Kenneth McKenzie was born in Inverness, Scotland. He came to Canada as a young man and settled in Puslinch County near Guelph, Ontario. In 1844, he and Jean (Condy) of Fifeshire, Scotland were married in Bartonville. They farmed there until 1868. McKenzie came West with his son and arrived in Portage la Prairie at the very dawn of agriculture in the province. They selected land near Rat Creek in an area called Shannon, later renamed Burnside. The rest of the family came out to this area within the next two years.
His experience and versatility made him a valuable pioneer. Because of the threat of difficulties between the newly arrived settlers and the nomadic Prairie dwellers, his thoughtful decision making was a very important peacekeeping force in this vast Prairie land.
He took an active part in establishing organizations that would be of benefit to the district and the province. Prairie fires were very frightening for the early settlers. McKenzie helped to organize the Manitoba Farmer’s Mutual Fire Insurance Company and was its first president. He served as president of the St. Andrew’s Society, the Marquette Agricultural Society, the Wellington Agricultural Society, the provincial Agricultural and Arts Society of Manitoba and the Puslinch County Reform Association. The many offices that he held in different organizations point up his being recognized and trusted by people. On numerous occasions, they turned to him for help when supplies and funds ran low. His political contributions were: 1874, he became the MLA for Portage; 1879, MLA for Burnside; 1886 and 1988, elected for Burnside. He is remembered as a soft-spoken gentleman and his friends and neighbors held him in high esteem for his kindness, hospitality and business acumen.
McKenzie was a public-spirited man for he served his district, his church and his province. He gave of his substance freely and for that was well known as a contributor to the well-being of our province.