Woman born at old Cottage Hospital celebrates 100th birthday

·2 min read

Inez MacKenzie didn’t expect to be back in Niagara-on-the-Lake for her 100th birthday.

But on Friday she found herself sitting in the kitchen at the Flynn House B&B on Johnson Street, wearing a black dress with white pearls around her neck, waiting for her 100th birthday party to start.

On Sept. 16, 1922, MacKenzie was born at the old Niagara Cottage Hospital. The daughter of Edith and Franklin Currie, she grew up on Gate Street in NOTL.

The Cottage Hospital was in service between 1920 and 1951. Residents raised money in 1919 to buy a house on Queen Street, that later became the Cottage Hospital in 1920.

During the Second World War, she trained at the Mack School of Nursing in St. Catharines, the oldest training school in Canada. She graduated in 1945.

“Sometimes in my young years when I first started (as a nurse), I was getting a little bit balled out because I used to make the patients laugh,” said MacKenzie with a laugh.

“In those days, they thought that would hurt the patient,” she added.

She loved the people, but hated seeing them sick.

While there, she met Arthur MacKenzie, who would later become her husband.

Arthur was from Nova Scotia and served in the Second World War. He was stationed in Europe as a motorcycle escort for munitions convoys. He met MacKenzie while he was at training camp in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

“He was stationed across from Fort George on the Commons,” said her daughter, Anna MacDonald.

While Arthur was away, they would write letters to each other.

“It was very wonderful (back) then to know that you’re getting letters,” MacKenzie said.

They got married in October 1946 at Grace United Church in NOTL and afterward they made their home in Nova Scotia.

MacKenzie was always involved in the community. She was the director of nursing at the Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital in Sheet Harbour, N.S., was also the president of the Eastern Shore New Horizons Club.

Though MacKenzie was working full-time as the director of nursing, she and Arthur spent many summers in NOTL on Gate Street visiting friends and family, said MacDonald.

On Friday, as the clock struck 2 at the Flynn House, family members gathered in the kitchen to celebrate.

Her son and his wife, Scott and Debbie Mackenzie, and MacDonald’s husband, Stuart, sat around the table as she reminisced.

“I never expected to be (here) but I’m so overjoyed because the family brought me here for a week,” MacKenzie said as a smile spread across her lips.

Somer Slobodian, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report