Soldier Profile

Regimental Sergeant Major Thomas McKenzie

City: 395 Woodstock Rd, Fredericton, NB

Thomas McKenzie was born in 1830 in Gibralter, the son of Sergeant Duncan McKenzie of the 94th Regiment. Thomas joined the 64th Regiment (North Staffordshire Regiment) at the age of eleven as a bugler, drummer, and flautist in the regimental band. In 1849, the 64th was posted to India; while there, Thomas was promoted to corporal in 1851 and to sergeant in 1854. In 1856, the 64th participated in the Persian War and Sergeant McKenzie was appointed bugler to the commanding general, Sir JamesOutram. The 64th played a major role in the Indian Mutiny and McKenzie saw action at the reliefs of Cawnpore and Lucknow. McKenzie was then promoted Colour Sergeant.  In 1861, the British Army asked for volunteers to go to British North America to train the militia and McKenzie was selected.

Colour Sergeant Thomas McKenzie arrived in Saint John in February 1862, and was employed training militia units in New Brunswick, primarily with the 62nd Battalion of the New Brunswick Militia located in Saint John. He was mobilized as the Regimental Sergeant Major with the Saint John Volunteer Battalion during the Fenian threat in 1865/66. McKenzie was very active in rifle competitions and attended the first Dominion rifle match near Montreal. In 1868, he was formally discharged from the 64th Regiment and the British Army.

In the 1871 Census, McKenzie appears as the Militia Stores Keeper living in Fredericton with his wife Hannah and two children. When the Canadian Government established a Military School of Instruction at Fredericton in 1872, McKenzie was selected as the school’s only drill instructor, and served in this capacity for the next eleven years. In 1883, the Canadian Government established its first regular infantry unit, called the Infantry School Corps. McKenzie joined the Corps as its first member on 7 January 1884, and was appointed the Corps Regimental Sergeant Major, a position he held until he retired in 1895. After retirement he served as custodian of the Fredericton Armouries and Military Compound. He died on 26 February 1910, and is buried in the Rural Cemetery in Fredericton.