No. 8057 Captain (Retd) J.R.(Ross) McKenzie CD.
(Late the Royal Canadian Dragoons and Curator Emeritus, The RMC Museum)
It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Ross McKenzie on Saturday 12 January, 2019. Ross spent much of his long military and civilian career serving the College. Joining the College as a Cadet in 1965, he graduated in 1970, and then spent 15 years in regimental service in a variety of postings. He had returned to the College in 1983 to be Personal Assistant to the Commandant, becoming instead the College Protocol and Information Officer.
By the late 1980s, Ross retired from the RCD to become part-time Curator of the RMC Museum, a position first made permanent shortly thereafter. His other role in the Registrar’s Office was essentially as an information officer and tour co-ordinator. As such, he often acted as a public face of the College, a role that he enjoyed immensely, describing it as ”what other job could give one the opportunity to engage with Ambassadors, senior foreign military, government and academic officials – and a walk-about with Dan Aykroyd?”
The museum curatorial role was, however, his passion that he fulfilled with great dedication for the next 25 years, finally retiring in 2015 and honoured as “Curator Emeritus” for his long years of service. His enthusiasm led to greater knowledge of the ‘Story of RMC’ as he and Prof Jack Pike worked together to build the Collections, to record the stories of the exhibits, and using these stories, to build a basis for the broader understanding of the personalities – the Ex-Cadets, Faculty and Staff, who built the College, and the University of to-day, from which institution he held two degrees – an undergraduate one in History and the other , a post-graduate one in War Studies..
He was one of those personalities. Over time he became ‘the Historian’ recording the stories of College life and nation-building over the years, the ‘go-to-guy’ on how things had developed over time. Ross McKenzie was also a pioneer in the guardianship, exposure and conservation of the many elements and collections that make up RMC’s marvellous heritage and history. During the lean years in which the Museum had few resources, Ross’ contribution was to “keep the flame” and help move the collections and Museum toward a professional standard. Two items highlight his successes: designing and building the current high-capacity storage facility and weapons vault in Fort Haldimand when the renovation to that dormitory made the old swimming pool space available for the Museum; and as one of many, but a leader in the inclusion of the Kingston Fortifications as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, especially of the role of Point Frederick, from Naval Dockyard to Royal Military College, world recognition of a place of historical and cultural heritage
Ross was a good scholar and story teller whose curiosity and writing ability uncovered many interesting aspects of RMC’s history. In answer to a request from the Indian Military History Society (IMHS), he and 25107 Vicki Farr wrote a brief summary of the stories of Ex-Cadets commissioned directly into the Indian Army (not the British Army in India – a very different organization) for publication in Durbar, Volume 29 , No 3, Autumn 2012. He fought on behalf of Billy Bishop, VC, to guarantee the truth of his RMC career. Most recently, he was part of a group looking at the age of the Commandant’s House. .For the many years that he guided the Museum he was also a very active, well known member in Kingston’s History and Museums groups, and others at the Provincial and National levels, constantly promoting this institution as an important and integral part of the larger community.
He created a legacy of learning and education, and for this he must be acknowledged and thanked by the current Heritage & Museum Committee of the RMC Museum.
S124 RG Haycock
H3572 FJ Norman
As of press-time no date for a public memorial has been chosen. We expect it to be sometime in February. Once the date and place are confirmed we will update e-Veritas.