Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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MCKAY, JOHN GEORGE (1886-1923)

MCKAY, JOHN GEORGE, native son; army officer and poet; b. Little Branch, 15 Jan 1886, s/o Allan McKay and Nancy Beattie; m. 1916, Annie R. McRae, BA, d/o John McRae and Catherine J. Watling, of Black River; d. Montreal, 7 Aug 1923.

John George McKay was educated at Horton Academy and Acadia University (BA 1915) and attended Harvard Divinity School for a year. At the outbreak of World War I he joined the war service of the YMCA. He was wounded at Amiens and was awarded the Military Cross. After the war he was secretary of the McGill University Students' Christian Society but never fully regained his health. He resumed his theological studies at the Presbyterian College in Montreal and graduated, but died at age thirty-seven.

McKay was the author of a posthumous volume of verse entitled Après la Guerre (1925), of which the following stanza is representative:

I've stood waist-deep in the trench puree;

I've marched in a daylight trance,

With my boot tops drinking the muddy ooze

From the blood-stained fields of France.

And I've grovelled low in the reeking dirt

When the heaven itself rained lead,

When the "heavies" pounded our trenches flat,

And the best of our boys were dead...

McKay was survived in 1923 by his wife, Annie R. McRae, and one son.


[b/m] Acadia Record [d] Leader 17 Aug 1923