John B’s Memorial

The Entrance to the Mackenzie
The Entrance to the Mackenzie

The Mackenzie Apartments are a familiar sight at the corner of Elgin and McLeod, In the years leading up to the First World War, the properties just north of Appin Place (the current site of the Museum of Nature) became ripe for new development. If you’re the same sort of nerd that I am, it’s likely that you’ve downloaded and indexed the fire insurance maps available at LAC. Between the 1901 edition and the 1912, we can see that within the two surrounding blocks, the St. Cado, Virginia, Elgin, Kenniston, the Warrington, and Mackenzie Apartments had been constructed.

Looking up at the fire escape, Elgin.In my own experience, the name given to apartment buildings can either be chosen for obvious reasons, like the name of a monarch, leader, or after an exotic or luxurious locale, or other times, the chosen name is less obvious to anyone by the builder or perhaps contemporaries. In the case of The Mackenzie, it may be a little more of the latter than the former. This is in spite of “Mackenzie” being a common enough name in the Canadian experience.

1899-10-27-McKenzie-Dead
McKenzie’s death announcement in The Journal, October 27, 1899.

As it would turn out, The Mackenzie, like the Harmon Apartments or the White House Apartments (161 Somerset, where I live) was most likely named for the previous owner of the property. On October 26, 1899, the Journal reported the death of Constable John B. McKenzie (note the different spelling: accuracy wasn’t always considered, something that was the case with the Harmon Apartments on Elgin).

A familiar figure will be missed from the By ward market. John B. McKenzie is dead. He passed away yesterday afternoon and his market constableship will know him no more.

For nine years, Constable McKenzie has been the city’s faithful servant, the guardian of the law and order on the market, and in any little disputes which arose between sellers and purchasers he was generally appealed to, and his decisions were mostly always considered fair.

I have not been able to locate any relevant information about who constructed the apartment, the architect, builder, or the cost.

1888 Goad's (1901 Revision), Left & 1902 Goad's (1912 Revision, Right)
1888 Goad’s (1901 Revision), Left & 1902 Goad’s (1912 Revision, Right)

Leave a Reply