Inducted: November 29, 1989
Norman D. MacKenzie was fated to come to Kent County just at the right time to play a crucial role in the development of a sound well-regulated hybrid corn industry.
Within a year of his arrival in 1937, he went with Kent Agricultural Representative Jim Garner to Michigan and Illinois on an exploratory trip that led to the first hybrid corn production in Kent in 1939. Beyond that, as an Inspector with the Canada Department of Agriculture Seed Branch, he helped frame the regulations that enabled him and others, with confidence, to sell the almost limitless possibilities in corn production opened by hybrids.
Unlike many others who have contributed to agriculture, Mr. MacKenzie gained public recognition and appreciation long before his career ended. In July, 1945, 300 attended a surprise testimonial dinner at Pain Court in appreciation of his unique contributions to Kent County agriculture. J. Duff Brien, the master of ceremonies at the dinner, described Mr. MacKenzie as "a man who worked for and with farmers for the benefit of agriculture."
A native of Galt, Mr. MacKenzie graduated from the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, and served with distinction as a Major with the Highland Light Infantry in World War I. His post-war career in agriculture took him to the Canada Agricultural Experimental facilities at Brandon and Indian Head in Manitoba. That career was interrupted when he took over his father's dairy in Galt.
The segment of his career that won him the appreciation of Kent County agriculture started in 1937. By that time, the United States had made substantial progress in the development of hybrids, and Mr. MacKenzie, Mr. Garner and others were determined to use that experience to the benefit of agriculture in Canada. When Mr. Garner and Mr. MacKenzie visited the U.S. in 1938, 85 percent of the Illinois corn acreage was in hybrids.
Mr. MacKenzie was a member of the Ontario Corn Hybrid Committee that supervised and assessed the 1939 hybrid tests, and approved rules governing production, testing, registration and certification in that and future years.
In 1948, he went to Toronto as Ontario supervisor. Five years later, on his retirement from the Canada Department of Agriculture, he became Secretary-Manager of the Ontario Seed Corn Growers' Marketing Board and, later, Secretary of the Kent County Hog Producers' Association.
Mr. MacKenzie was a co-founder of Agricultural Convention Week in Chatham, a get-together of hundreds of Kent farmers to hear the latest developments in farm production. He was 1967 Chairman of that programme.
Mr. MacKenzie judged 4-H and Junior Farmers competitions with the same high standards devoted to all of his work.
It was at one of the Agricultural Convention Week programmes that Robert Sanderson, who joined the Canada Department of Agriculture in l943, paid tribute to Mr. MacKenzie for his part in developing "a very responsible programme of certified seed, one that has benefited hundreds of Kent County farmers."