Dr. Robert Tait McKenzie — Obituary

Dr. Robert Tait McKenzie, distinguished Canadian born sculptor and physician, died suddenly at his home in Philadelphia, on April 28, 1938, aged seventy.

Dr. McKenzie was born in Almonte, Ont., in May, 1867, the son of Rev. William McKenzie and Catherine Shields McKenzie. Educated first at the Ottawa Co1legiate Institute, Dr. McKenzie graduated in medicine from McGill University in 1892. Subsequently he was a house surgeon at the Montreal General Hospital, a ship ‘s surgeon, and house physician to the Earl and Countess of Aberdeen when Lord Aberdeen was Governor-General in 1897.

Dr. McKenzie came to McGill first as a student in 1885. He was a lecturer in anatomy and physical education, and physical director at the university from 1894 to 1904. He left to become physical director at the University of Pennsylvania. He was eminent in two separate fields, as a specialist in physical education and as a sculptor. Among the more important of his works which may be mentioned are the memorial to commemorate sixty-years of Confederation, in the House of Commons, Ottawa; also in the Parliament Buildings is the Baker Memorial. The King’s collection of art at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, includes his “Blighty”. In the Princes’ Street Gardens, Edinburgh, is his statue, ‘‘The Call”, a kilted warrior ready to go to Flanders’ Fields. “The Sprinter”, waiting for the starting gun, in Fitzwillian Museum, Cambridge, England; and “The Plunger”, ready to dive in Boston’s University Club, are his. His also are the Delano Memorial at Washington and the General James Wolfe Statue in Greenwich Royal Park, London, a gift from the people of Canada to the people of England. Other work is permanently shown in the Canadian National Gallery, Ottawa, the Montreal Art Gallery, Oxford University, and a number of United States museums and colleges. One of his masterpieces, “The Brothers of the Wind”, is now in the possession of McGill University. It was given by Dr. McKenzie for the projected Sir Arthur Currie Memorial Gymnasium and Armory. It will remain in the Douglas Hall of Residence until the gymnasium is built. He also executed many striking friezes. He was awarded the King’s medal by Gustavus V of Sweden for distinguished service in sculpture at the 1912 Olympic games.

Dr. McKenzie was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy, a former president of the American Physical Education Association, president of the Society of Directors of Physical Education in Colleges, and a Fellow of the Philadelphia College of Physicians and Surgeons. During the Great War he was a temporary major in the Royal Army Medical Corps, an inspector of physical training for the British forces, and later in the war medical officer in charge of the Heaton Park Command depot.

McGill University in 1921 bestowed on Dr. McKenzie its highest honour. At the centennial celebration of its founding, and in the presence of hundreds of returned graduates, the distinguished sculptor and former physical director of the university received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.

Dr. McKenzie lived near the University of Philadelphia with which he was connected since 1904 and spent his summers at Kintail, his summer resort at Almonte, Ont.

Mrs. McKenzie, the former Ethel O’Neil, of Hamilton, Ont., survives, as do two brothers, Rev. William P. McKenzie, Boston, and Bertram Stewart McKenzie, Ottawa, and a sister, Mrs. Gilbert Pritchard, Boston.

Source: Unknown, Dr. Robert Tait McKenzie — Obituary, Canadian Medical Association Journal 38 (June 31, 1938): 618

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