by Brent Eades
Physician, sculptor and native son Robert Tait McKenzie has been commemorated in a bronze monument affixed to the wall of Old Town Hall.
McKenzie was a friend of Almonte’s James Naismith and was acclaimed for his achievements both in medicine and art. He pioneered physical fitness programs in Canada, and during World War I developed methods for rehabilitating wounded soldiers that laid the foundation for modern physiotherapy practices. His over 200 sculptures — athletic and military figures, busts, masks, friezes and medallions — are on display in various countries.
After teaching at the University of Pennsylvania for many years, McKenzie retired to Almonte in 1930 and bought the property that he and his wife renamed the Mill of Kintail, using it as a studio and summer retreat. He died in 1938 at the age of 71.
The piece was sculpted by Russell Baron, cast by Dale Dunning, and installed by Dick Veenstra & Stephen Brathwaite.
This monument was made possible by the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, The Mississippi Mills Beautification Committee, Lucy Carleton, Bryn Matthews, Angie Arendt, Chandler Swain, Jordan Smith, Greg Smith, Susan Woodley, Cleland Jardine Engineering, Brent Foster, Lynn Chambers, Blair Paul, Stephen Brathwaite, Joe Princiotta, Gord and Bonnie Pike, John F. Ditunno Jr., M.D., Fern Martin, and the cast and crew of ‘the Dirt on R. Tait MacKenzie’.