Water Engineer from Regina, Canada. Married Christine from Glasgow.
John Mackay. Son of John Murray Mackay (Old Ben Reay) and Annie McLachlan.
RLM remembers him well. He was the best looking of all the grandchildren of William and Janet, but differed in one respect, that his hair was curly in front, possibly an inheritance from his McLachlan grandmother, for the Murrays and Mackays had straight hair. His eyes were bright and merry, his face round, the hair not quite black, an active, alert personality.
Like his father and Uncle Donald and three of his cousins he was in the service of Glasgow Corporation, but as a water engineer. He left the service some years before War I for Regina in Canada, with good recommendations from the Lord Provost of what was then considering itself as the Second City of the British Empire.
He became waterworks engineer-in-chief in Regina, and I expect this key position would prevent him serving in the Army during War I.
I do not know if there was any family reason for him going to Canada. I have the impression that his father (Ben Reay) looked upon him as a failure, and ceased to write to him.
While I was in France, or was it in Palestine, in War II, I had an officer patient from Regina, and asked him if he knew John Mackay. He replied that he had known him well. Indeed he had seen John cutting the grass in front of his house only half an hour before he dropped dead from either a coronary thrombosis or from a cerebral haemorrhage. He then added that John had been a great asset to Regina, a social and professional success, but there had been a middle period in his life when a combination of alcohol and someone else's mal-administration had upset him. He had completely re-established himself however, and was a good chap. He was at one time Chairman of the Regina Burns Club, a wit, a good speaker and greatly respected, and his death was an occasion for great sadness.
He was married and had one daughter. His widow lives in Vancouver now, and his daughter (Mrs. Spicer) lives in Regina with her husband and an adopted son and daughter.
As I type these lines I seem to connect up Old Ben Reay's treatment of his daughter Margaret (cutting her out of the inheritance of the house in his 75th year because she had married) with some equally harsh treatment of his only son, John. I never heard of John returning to visit his father. If Old Ben Reay could refuse to acknowledge his younger sister's presence on the railway platform at Ardgay after 13 years absence in the USA he could be expected to be equally unkind towards his son. In don't know. I cannot guess what influence his mother, little Annie McLachlan, had on old John, or on the household in John's youth. She died in 1914, only a few years after John left for Canada.
It would be wonderful the see the Golden Gates opening to let John and his Aunt Helen pass through, hand in hand, each with a Complimentary Ticket!
28th May 1967.
Frank Macdonald and Jessie Howie had a long session with me last night.
Frank had never met John Mackay. He said Ben Reay was not well disposed towards him, and refused to speak about him.
Jessie visited John's widow in Vancouver and John's daughter in Regina a few years ago, and got a fine welcome from both. The one said he was a splendid husband. The other said he was a fine father and although she knew he had been regarded as the black sheep of the family there was absolutely no substance in the label.
Jessie added that Margaret, John's sister, corresponded regularly with John's wife and daughter, and each Christmas sent the daughter a present - another good mark for Margaret Mackay!