The City Archives is excited to release a new series that uncovers and shares recently donated items to the Archives’ collection. We hope you will enjoy learning about our ‘new’ treasures and the diverse stories these items hold.
The main role of the City Archives is to manage government records that have long-term business value. The City Archives also collects, preserves and provides research for valuable non-government records that document the rich and diverse heritage of the City of Vaughan. For more information, visit the City of Vaughan Archives webpage.
The City of Vaughan Archives has been fortunate to receive various donations from members of the Mackenzie family that detail the colourful and active life of Woodbridge’s own Maj. Addison Alexander “Lex” Mackenzie. Our “newest” and most unique piece, donated from the Mackenzie family, prompted the Archives to create a new blog series to showcase the treasures received from the Vaughan community.
A Point of Order
The Mackenzie family contacted the Archives last year to donate an artifact taking up space in their home. When it arrived at Vaughan City Hall’s security desk, you could see why this 2.57 metre (8.43-foot) item was difficult to place.
Made of a strong bamboo shaft and adorned with forged steel for the spear and shoe, Mackenzie received this lance during his service with the Governor General’s Body Guard (GGBG). Dating back to around 1905-08, the lance was a standard issue to the GGBG uniform. This particular lance has a triangular section head with three blade edges for maximum penetration, but it likely saw no action, being used primarily for training and ceremonial purposes.
Decorated with a Canadian red-and-white felt flag with a dark stain and lacquered finish, the lance is in remarkable condition. The only area with major signs of wear is the steel shoe or “butt” of the lance, where it shows use from being taken in and out of the saddle’s lance holder. The lance stayed with Mackenzie until his death in 1970 and was passed on to his family.
Importance to Vaughan
Born and raised in Woodbridge on a family farm located on Lot 5, Concession 7, Addison Alexander “Lex” Mackenzie (1885-1970) is recognized today as an important figure in Vaughan’s history. Joining the GGBG in 1904 as a private, Mackenzie moved through the ranks receiving the highest non-commissioned officer rank of squadron sergeant major. At the beginning of the First World War, Mackenzie served with the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles and was quickly promoted to captain because of his pre-war experience serving with the GGBG (which later became the Governor General’s Horse Guard).
Mackenzie was awarded the Military Cross for valour for his efforts at Regina Trench during the Battle of the Somme and soon rose to the rank of major. Despite sustaining severe wounds at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917, Mackenzie continued to serve in the Canadian Army’s training system until the end of the war.
Later in life, Mackenzie served as a councillor for the Village of Woodbridge from 1922-26, and eventually became reeve of the Village in 1927. Mackenzie acted as reeve and member of the York County Council for eight years, and soon after set his sights on provincial government. In 1945, Mackenzie was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario where he served 22 years under the Progressive Conservatives.
Mackenzie passed away in 1970 leaving behind a distinguished career of public and military service. His legacy has been honoured throughout York Region, with the naming of the Woodbridge branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, Alexander Mackenzie High School in Richmond Hill and the regional road Major Mackenzie Drive. This year marks the 45th anniversary of his passing.
Mackenzie family fonds
The Mackenzie family fonds is an excellent source for genealogical research and includes significant information about the careers, military experience and personal lives of Mackenzie and other members of the family during the war. Spanning more than 3.36 metres of textual records, the fonds consists of letters, photos and maps from the Great War as well as family business documents, drawings and newspaper clippings.
Information and material from Mackenzie’s municipal career at the Village of Woodbridge are also included in the fonds, in addition to audio-visual material, medals, a piece of shrapnel from Mackenzie’s shoulder and a Victorian officer’s infantry sword and scabbard from 1901.
The addition of Mackenzie’s lance to the family fonds provides a material context to the textual records relating to the First World War. This piece, along with other war artifacts in the collection, help to connect researchers with the events experienced by Mackenzie and bring to life the physical and mental demands required of servicemen during the Great War.
Should you or someone you know have materials you would like to share or donate to the City
Archival Records Analyst
City of Vaughan Archives
City Clerk’s Office
Visit the City of Vaughan’s website at vaughan.ca.