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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 M. Gowland (?-?), daughter of James Gowland of Yorkton, Saskatchewan, two months before heading overseas as a medical officer for the Canadian Medical Army Corps. Mackay 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 in the promising new town of Transcona, where they raised four daughters (Ruby, Murdina, Jean, and Donna), all graduates of Transcona’s Central School and the University of Manitoba. In December 1919, he purchased the medical practice of D. V. S. Winkler and immersed himself in it, being available for house calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in Transcona and beyond, into the countryside. He continued until illness forced his retirement in December 1953.

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 H. A. 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 Club, Canadian Club of Winnipeg, and Transcona Board of Trade (President).

He died in Winnipeg in December 1962 and was 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)


The Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1929.

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

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

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 7 July 2018

Memorable Manitobans

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