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Don MacKenzie

Dr. Donald Hugh Horton MacKenzie M.D., F.R.C.P. 1929- 2006
NAUI #1069 
Physician, mentor, and Canadian diving pioneer 

By Will Tremain 

Ontario divers fondly remember Dr. D. H. H. MacKenzie, a longtime Canadian NAUI instructor and scuba aficionado. 

Don graduated from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine in 1954. After completing post-graduate studies in Internal Medicine, he returned to the university to begin his career as a physician at U of T Health Services. He later took on a dual role, as a professor in the Faculty of Physical Education and Health. Don put significant time and effort into a number of clubs and committees at U of T’s Hart House, the Varsity Blues intercollegiate teams, programs in the Faculty of Medicine and academic projects in the Faculty of Physical Education and Health. 

Don was a pioneer of Canada's diving community and one of the first generation of instructors accredited by the National Association of Underwater Instructors in Canada. Following his certification as NAUI Instructor #1069 in Hawaii, Don ran scuba courses for academic credit at U of T’s Faculty of Physical Education and Health, including PHE 408, a NAUI Instructor Certification Course - the first of its kind in North America. 

As one of the founders of the Hart House Underwater Club in 1962, Don contributed significantly to its success throughout his long tenure at U of T. He served as the HHUC’s training director from 1968 to 1977. This was a period of tremendous growth in the dive club, due largely to his unique ability to recruit and welcome all interested participants. The HHUC still operates today, and awards the Don MacKenzie Silver Goblet annually to a member for outstanding contributions to the club. In 2002, at the HHUC’s 40th anniversary celebration, the club presented Don with a Cornerstone Award, recognizing his lifetime contributions to the club. 

Don was a generous colleague and mentor who believed in the importance of education and also in giving back to make a better society. Students were his most important priority. He encouraged his students and others to pursue everything they did to the best of their ability, and to above all, enjoy themselves. Don’s many philanthropic gifts to organizations throughout Toronto enhanced hospitals, museums, and the arts. Former HHUC member Jason Rivers remembers, “Don's passing brings me back to a place many years ago when we all first met and shared a love for the world under the sea. Over the years, Don continually demonstrated his enthusiasm and positive attitude towards life and everything it entailed, making him a role model and mentor to many.” University colleague Sharon Bradley says, “Don was certainly passionate about the school and the students. He will be missed.” 

For more than five decades, the University of Toronto was central to many of Don’s work, leisure and volunteer pursuits. He is fondly remembered by U of T faculty and staff, and hundreds of current and former members of the Hart House Underwater Club. 

The HHUC made a memorial contribution to Diver’s Alert Network in Don’s name. 

Will Tremain is a journalist who took up diving in 2005 with the Hart House Underwater Club. He found he enjoyed it so much that he flew to Australia to work on the Great Barrier Reef for 6 months in order to reach higher levels of training. He became a divemaster and was an active HHUC member and served on the club executive.

Exerpted from: 
Ontario Underwater Council Newsletter, February 2007

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