|About The Bunning/McKenzie Family
An interest in Genealogy seems to be a rare pursuit. Most of my relatives have no interest in
their ancestors, whatsoever. Fortunately, in each branch of our family tree there is someone who
has been endowed with curiosity, some research skill and a desire to tell the story of the
forefathers. And what a saga of family trials and tribulations they have collected.
As the administrator of this site, I have learned that the study of a family helps with an
appreciation of world history. Our family was affected by the Highland Clearances, British
Colonization, the Gold Rush in Australia, , World War 1 and 2 , and the Spanish Influenza
epidemic. Going back farther, the census data reveals some ugly truths. Women, up until the mid
nineteen hundreds, were having babies about every two years. Many of the women died in childbirth
or had their lives shortened by the strain of giving birth to a dozen children. Young women, who
may have become pregnant before marriage, left the country to give birth, or left the newborn with
its grandparents. Often newborns died within their first year. While avoiding scandal, it placed a
heavy burden on an aging couple.
Scotland’s people endured a social structure akin to the feudal system of the Middle
Ages. There were a few lucky souls, born into families that held title to the land, but the majority of Scots
were poor crofters, paying the rent to a wealthy landowner. In the Highlands a genetic blessing might be to carry
the McKenzie DNA. An incredible number of the McKenzie clan lived well into their nineties.
During the industrial revolution the lowland Scots in our family were
working in the textile trade. Many were processing linen or working on looms. Many of the children left school at
12 to work as agricultural laborers or domestic servants. The mid 1800’s seem particularly difficult and it is
apparent from correspondence that families in the Highlands were relying on the generosity of
their kinfolk overseas to sustain them.
Some pioneers arrived in a new land at an opportune time. Investment in cheap real estate always
proved prudent. In later years, education was a wise choice enabling families to find gainful
employment. But the formula for success was ever-changing. It seems that the key to success was
adaptability. The family members supported each other with love and understanding and were prepared to
change their jobs, their location, and their thinking in order to thrive.
My branch of the Mckenzie family lives in western Canada. We have been here since Douglas Mckenzie
was enrolled in the Air Force Commonwealth Training Program during WWII. He was stationed in
Winnipeg, Manitoba. There he met a Canadian woman named Margaret Meldrum and they corresponded
throughout the war. He proposed marriage and after 1946, like many other war brides in the
Commonwealth, Peggy Meldrum took a ship to an unknown country to start a new life.
Doug's family had already been living in New Zealand for three generations and had established
sheep stations, productive farms, a reputation in breeding Hereford cattle and an excellent dairy
in Featherston. Doug was the youngest in a family of twelve. After the war he apprenticed as a
carpenter and he and Peggy lived for two years in Wellington. She worked for Watkins, a home
products company, then found a job as a waitress in "The California Cafe". Peggy was feeling
homesick. Her father needed help on the farm in Rosenort, Manitoba so the couple decided to return
to Canada. Their daughter Isabel was born in Winnipeg. Farming in this part of the world was
a hit and miss occupation. After severe flooding of the Red River in 1952 and three brutally cold
winters, Doug was ready to move elsewhere. They headed for the west coast. Initially they had not
ruled out returning to New Zealand, but Vancouver Island reminded Doug so much of home they
decided to stay. Their son Bruce was born in Nanaimo.
Doug and Peg have passed on and we are still here, near the island, on the island, or in planning
stages to return.
THE MCKENZIE PRAYER
BLESS A' THE MCKENZIES AN' A' THE MCKENZIE CHILDREN
THEIR SONS AN' SON'S CHILDREN AND THEIR DOCHITER'S
FOR A THOUSAN' YEARS TO COME.
BE YE GRACIOUS AN' SEND DOON MOUNTAINS O' SNUFF,
AN' RIVERS OF WHISKEY.
AN' OH LORD SEND DOON SWORDS AN' PISTELS AN' DAGGERS,
AS MONIE AS THE SANDS ON THE SEASHORE
TO KILL THE MACDONALDS, THE CLAN RANALDS,
AND THE CAMPBELLS.
AN' OH LORD, BLESS THE WEE COO,
AN' MAKE IT A BIG COO.
AN' OH LORD BLESS THE SUCKLIN, AND MAKE IT A GRAND BOARD.
AN' OH LORD, BLESS THE WEE BAIRNS, YON ANGUS, ALEX AN' BESSIE
AN' MAGGIE AN' FLORRIE.
AN' OH LORD, BUILD UP A GREAT WALL BETWEEN US AN' THE IRISH,
AN' PUT BROKEN BOTTLES ON TOP, SO THEY CANNAE COME OVER.
AN' OH LORD, IF YE HAE ANYTHING GUDE TO GIE,
DUNNA GIE IT TO THE IRISH,
BUT GIE IT TO YOUR CHOSEN PEOPLE, SCOTS,
ESPECIALLY TO THE CLAN MCKENZIE AN A' THEIR FRIENDS.