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Memorable Manitobans: Murdoch Mackay (1884-1962)

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Murdoch Mackay
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Physician, MLA (1927-1932).

Born in Boulardarie, Nova Scotia on 30 April 1884, son of John Mackay and Anna MacAulay, he attended high school there then, in August 1905, he went to Regina, Saskatchewan to attend the Regina Normal School. Following graduation, he taught school at various places in Saskatchewan until 1910. In October 1911, he enrolled in the Manitoba Medical College, graduating in November 1916.

On 14 February 1917, he married teacher Ruby May Gowland (1891-1980, daughter of James Gowland of Yorkton, Saskatchewan), two months before heading overseas as a medical officer in the Canadian Medical Army Corps. He served in England and France and experienced the loss of many young lives. He mailed a postcard showing fresh graves to his new bride, as a way of describing the desperate situation overseas.

Upon his return to Manitoba in November 1919, the couple settled into a home at 12 Victoria Avenue East in the promising new town of Transcona. In December 1919, he purchased the medical practice of D. V. S. Winkler. He continued until illness forced his retirement in December 1953. The couple raised four daughters: Ruby Mackay (1922-1995, wife of James Mason), Murdina Joanne Mackay (1924-2017, wife of William Richard Brownlee), Jean Mackay (?-?, wife of R. Nixon), and Donna Mackay (?-?, wife of J. Manser).

In 1927, he was elected to the Manitoba Legislature as a member of the Liberal Party. He became leader of the party in June 1931 when his predecessor Hugh Amos Robson was given a judgeship. Mackay served for one year before being defeated in the 1932 general election. He was not a candidate in the 1936 and 1941 elections, but was defeated in a bid for election in 1945.

He was an active member of the Transcona Memorial United Church, Canadian Legion, Knights of Pythias, AF & AM (Transcona Lodge), Shriners, Transcona Curling Club, Elmhurst Golf and Country Club, Canadian Club of Winnipeg, and Transcona Board of Trade (President).

He died at the St. Boniface Hospital on 18 December 1962 and was buried in the Transcona Cemetery. He is commemorated by Murdoch Mackay Collegiate in Winnipeg.

The Mackay home and garden

The Mackay home and garden (no date)
Source: Transcona Historical Museum

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Murdoch Mackay Collegiate (260 Redonda Street, Winnipeg)


1921 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.

The Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1929.

“D. M. MacKay, former Liberal chief, dies at 78,” Winnipeg Tribune, 20 December 1962, page 19.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 29 December 1962, page 25.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

River East Transcona School Division newsletter, The Torch, Spring 2005, submitted by Cheryl Moore.

Obituary [Murdina Joanne Brownlee], Winnipeg Free Press, 20 May 2017.

Obituaries and burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

We thank Oliver Bernuetz for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 6 September 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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