Kenneth Mackenzie, Judge of the Maritime Court, the County Court of York, and two or three other courts, is a son of Kenneth and Janet Mackenzie, members of the agricultural class, and was born in Rossshire, Scotland, in the early part of this century. He received a parish school education at Dengall, came to Canada about 1832, and after clerking between one and two years in a store at Montreal, came as far west as Cobourg, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits for himself. Shortly afterwards he abandoned that life, and commenced the study of law with Judge George M. Boswell of Cobourg, finishing his studies with Messrs. Sherwood and Crawford of Toronto.
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Judge Mackenzie was called to the Bar at Michaelmas term, 1843; was created a Queen’s Counsel in 1853, and elected a Bencher of the Law Society in 1871. He practiced his profession at Kingston for some years, and while there was appointed Judge of the County Court of the United counties of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, holding that office from October 15, 1853, until March 21, 1865, at which latter date he resigned and removed to Toronto to continue his practice.
Before leaving Kingston, the members of the Bar there presented him with the following address bearing the signatures of Thomas Kirkpatrick, Q. C., Sir Henry Smith, Q. C , the Hon. Alex. Campbell, Q. C., James A. Henderson, James O’Reilly, C. F. Gildersleeve, and nearly every other member on the Kingston circuit:
“The members of the Kingston Bar avail themselves of the present opportunity of tendering to you their respectful acknowledgments of the kindness, courtesy, and attention which you at all times exhibited towards them, during the many years wherein you have presided over the courts of these counties.
While meeting you officially as a Bar, for the last time, we do assure you that you will carry with you to the City of Toronto, where we understand you are about to return to the active duties of your profession, our warmest wishes for your professional success and future prosperity, results which we confidently anticipate must follow from the integrity, impartiality, and zeal which have always marked your judicial career.”
The county council also presented to him a highly complimentary address.
Soon after settling in Toronto he was employed (1866) by the United States Government to defend the Fenians, of whom twenty-two were acquitted and nineteen convicted.
During his practice in Toronto, he conducted, for the Ontario Government, nearly all of the important Crown business at the York assizes, and held briefs in many of the most notable civil and criminal cases before the courts. He was prosecuting Attorney in the celebrated case of Phoebe Campbell, of London, who was tried in that city, convicted of the murder of her husband, and hung; and was also retained as the prosecutor in the case of Dr. and Mrs. Davis who were tried for the crime of abortion and murder of Jennie Gilmour, and are in the Penitentiary for life.
While at the Bar Judge Mackenzie was engaged in a large number of important eases, and among criminal lawyers had very few peers in the Province. His practice was quite extensive in the several courts, and he gained a position in the front rank of advocates in the county of York.
He was appointed County Judge on the 7th of October, 1876, and Judge of the Maritime Court of Ontario, on the 12th of July of the following year. He is also Judge of the General Criminal Sessions, of the Surrogate Court, of the Court of Assessment Appeals, and of the Insolvent Court. He is likewise Judge of ten Division Courts, the duties of which are discharged by the Junior Judge, John Boyd.
No other man in Ontario is Judge of so many courts as our subject, whose labors are very great, and he is performing them with marked ability. The Globe of October 16, 1876, thus spoke of his appointment to the York County Judgeship:
“We are happy to learn that Kenneth Mackenzie, Q. C., has consented, though with some reluctance, to accept the Judgeship of the York County Court, rendered vacant by the decease of Judge Duggan. The position is one of great responsibility, and places in the hands of the incumbent an influence for good that few other official posts in Ontario confer.
The Judge of the Metropolitan County Court has necessarily a larger amount of business before him, involving heavier interests and more diversified issues than can well come before any other Provincial Judge; and a considerable portion of his work is of a character that eminently requires a well trained lawyer who can bring thorough practical knowledge of the business of the country to bear upon it, and give his decisions with efficiency and promptitude. He has, moreover, as Police Commissioner, duties entrusted to him, the discharge of which deeply effect the moral well being of our city. In the Surrogate Court also, and in the Insolvent Debtors’, and Revision Courts, he has to deal with a multiplicity of matters of very great importance. For the discharge of all these varied duties Judge Mackenzie is preeminently the right man in the right place. He is an able, upright lawyer of great experience; conscientious, painstaking, and earnest in all he undertakes, and he has the courage and firmness to do right under all circumstances. He has the peculiar qualification for the position of having held for ten years with distinction the County Judgeship of Kingston and Frontenac, and he now reassumes his judicial duties with twelve years of fresh and valuable experience acquired as a leading and successful counsel of large and varied practice at the Toronto Bar.
In 1859 Judge Mackenzie married at Kingston, Isabella, daughter of Captain Robert Lang Innes, of the British army, and they have had two children, Isabella Catharine, still living, and a twin sister, Janet Mary, who died before she was a week old.