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Lieutenant Colonel the Honourable John Keiller MacKay
Official Portrait of the 19th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, John Keiller MacKay, by Moshe Matus.jpg
Born (1888-07-11)July 11, 1888
Died June 12, 1970(1970-06-12) (aged 81)
Place of birth Plainfield, Nova Scotia
Buried at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery
Allegiance Canadian
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Commands held 6th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery
Battles/wars Battle of the Somme
Battle of Vimy Ridge
Awards PC, OC, DSO, KStJ, VD, QC, Order of St. Lazarus, DCL, LLD
Other work 19th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario

Lieutenant Colonel John Keiller MacKay, PC, OC DSO, KStJ, VD, QC (July 11, 1888 – June 12, 1970), served as the 19th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 1957 to 1963.


John Keiller MacKay was born in 1888 in the village of Plainfield, Nova Scotia in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, the son of John Duncan and Bessie (Murray) MacKay. He was educated at the Pictou Academy, the Royal Military College (1909), Saint Francis Xavier University (BA 1912) and Dalhousie University (LL.B. 1922).


During World War I he served in, and later commanded, 6th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. He achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was mentioned in dispatches three times and wounded twice. MacKay won the Distinguished Service Order in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme and in 1918 was seriously wounded at Arras. He left the military after the war but was involved in the formation of the Royal Canadian Legion in 1925 and was its first National Vice-Chairman. He was a freemason and was initiated in 1925 to Ionic Lodge, #25 G.R.C.

He was called to the Nova Scotia bar in 1922 and the Ontario bar in 1923. He was a senior partner of a law firm, "MacKay, Matheson & Martin" in Toronto and became a specialist in criminal law. He was appointed a King's Counsel in 1933. He was appointed to the Supreme Court of Ontario in 1935 and to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 1950.

LCol The Hon. John Keiller MacKay served as His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 1957 to 1963, and opened the Lieutenant Governor's New Year's Levee to the general public for the first time.

In 1967, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He was also a Knight of Grace of the Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem and was responsible for bringing the Military and Hospitaler Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem to Canada.

He died in Toronto in 1970 and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto (section Q-154).

John Keiller MacKay Gravestone

The gravestone of MacKay (section Q-154) in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery

He was married to Katherine 'Kay' Jean MacLeod and had three sons.


  • the "Keiller MacKay Park" at North Bay, Ontario includes 52 homes for senior citizens.
  • the "Keiller MacKay Room" in the Bloomfield Centre of Saint Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, which opened in 1973 features a life-size portrait of Keiller MacKay in full Highland dress.
  • Major C. I. N. MacLeod, the St. Francis Xavier university's piper, composed a musical tribute composed for the late Lieutenant Colonel the Honourable John Keiller MacKay.
  • The Lieutenant Colonel The Honourable John Keller Memorial Trophy, which is awarded for Canadian Armed Forces - Regular and Reserve Marching Formations, was named in his honour.[1]


"Many new things are useful, but the experience of the ages must not be repudiated. Tradition has its failures but is it not so that tradition is the sum of those enduring values, which have been kept alive through all mutations and help to give us continual stability and direction to life?"

“The state is made for the individual, not the individual for the state.”

"Too much authority is like alcohol in its effects on the brain. There is no excuse for infringing on the rights of the individual on the pretext that you are defending the freedom of the state."[2]


Keiller Mackay


  • 4237 Dr. Adrian Preston & Peter Dennis (Edited) "Swords and Covenants" Rowman And Littlefield, London. Croom Helm. 1976.
  • H16511 Dr. Richard Arthur Preston "To Serve Canada: A History of the Royal Military College of Canada" 1997 Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1969.
  • H16511 Dr. Richard Arthur Preston "Canada's RMC - A History of Royal Military College" Second Edition 1982
  • H16511 Dr. Richard Preston "R.M.C. and Kingston: The effect of imperial and military influences on a Canadian community" 1968 Kingston, Ontario.
  • H1877 R. Guy C. Smith (editor) "As You Were! Ex-Cadets Remember". In 2 Volumes. Volume I: 1876-1918. Volume II: 1919-1984. RMC. Kingston, Ontario. The R.M.C. Club of Canada. 1984
Government offices
Preceded by
Louis Orville Breithaupt
Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
Succeeded by
William Earl Rowe

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