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Story of our School

The History of R. Tait McKenzie

Welcome to R. Tait McKenzie Public School! 

R. Tait McKenzie Public School (RTM) is nestled in the Town of Mississippi Mills (Almonte) about 40 kilometres south-west of Ottawa. The school was named after Robert Tait McKenzie, renowned sculptor, athlete, soldier, physician and physical educator, as well as an 1883 graduate of Almonte and District High School! McKenzie found his appreciation and attraction of athletics during his years at McGill University, guided his pre-med major. He found that his athletic abilities focused on sports that did not solely require strength or stamina, but rather skill, coordination, and practice.

After graduating he became convinced of the need for preventive medicine. Training and conditioning of the body, he believed, would prevent disease, physical breakdown and accidents, so he developed a program of physical exercise. These beliefs lead him to pioneer physical fitness programs in Canada.

Amid his duties as a faculty member of McGill, which he joined in 1892, he used art as an escape from the stress of the practice of medicine. His work as a sculptor became well known and he was commissioned while teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, to create a sports medallion for the 1912 Olympic Games. The result was one of his most famous works, The Joy of Effort medallion, which is the motto of our school.

During World War I, his methods and inventions for restoring and rehabilitating wounded soldiers laid a foundation for modern physiotherapy practices, including prosthetic development and working tirelessly assisting Dr. William Clark in advancing plastic surgery practices for those who had been disfigured by war.

In his retirement, McKenzie and his wife traveled back to Almonte and rediscovered the old gristmill known as Baird’s Mill. The property was up for sale; McKenzie had fond memories of his boyhood haunt and believed the lands would rejuvenate his artistic imagination. The property was left to The Mississippi Mill Conservation Authority upon the death of his wife and is today known as the Mill of Kintail. (It is prudent to note that the Clan McKenzie is traditionally associated with Kintail and the lands of Ross-shire in the Scottish Highlands.)

The history of Dr. R. Tait McKenzie is important to the staff, students and community of Almonte as it is the foundation of our school’s beliefs. We believe that each student is capable of great things. The school is a rich, diverse and inclusive community built on strong positive relationships and high aspirations for our students.

Look around. You’ll see that our teachers, administrators, and staff are committed to providing a safe and nurturing learning environment for our students by providing the best learning opportunities for all. The current school building was completed in 1998. The McKenzie tartan colours decorate the halls and classrooms celebrating our Scottish spirit.

Today, the school has a population of over 300 students from JK to Grade 6. We continue to work towards excellence of mind, body and spirit of our students. We welcome our community partners to join us in celebrating the Joy the Effort as we work with students, staff and parents in providing a challenging curriculum in a safe and welcoming community. 

Updated September 2017

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