It is with broken hearts that we announce the unexpected passing of Daniel Edward MacKay, age 77 of Amherst in the early morning hours of Friday, March 5, 2021 at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre, Truro, NS, surrounded by his loving family.
Edward began his life journey in Pictou, Nova Scotia, born to Mary Elizabeth (Johnston) and John Ross MacKay. He lived his early years in Toney River, where he attended the “University of Toney River” (as he liked to tell his daughters and now grandsons). His father operated a garage and was a fisherman. After fire destroyed his business, the family moved to Amherst when he was 12 years old, and his father opened a service station in East Amherst.
Family was most important to Edward. After marrying the love of his life, his teenage sweetheart Carol, in 1963, they had three daughters, and he was most proud of in their accomplishments. His grandsons were also the light of his life and he relished in hearing about their endeavors, travel and studies.
After having been diagnosed with MS in 1989, he became the first recipient in Nova Scotia to receive the Beta Seron injection for MS. He found time to do speaking engagements on living positively with MS and had been a guest speaker at many local organizations over the years.
He owned and operated “Grandmother’s Attic Antiques” for a number of year, and was an expert in English and German china. He used his knowledge of china to also do appraisals for people.
In 1998, he sold magazines on the internet and raised over $5000 to start the “Spencer Friendship Fund” which he established to help children and their families from Cumberland County with travel expenses to/from the IWK Hospital. He was still actively involved in this endeavor.
He was a founding member of the Amherst Drama Club, after hearing a radio ad back in 1969, that a group of people were interested in forming a drama club. Saying to himself “now that’s different” he showed up that night and the rest is history. He became a founding member of the Amherst Drama Club, which brought live theatre to the citizens of Amherst. From this small beginning he continued to promote the arts, even in his work environment, Dorchester Penitentiary where he formed the first drama group, a choir and an orchestra involving the inmates.
In 1987, when approached by Mount Allison University to direct a full length musical for the Garnet and Gold Society, he again volunteered his services and the outcome was a highly successful production of “Hello Dolly” which saw an audience of over 5,000 attend the three performances. This performance gave our small town audiences the opportunity to see a production of Broadway caliber and it remained a topic of conversation to today.
In 1988 he was again asked to direct another musical for Mount Allison University and as before the theatre was filled to capacity for all performances of the production of “Grease”.
Following this in 1989, Edward realized a dream he had for quite some time. He brought forth a proposal for a production, entirely of his own idea, whereby he wanted to stage an evening of music from popular Broadway hits. With the help of loyal and supportive friends who gave him the courage to proceed with this project, he continued. In January, 1990, he received the full support of the Amherst Rotary Club as a sponsor for this project and “Broadway, Musically Speaking” was off the ground. The success of this evening musical was outstanding and over $5,000 was raised for community organizations.
From that moment, there was no stopping him! There were so many outstanding performers who took part in this effort that a non-profit community organization was formed and “Showcase Productions Society” was born 1990, with Edward as its first and very proud chairman, and to this day he remained on the Board of Directors as an honorary “Director”. This musical group still has members from all over Cumberland County and continued to grow over the years. Edward remained involved in theatre for over 50 years directing his last major production of “My Fair Lady” in 2013.
In November, 1990, this group presented, in cooperation with the Canadian Legion, a tribute to the veterans of World War I and World War II, a moving performance of “We’ll Meet Again” with over 2,000 people attending this performance.
In 1991, Edward was presented with the “LESCARBOT” award (in honour of Marc Lescarbot who was recognized as Canada’s first known volunteer in our cultural history), presented to him by Mayor Walter Purdy, on behalf of the Government of Canada. This award recognizes volunteers in communities that have made outstanding contributions towards the enrichment of cultural life in their communities.
In 1993, he began organizing “tours” to New York City, to see Broadway Theatre, as a fundraising effort for Showcase Productions. These tours were so successful, that he was able to establish a Trust Fund for scholarships and bursaries for students in Amherst and Cumberland County. He had seen over 200 Broadway Shows during his many “tours”, bringing so many people along with his love of theatre and music. He also loved and spent many summers touring through New England searching out new and possible shows for Showcase to perform.
In 1993 Edward was elected to the position of President of the Nova Scotia Drama League. This was the first time a President was from outside of the Halifax theatre community. During his term as President, the Nova Scotia Drama League’s production of Nova Scotia Songbook was presented at the Toyama International Theatre Festival in Japan, which portrayed our Maritime identity and demonstrated the power of music and theatre to communicate.
Edward was instrumental in helping Black Tie Productions (another musical theatre organization at Mount Allison University) get off the ground with their first production of “Little Shop of Horrors”, which he directed for them. He always encouraged young people in their love of musical theatre and supported any projects brought forth.
Edward was employed with Correctional Services Canada as Acting Regional Administrator, Planning, Administration and Informatics and Works in the Regional Office in Moncton, upon his retirement. Prior to being in this position he was Regional Chief, Administrative Services. He had been employed with Correctional Service Canada since September 1967 at which time he began his career as a clerk with the Springhill Institution. From there, he moved on to Dorchester Penitentiary to assume the duties of Social Development Officer. While working in Dorchester, for fourteen years, he began to upgrade his education, taking courses at Mount Allison University and Universite de Moncton, and French language training at Memramcook Institute.
He is survived by his wife, Carol, three daughters Michelle McIntyre (Mark) Amherst, Shawna MacKay (Rodger) Enfield, Rebecca MacKay (Jeff) Halifax, and seven grandsons Mathew (Steven) Kenora, ON; Caleb (Falon) Moncton, NB; Zachary, Abbotsford, BC; Spencer, Halifax, NS; Graham (Morgan), Halifax, NS; Jonathon (Steffen), London, UK; and Josh, Halifax, NS. He has many nephews and nieces with some of his nieces being more like daughters to him. He is also survived by his brother-in-law, Terry Nolan (Barb), Moncton, NB.
He was predeceased by both parents, a granddaughter (Lacey Drew), siblings Ross, Alex, Nellie (Dolly), Annie and Robert and his favourite mother-in-law, Nettie.
He was so very proud of his Scottish heritage, having spent hours researching his ancestry back to 1776. He even owned a plot of land in the Scottish Highlands, which made him a Scottish Laird. He lived in true form to his Scottish traits, with his stubbornness and determination.
Edward lived a “life of service” and gave back so much to his family and community. His dream opened the door of experiences to so many and he has left us all with an incredible legacy. His was truly a life well lived!
The family wishes to thank the staff at the Truro Hospital Stroke and ICU units who provided Edward with incredible care and kindness and provided the family with such compassionate support.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Campbell’s Funeral Home, 98 Church Street, Amherst, NS, 902-667-9906.
A Celebration of Edward’s life will be held at a later date.
Donations can be made in his memory to the IWK Hospital or CARMA Amherst Chapter or a charity of your choice.
Condolences and sharing of memories may be shared with the family via: www.campbellsamherst.ca or by visiting Campbell’s Facebook page.