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Discover the stories and remember the lives of UCC
Old Boys who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Great War.

Lieutenant Cortlandt Graham Gordon MacKenzie ’07

Died: October 29, 1914

The loss of life occasioned by the present war was brought home to us some time ago, when the name of Lieut. Cortlandt G. G. Mackenzie was published in the list of officers killed in action on November 12th. It was believed at first that the report might be incorrect, but although no definite confirmation has been received, even his family and friends are being forced to the conclusion that the report was true. If this turns out to be the case, he is probably the first Old Boy of the College who gave his life for the cause in which the Empire is engaged.

Lieut. Mackenzie graduated from Royal Military College in 1910, and received a commission in the Royal Scots Fusiliers. When the war broke out his regiment was at Gibraltar, but early in September they were transferred to England, and at the beginning of October they were sent to the fighting line in Northern France. On October 24th he was reported wounded, and three days later he wrote a postcard to his mother, saying that he had received three wounds, but only one of them was causing him any discomfort. But before this announcement was received by his parents, his name appeared among those killed in action on October 29th. A few days later, when his post card arrived, there seemed to be some possibility that he had been taken prisoner, on account of the fact that it was a German card and contained only a simple statement of fact with no post mark, as if it had had to pass a strict censorship. This hope has been nourished ever since by all the promptings of parental affection and the fondest wishes of many friends, even after messages of sympathy were received by the family from our gracious Sovereign and the Secretary of State for War. It has been learned also that the Royal Scots Fusiliers have lost most of their officers in the severe fighting, and on this account little hope for him is left.

It seems but yesterday that Cortlandt was a College boy, though our records show that he came in 1900 at the age of ten and left in 1907 to enter the R.M.C. He was the son of Mr. C. G. Mackenzie, barrister, and though his home was in the city he was a boarder during the greater part of his course. In school he was one of the boys who have the ability but not sufficient application to attain a leading place. He did not take very kindly to the routine of daily lessons. In fact, he was a good deal of a dreamer. The cast of his thought was grave, but there were times when his laugh was the merriest, and his heart as joyous as a child’s. In spite of his dislike of studies (as such), he was a great reader, especially of histories, and during his spare time he made himself familiar with the seven Ancient Monarchies, and the more modern history of Greece and Rome.

So he wasn’t an ordinary boy, though not at all the sort of fellow whom one would expect to choose the army as a career, unless perchance his far-away thoughts and dreams were busied (as probably they were) with the great scenes and actions of the past. However this may be, the duties of the soldier’s life seem to have aroused the latent energies of his mind and character. When he last visited his home two years ago his friends were very much pleased to find him in such vigorous health and spirits, and we have heard reports of the high esteem in which he was held by his brother officers. But his promising career has closed at the early age of twenty-four, and nothing remains but to treasure his memory in our hearts, as one who counted himself happy to fight and die for a good cause ; and though no monument may mark his resting-place, we may apply to him, as an epitaph, the simple words which sum up the record of a brief and noble life,—”Being made perfect in a little while, he fulfilled long years.”

Excerpt taken from College Times (Christmas 1914) pg. 8-9


More information about Lieutenant C. G. G. MacKenzie ’07 can be found at:

Upper Canada College Roll of Service 1914-1919

The Canadian Virtual War Memorial

The Wartime Memories Project – The Royal Scots Fusiliers 2nd Battalion

Tribute to Lt Cortlandt Graham Gordon MacKenzie

The Bond of Sacrifice; A Biographical Record of All British Officers Who Fell in the Great War

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Illustrated First World War (from Illustrated London News as published March 13, 1915)

Canada At War

British Legion – Every Man Remembered

First World War On This Day (October 29, 1914)


Additional Information:

Doug Hall ’67 and sister Martha Hall-Findlay graciously shared more information about their great-uncle Lieutenant Cortlandt MacKenzie ’07 and their family. In their words:

“Lieutenant Cortland Mackenzie’s older brother Lieutenant Gordon Mackenzie was killed the following year.

Cortland’s sister, Nesta, was married to Wing Commander Douglas G. Joy, DFC, of the RAF and UCC 1904. (Our grandparents). Partly as a result of her sons’ deaths, their mother Kathleen Mackenzie moved to England for the duration of the war to be with Nesta and Douglas and to spend considerable time working as a nurse volunteer in France. Douglas Joy initially served in France, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross, and then returned to England to run training programs for new pilots. After the war, Douglas Joy spent much of his career helping to develop the infrastructure and regulatory environment for civil aviation in Canada. He issued himself the first Canadian Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) which remains to this day the the license that all airline pilots must have.

After the Second World War, in 1946, Nesta and Douglas’s daughter Beatrice (Betty) married SD&G Signals Officer Lt. Hugh Hall, MC, and UTS 1938. Our father Hugh landed at Bernieres sur Mer in Normandy on D-Day and was awarded the Military Cross for maintaining communications under fire in the weeks following.

Nesta and Douglas’s oldest daughter Jean was born in England in 1917. Her daughter, Maria Frost, our first cousin, worked for UCC in administration for many years and retired a few years ago.

Cortland had two much younger siblings, John and Violet. There is a much loved and reproduced painting by Laura Muntz Lyall, Interesting Story, on permanent display at the Art Gallery of Ontario showing Violet, about age seven, reading to John, about age four.”