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Glenn Jackson MacKenzie

June 15, 1921 - May 21, 2017

Glenn MacKenzie: June 15, 1921 - May 21, 2017

Service Date: May 31, 2017

Funeral Home Nepean - Garden Chapel

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MacKenzie, Glenn Jackson “Jack”

JUNE 15, 1921 – May 21, 2017

WORLD WAR II RCAF VETERAN

OLDEST MAN TO HAVE SKIED TO THE NORTH POLE

 

Jack MacKenzie died peacefully on May 21st in his 96th year at the Perley Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre, Ottawa.  His beloved wife of 49 years, Nan, predeceased him in 1995.  Jack was the cherished Father of Richard (Alexandra) and Jeffrey (Cynthia), loving Grandfather of Allister (Ashley) and Alexander, Great Grandfather of Jackson, and dearest Brother of Eva Cromwell of Knowlton, Q.C.  Born in the small village of New Richmond, Quebec, on the Gaspe Peninsula, Jack was ten when his family moved to the fishing village of Paspebiac, where Rene Levesque, the Quebec sovereignist, was one of his many boyhood companions.  Jack got his first pair of skis for Christmas in 1931. His love of skiing inspired his Guinness Book of World Records run to the North Pole at age 78 and persisted to his last downhill run at age 85.   Jack joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at age 19.  Initially, he was a navigator for an Army Co-operation Squadron, then for Coastal Command, tracking U-boats in the Atlantic and finally for the R.A.F. Transatlantic Ferry Command, flying aircraft to Britain and the Middle East.  During those early years of transatlantic flying, conditions were very hazardous and losses over the Atlantic were very high. Jack logged over 1900 hours in the five years that he served with the RCAF, including 30 transatlantic crossings.  Near the end of the war Jack met Nan, a beautiful young lady from London, Ontario, and they married in June 1946.  Jack worked at the Bank of Nova Scotia in Ottawa and after a couple of years joined the Federal Government.  In 1951 he was entrusted with merging Canada’s tax system with Newfoundland’s, which had recently joined Canada as its newest province.  St. John’s was a daunting challenge for both Jack and his young family that now included two young boys.  After returning to Ottawa, Jack played a key role in introducing Canada’s social security system and was appointed the first Director of the Canadian Pension Plan.  Jack was on the team formed to reorganize the Unemployment Insurance System and later was responsible for administering the tax withholding provisions of the Income Tax Act across Canada.  On his retirement in 1976 Jack and Nan focused on travelling and visited many exotic places, touring a total of six continents.  They also had many happy times at their ski chalet in the Gatineau Hills and their cottage near Sharbot Lake.  When Nan died in 1995 Jack entered a new phase in his life. He participated in expeditions to Africa, Antarctica, Easter Island and the Gobi desert among other locations.  To commemorate the International Year of the Older Person Jack joined a polar expedition led by the Artic explorers Richard Weber and Dr. Mikhail Malakhov in 1999.  Jack skied out of Siberia from the 89th to the 90th parallel and reached the North Pole on April 28, 1999.  At almost 78 years old he is the oldest person to ski this distance to the North Pole, a record recognized in the Guinness Book of Records.   Jack carried a Canada Post flag, raising it at the Pole to symbolically open a Canada Post Outlet at Santa’s home town: North Pole H0H 0H0.  In the years following Jack continued to take trips to many interesting places, and was active in community affairs. Unfortunately, Jack’s adventure travels came to an abrupt end in 2006 when he seriously injured himself on his third and final trip through Canada’s Northwest Passage with his son Rick.  Jack became a member of the Explorers Club and in 2009 took one last trip with his son, Rick, his daughter-in-law, Alexandra, and his grandson, Alexander, to the Explorers Club’s annual dinner and meeting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City.  Jack’s lifetime of adventure and exploration earned him the nickname “Explorer Jack” from some members of the Explorers Club.  In his final years Jack wrote “Wanderlust”, a memoir of his long and varied life.  He was fortunate to have followed his dream throughout his life and left it with no regrets.  Jack’s Family would like to acknowledge the medical staff and caregivers at the Perley Rideau Veteran’s Centre whose care and attention made Jack’s final days as comfortable as possible.  A memorial will be held in the Chapel at the Beechwood Cemetery, 280 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa at 11am on May 31st.  Condolences and anecdotes may be sent to Rick MacKenzie at rick.mackenzie@sympatico.ca.

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