George Leslie Mackay

I paid tribute to a great Canadian and Taiwanese hero, Dr. George Leslie Mackay, in the legislature.

April 19, 2023

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I rise today to recognize a great Canadian and Taiwanese hero, Dr. George Leslie Mackay. This year would have marked his 179th birthday, and all these years later he’s still remembered and celebrated in both Canada and Taiwan.

George Leslie Mackay was born and raised near Embro, in Oxford county.

As a young Presbyterian missionary, Mackay travelled to Formosa, now known as Taiwan, and founded a mission in the town of Tamsui. While on that first mission, he fell in love with the island and its people, embracing it as his adopted homeland. He married a local Formosan named Minnie, started a family there, and set about helping people in any way he could, including practising dentistry as a method of outreach.

During his almost 30 years on the island, he built several schools, including the first school for girls, and Oxford College, and a hospital. He advocated for women’s rights and public medical care, and he fought against discrimination.

Today, Mackay’s legacy lives on in the schools that he founded, the cutting-edge Taiwanese health care system, and strong friendships between Taiwan and Ontario. In fact, Oxford county is now twinned with the Tamsui district.

I know that the black-bearded barbarian—as Mackay was often called—would be proud of the vibrant, pluralistic democracy that Taiwan is today.

May we continue to share a special bond and advance the values he championed.