History Series: John Thompson "J.T." MacKenzie was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1920. He spent his childhood within the shadows of Edinburgh Castle and at the early age of nine years became a boy piper at the Queen Victoria Military School in Dunblane, Perthshire.
In 1935 he signed on as a boy piper with the 2Nd Battalion of the Scots Guards. After serving in the Second World War, which included active service in North Africa, he eventually became Pipe Major of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards from August 1946 to February 1950, which included an appointment as a Piper for the Royal Household
J.T., his wife Agnes, son Ian and daughter Marilyn sailed on the SS Olympia to Canada in January 1955.J.T.’s love of the pipes and teaching went hand-in-hand throughout his career. He served as Pipe Major at RCAF Station Rockcliffe until 1962 when he was posted to Marville, France.
Not long after his return to Ottawa in 1966, J.T. helped co-found the Ottawa Police band, serving as its first pipe major alongside Charlie Bell as pipe sergeant and Dave Grant Sr. as drum sergeant. After his passing in 2004, then pipe major wrote a tune in his honour which you can access via the link below.
Upon retiring from the Canadian Armed Forces in 1970, John, Agnes, Marilyn and Janice moved to Maxville, Ontario where John began teaching piping in the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry School Board in addition to teaching at the Glengarry School of Piping and Drumming on Saturdays. He continued as an active participant and organizer in the community, especially with the Glengarry Highland Games and in particular, the Friday Night Tattoo.
J. T. MacKenzie will be long remembered by a long list of former students, acquaintances and close friends throughout the world. The family initiated the, “Pipe Major J. T. MacKenzie Memorial Fund” in 2004 which served to support a trophy and prize for the youngest piper winning first place in the amateur solo piping at the Glengarry Highland Games. This award is now part of the prize list of the Games and will continue to commemorate his love for piping and teaching.