, the first man to cross Canada by land, this seemed disappointing.  Alan did some research and communicated with the Clan Mackenzie Society in the Americas, the Clan MacKenzie Society of Nova Scotia and the late, the Rt. Hon. The Earl of Cromartie in Scotland, Chief of the Clan. Everyone responded enthusiastically for the Canadians to set up a branch for the whole of Canada.

David MacKenzie, the President of the Society in the USA appointed Alan as Commissioner for Canada. Alan advertised for volunteers in the newspapers and as a result Margaret McKenzie Masters volunteered to become the first Secretary of the new Society and Bob MacKenzie, a retired piper joined the first committee.

The Society was a part of the Clan Mackenzie Society in the USA and the full title was, Clan MacKenzie Society in the Americas – Canadian Chapter.

From these small beginnings the Society grew through recruitment of members at various Highland Games in Ontario.

Roddy Mackenzie, a lawyer in Vancouver got in contact and he was duly appointed Commissioner for Western Canada. Roddy wrote to 4000 Mackenzies from Alberta to British Columbia and the membership became established right across Canada.

A year or two after the formation of the Canadian chapter, Norman MacKenzie, well known and respected in North America and beyond as one of the finest drum majors in the world, awarded the Queen Mothers Silver Dish from Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for his services to the Toronto Scottish Regiment, brought his skills to the clan as an effective commissioner. Norman helped design the first colour clan brochure, the first society web site, an impressive tent with fine displays, as well as a clan van with tartan and clan logo proudly displayed. Norman would go on to serve both as commissioner, and President of the Society.

The clan grew a great deal in the early years and it soon became necessary to establish the Society in Canada separate from the United States Chapter. The prime reason for this was the opportunity for the Clan to attain charitable status in Canada and enabling the Society to benefit from the Province of Ontario’s newly formed gaming laws and obtain revenue from the Nevada Lottery ticket sales.

Around this time the present Earl of Cromartie was seeking funds to renovate Castle Leod, the last Mackenzie castle still in Mackenzie hands. Canada became the biggest subscriber to the Castle Leod Project as it is called and has contributed over £56,000 from the Canadian members and the Clan Society itself.

The Clan Society attends many Highland Games and Scottish Festivals across Canada. It holds dinners, picnics and other events as well as educational meetings. The Society also assists members with Scottish genealogy and in recent years has established a DNA Project to help members find close relationships with others of the same name and matching DNA results.

In 2009 The Clan MacKenzie Society of Canada, joined with the Clan Societies of New Zealand and the United States to take part in the International Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh, Scotland.

In addition to 15 Clan Commissioners who manage their own specific territories, the Society is lead by an elected executive. Alan McKenzie has filled the role of President for several years, until 2013 when our current President Sharie Argue, agreed to stand for election. For more information please visit our Commissioners page.

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