Major John T. MacKenzie was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and received his early education and piping instruction at the Queen Victoria Military School in Dunblane. Prior to the outbreak of war in 1939, he joined the Scots Guards and served throughout the campaign. He became P/M of the Scots Guards and Piper to the Royal Household. In 1951, he took the Pipe Major’s course at the Army School of Piping at Edinburgh Castle and in 1952, the RCAF sought out J.T. and appointed him as instructor and Pipe Major of the RCAF Pipe Band in North Luffenham, England.
In 1956 he came to Rockcliffe and was immediately in demand as a piper and Pipe Major. He was instructor to the newly formed Ottawa Police Band and began doing some teaching in Herrington, P.Q. and Hawkesbury. In 1967 he became the Chief Instructor and Director of Music at the newly organized Glengarry School of Piping and Drumming at Maxville. In 1970, he and his family moved to Maxville and they established their home there.
Pipe Major MacKenzie began teaching a course in highland piping at the three local high schools. His course of study was approved by the Ministry and pupils received academic credits for their studies. J.T. completed twenty years of teaching and in 1987, he retired. He kept involved by organizing the Tattoo for the Glengarry Highland Games. Under his guidance, this has grown to become a crowd-pleasing event. He was immortalized in The Brigadoons song as the “Piper of Glengarry” and it was a title that he earned.