Niall MacKay, with his sons, Alexander (15) and Colin (9), at the grave of his father in Tongue Churchyard. Rev Alasdair MacDonnell, on the right, reads from the Bible during the service.


SEPTEMBER 2000 - NO. 107

Ashes of Gael come home

The ashes of the distinguished Canadian Gael, Iain Macintosh MacKay, KStJ, CD, ADC, MD, FRCP(C), FACA, KCLJ, who passed away on March 4 this year, were interred at his wish in Tongue Churchyard on August 7 by his son, Niall, and grandsons, Alexander and Colin. The Rev Alasdair MacDonnell took the service while Joanne Shaw played the Flowers of the Forest. Charlie and Marie Mackay, West Shinness, represented the Clan Mackay Society. The beautiful gravestone is inscribed in Gaelic.

Iain Mackay was born in North Bay, Ontario, on January 18 1919, a third generation Canadian. His grandfather, Robert Mackay, a stonemason, emigrated to Canada from the south of Scotland, possibly Edinburgh. Robert's grandfather, George, came from the Tongue area. Iain, the son of Rev Dr James Innes and Grace MacKay, visited Tongue several times and always regarded it as his spiritual home.

Iain Macintosh MacKay's gravestone.

He graduated MD from the University of Toronto in 1943 and was in active service as medical officer in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps in Canada in mainland Europe and the UK, holding appointments in research as a regimental medical officer, and in hospitals. Dr MacKay took a postgraduate course in anaesthesia in Toronto in 1947, and additional training at the Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics at Oxford. He held many positions, including that of associate professor in the department of anaesthesia, University of Toronto.

Throughout his career Dr MacKay maintained a wide range of cultural interests. Drawing on his Scots heritage from both sides of his family he acquired Gaelic and became a proficient piper as a schoolboy. This was the basis of a life-long support of Celtic culture and Highland music. He served as chief of the Gaelic Society of Toronto from 1947 to 1949 and as honorary chief since 1973. He taught Gaelic language classes, co-published a Gaelic magazine, was one of four organisers of the Pipers Society of Ontario and organised the Toronto Highland Games in 1949-51.

During World War II, Dr MacKay served with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and Cape Breton Highlanders in Europe, and with the 48th Highlanders of Canada as regimental medical officer.

He served as aide-de-camp to the lieutenant governors of Ontario from 1960 to 1989. Upon retiring he was appointed honorary medical secretary to the lieutenant governor of Ontario. He served as honorary physician to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from 1971 to 1973, and attended the Queen Mother in a similar capacity on her trips to Toronto.

Joanne Shaw, aged 14, from Strathnaver plays The Flowers of the Forest at the graveside. Click to hear Joanne playing.

He volunteered his services to his community through the St John Ambulance Brigade, rising to the position of chief surgeon for Canada and as medical advisor to Ontario Council. He was made a Knight in the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem in 1980. The list of other organisations to which he contributed is almost endless.

Iain MacKay is survived by his beloved wife of fifty-six years, M Jeanne (Sterne) MacKay, his sons Roderick Iain MacKay and Niall James Mackintosh MacKay and his grandsons, Alexander and Colin.

Iain Macintosh MacKay's clan crest pictured on the grave in Tongue.

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