A Tribute to Kenneth A. McKenzie, Q.C.

On Sunday, March 16, 2014, Mr. Kenneth A. McKenzie, Q.C. (“Ken”), for many years a highly respected member of the legal profession in this province, one of our firm’s namesakes and truly a builder of Alberta, passed away. He was 96 years of age.

Born in 1917, Ken grew up and received all of his early education in Edmonton. While attending the University of Alberta, he met Ted Bishop and the two became fast friends. After graduation, Ken served in the Canadian Armed Forces, following which he was Chief Legislative Draftsman from 1948 to 1952. During that time, he drafted virtually all of the legislation governing the Oil Patch, which was on the cusp of the oil boom in Alberta. In 1952, he left the Alberta Government to join Ted Bishop to form the law firm that became “Bishop & McKenzie.”

The oil boom of the early ’50s took Edmonton from being a provincial backwater to one of the fastest growing and most dynamic cities in Canada, as well as an economic powerhouse. Both Ted and Ken saw a great opportunity presented by the boom. All kinds of new businesses were starting in Edmonton to service the oil patch and the two partners saw that they had an opportunity to ride the wave of new investment by focusing on corporate and commercial law, aggressively going after new small businesses, and by having expertise in the new (for Alberta) areas of oil and gas.

Since Ken had just spent four years in drafting almost all of the legislation governing the oil patch, this was a significant factor in the firm becoming within ten years one of the top corporate commercial firms in the city with an outstanding reputation. What resulted was a dynamic firm that made and continues to make a significant contribution both to the City of Edmonton and to the legal profession. In 1955, in recognition of his contributions to his profession and to the province, he was awarded the Queen’s Counsel designation by the Alberta Government.

During his legal career, Ken was counsel to, or a Commissioner of several Royal Commissions. After his retirement from Bishop & McKenzie in 1985, Ken chaired what became known as the “Mindbender Rollercoaster Inquiry,” and later volunteered with the Canadian International Development Agency and worked in Lusaka, Zambia, as the legislative draftsman for the Zambian government.

Throughout his career, Ken made significant contributions to the community and his profession. He was one of the founders of the Legal Forum, which is still flourishing today. He was active in the Kiwanis Club and was a pillar of the Garneau United Church. He was instrumental in having the mission originally established by Robert Rundle in 1847 designated as a provincial historic site, and also had a significant involvement in raising the funds and arranging for the mission to be rebuilt. For a time he served as Mayor of the Summer Village of Itaska Beach. At various times, he was an active member of the Alpine Club of Canada, the Edmonton Ski Club, and the Itaska Beach Sailing Club.

He will indeed be missed.

A memorial service will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 29, 2014 at Hainstock's Funeral Home, 9810 – 34 Ave. NW, Edmonton.

Click here to read his obituary and sign the online guest book.