Memorable Manitobans: Albert Edward McKenzie (1870-1964)
Born at Wilcox Lake, Ontario on 1 August 1870, he came with his family to Brandon in 1882 and graduated from the Brandon Collegiate Institute. He took over his father’s seed and grain business in 1897, shifting the emphasis to the selling of seeds. The company issued its first seed catalogue in 1900. He built up A. E. McKenzie Seeds into the largest business of its kind in western Canada, eventually employing 100 people, and operating offices in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. He purchased the McFayden Seed Company in 1942. Employees were very loyal, through the fact that he never laid off any of his workers during the Great Depression.
He worked tirelessly to keep Brandon College open during the Depression, and to expand the learning facilities there. He often travelled with J. R. C. Evans to raise funds for the College and, in 1938, he headed a committee from the Chamber of Commerce whose job was to keep it open. In 1941 he received a Honorary doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Manitoba, in recognition of his efforts on behalf of Brandon College. In 1945 he deeded ninety per cent of the shares in his company to the province on condition that profits from the operation went to Brandon College. He established the A. E. McKenzie Foundation, which benefits Brandon University in perpetuity.
In 1902, he married Laura Elizabeth Bell (1874-1943) of Carman. They had two daughters: Marjorie Bell McKenzie (1903-?) and Kathleen Louise McKenzie (1907-?, wife of Walter C. Roberts). A Christian Scientist, he was an active leader of the Young Men’s Christian Association. He was President of the Canadian Phoenix Fire Insurance Company and the Brandon Board of Trade, and a contributor to the Brandon Community Chest and Salvation Army. He was a charter member of the Brandon Kiwanis Club.
He died at the Brandon General Hospital on 25 September 1964 and was buried in the Brandon Cemetery. He is commemorated by the A. E. McKenzie Building at Brandon University.
Birth registrations [Marjorie Bell McKenzie, Katherine Louise McKenzie], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.
The Story of Manitoba by F. H. Schofield, Winnipeg: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913.
“Dr. McKenzie dies here at 94,” Brandon Sun, 26 September 1964, page 1.
Obituary, Brandon Sun, 26 September 1964, page 15.
Trade And Commerce, August 1961, Man of the Month, A. E. McKenzie.
Obituary, Brandon Sun, 26 September 1964.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 24 May 2018