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Angus William Rugg MacKenzie


Angus William Rugg MacKenzie
1891-1967

A.W.R. MacKenzie was born on June 24, 1891, at Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland. He was the son of John MacKenzie and Georgina Thomasina Rugg, the third of their nine children. He left Scotland for the United States in 1913. He enlisted in the US Army during WWI. After the war he moved to Canada and attended the University of Saskatoon between 1922 and 1925. He went on to enter the ministry. In 1929 he graduated from the Presbyterian College in Montreal. He was ordained and took up a position at the Presbyterian church in Spencerville, Ontario. There he met and married Angie Brownell. In 1935 the MacKenzies left Spencerville for a posting at Knox Presbyterian Church in Baddeck, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

A.W.R. MacKenzie got involved in a committee that was planning to mark the 100th anniversary of Scottish Gaelic settlement in Victoria County. Though he himself was not a Gaelic speaker, he was passionate about Scottish culture. One of the initiatives this committee decided on was the establishment of a Gaelic educational institution in Victoria County. They started the Cape Breton Island Gaelic Foundation, which raised funds, bought land and built the Gaelic College in St. Annís, Nova Scotia. A.W.R. MacKenzie was heavily involved in all these efforts. In 1938 he helped organize a Highland Gathering on the site. In 1939 the first building was built, a log cabin where Gaelic classes, history lectures and piping lessons could be held.

In 1942 A.W.R. MacKenzie resigned as minister in the Knox congregation in order to work full-time as the Executive Director of the Gaelic College. He organized an annual Gaelic mod starting in the 1940s, a Gaelic College pipe band, and an annual summer school and winter evening classes in Gaelic, piping, drumming, highland dance, and Gaelic song. His wife Angie ran a craft shop that sold locally-produced weaving. The couple lived on site at the Gaelic College.

A.W.R. MacKenzie died suddenly in 1967 at the age of 76.

Our thanks to Joyce MacDonald for providing this bio.

https://gaeliccollege.edu/


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