Alan McKenzie ACIB, FICB, FInstD, FSA Scot, Lieutenant to Cabarfeidh (1936 - 2020)

It is with deep sadness that I have to report that our good friend and colleague Alan McKenzie died of cancer on January 2, 2020.

Alan joined the Scottish Studies Foundation in July 1986 when he was Senior Vice-President and Secretary of Barclays Bank of Canada.

Over the years in working tirelessly for the Foundation, Alan undertook the roles of Secretary, Treasurer and President and was the first editor of the Foundation's newsletter when, at Alan's recommendation, the decision was made to open the Foundation to general membership. There can be little doubt that it was thanks to Alan's fundraising efforts that the Chair in Scottish Studies was established in 2004.

Alan was extremely proud of his Scottish heritage and was an active participant in many Scots-Canadian events in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada. In 1987 Alan founded the Clan MacKenzie Society in Canada and for many years was Lieutenant to Cabarfeidh (the chief of the Clan, John Mackenzie, Earl of Cromartie).

His achievements in this role included mounting a campaign to restore the Mackenzie castle, Castle Leod, near Strathpeffer in Scotland and in making available an updated and indexed edition of "History of the Mackenzies with Genealogies of the Principal families of the Name," by Alexander Mackenzie MJI.

Alan was also an enthusiastic amateur actor and appeared on the stage in various roles including George Bernard Shaw's "Joan of Arc," Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband," Terence Rattigan's "The Winslow Boy" and Frank Vickery's "Trivial Pursuits." He was also the director of Norm Foster's "Office Hours."

Alan was born in 1936 at Chester, England, to Maj. William Alexander McKenzie and Ada Ethel May Cross and was educated at Sutton High School, Plymouth, England. In 1958 he married Jill Leach, daughter of Charles Leach and Flora B. Craig. Their four children are: Duncan Stuart, Fiona Juliet, Ian Bruce, and Catherine Alison. Sadly Jill passed away in 2006.

In 1953 Alan joined Barclay's Bank in England and emigrated to Canada in 1975 to join the Bank of Montreal in Montreal. In 1978, after a short spell as managing director of a public real estate company in Hong Kong, he rejoined Barclay's Bank in Toronto becoming a governor of the Institute of Canadian Bankers and senior vice-president, secretary and compliance officer of Barclay's Bank of Canada until his retirement in 1996.

All of us on the Scottish Studies Foundation's Board of Directors extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to Alan's wife Susan and to his children and grandchildren at this difficult time.

Alan will be sorely missed. He was a great human being. When will we see the likes of him again?


David Hunter
Scottish Studies Foundation

More about Alan

From the program prepared by Alan's family
at a Celebration of Alan's Life on Friday, January 24, 2020

"Alan was an extraordinary man." Everyone has said this to us. He pursued his interests with zeal and passion. He loved life and learning. He loved writing about what he knew. He enjoyed speaking, and entertaining. He enjoyed eating great food and sharing it with others. He was constantly active.

Alan died peacefully in Oakville, Ontario, aged 83. His first wife Jill died in 2006, his son Neil in 1988. Although his only brother, Stewart, died in 2008, his older sister Muriel is still alive and well and living in Plymouth Alan is also survived by his children, Duncan, Fiona, lan and Catherine, and their own thirteen children.

In July, 2010, Alan married Susan and enjoyed his new extended family with her adult children Steven, Jennifer, Matthew and their own eight children.

Alan was born in Chester, England, and spent some of his early years in Egypt and Kenya before returning to England to be educated at Sutton High School, Plymouth. His banking career began in 1953 when he joined Barclays Bank, UK. He worked in finance for many years in England and moved to Canada to work for the Bank of Montreal.

During the seventies, he spent (an extraordinary) two years as the Managing Director of a Hong Kong corporation, brokering international deals for one of the wealthiest men in Asia.

Eventually, he and the family settled in Ontario. He returned to banking, eventually becoming Senior Vice President, Secretary & Compliance Officer, at Barclays Bank of Canada.

Alan was a Governor of the Institute of Canadian Bankers, an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (England), a founder member and former President of the Institute of Corporate Directors, and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors (UK).

Alan devoted much time to charitable organizations related to his Scottish heritage. A former President and Newsletter Editor of the Scottish Studies Foundation, Alan participated in many Highland Games events in Canada and the U.S., New Zealand, and of course, Scotland. He participated in the Colloquia at the University of Guelph. His interest in his family history led him to found the Canadian Chapter of the Clan Mackenzie Society in the Americas in 1987.

Alan led and promoted the Mackenzie Society in Canada. He worked with the chief of the Mackenzie Clan, the Earl of Cromartie, to raise funds for the restoration the Mackenzie castle, Castle Leod, near Strathpeffer, Scotland. In 2004, he coordinated the Mackenzie DNA Project, to help people explore their genealogy through DNA. For many years he was an active member of his local Burns Club, celebrating the work of the Scottish poet.

He read for Oakville's Radio Reading Service for the blind. He was one of the initial directors of the Oakville Improv Theatre Company, serving on the Board for over five years.

Alan's pursuits were varied and numerous. He was a talented artist and chess player. He collected and studied Russian stamps, lectured on famous historical crime cases, enjoyed travelling and read voraciously. He was involved in a number of amateur dramatic societies and appeared on the stage in dozens of productions. His acting skills were also fully applied when reading stories aloud, to the delight of his children and grandchildren. Alan was never bored, for there were always new things to try. When he turned 80, he started taking piano lessons and creative writing classes.

Kind, funny, ambitious and clever, he made an impression on so many.

"If there's another world, he lives in bliss;
If there is none, he made the best of this."

Robert Burns

If desired, charitable donations in Alan's memory may be made to Ian Anderson House, Oakville, or the Scottish Studies Foundation.