Memorable Manitobans: George McKay (1854-1949)
Born at Fort Ellice on 25 May 1854, one of eleven children of an HBC Chief Factor William McKay. In 1871 he received a Church Missionary Society studentship to attend St. John’s College. Three years later, he joined Rev. John Hines at Fort Ellice with intentions to serve as an interpreter and prospective schoolmaster. Instead, in 1875 he took charge of St. Mary’s Church at Prince Albert, NWT [now Saskatchewan]. He later returned to St. John’s and, in 1877, went to England and attended Sidney Sussex College. Ordained a deacon and priest in June 1878, he was assigned missionary work among the Aboriginal people of southern Alberta. During the 1885 North West Rebellion, he served as a scout for General T. B. Strange’s troops then engaged in missionary work around Prince Albert for three years, later taking charge of St. Alban’s Church.
In 1888 he married Wilhelmina McLean (1865-1947), daughter of John McLean. They had three sons: Lawrence Montague Douglas McKay (1889-1953), Arthur Pembrooke Stanley McKay (1891-1952), and Norris Hume McKay (1893-1944). In 1893, in poor health, McKay sought a milder climate so he accepted a ministry at Vancouver, British Columbia. Finding the weather there disagreeable, he requested a transfer to the heart of the Rockies at Donald, BC where he remained for four years.
He took an extended leave of absence from clerical duties in 1897, to join a party of men from Manitoba heading to the Klondike Gold Rush. Arriving at Dawson City, he staked a claim on Bonanza Creek but made little from it. After some time in the Yukon, he returned to his family at Donald. In 1900, he accepted a ministry in South Dakota. He moved to Wyoming in 1917 where he worked for another 10 years. He retired to the Black Hills and died at Sturgis, South Dakota on 12 December 1949.
“Changes mind to please mother,” Winnipeg Free Press, 20 April 1963, page 28.
Fighting Parson by George McKay, Kelowna, British Columbia, 1968.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 2 November 2019
Back to top of page