Margaret McKinnon


Miss Margaret McKinnon
Surname as Student: McKinnon
Education: Manitoba College
Graduation Year: 1923
Designated: November 11, 1924
Where: Presbytery of Winnipeg
Denomination: Presbyterian Church of Canada, United Church of Canada

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Margaret A. McKinnon graduated from the Deaconess program at Manitoba College (Presbyterian) in 1923 and made a Deaconess of the Presbyterian Church by the Presbytery of Winnipeg, November 11, 1924 . In 1925, after serving since her graduation at the Presbyterian “cathedral” of Westminster in Winnipeg, she moved to the equally prominent Knox United (formerly Presbyterian) Church. When “Rev. Dr. Murdock MacKinnon accepted a call to Toronto suddenly in the fall of 1925 Margaret remained as the Deaconess, filling in all regards except the pulpit, until May 1926.[1] (It is unlikely that they were related, Margaret’s name appears consistently as “Mc” and “Mac” was definitely the spelling for the Rev. Dr.)

I wonder what kind of woman Margaret was to have been called upon to carry such important work at a highly charged moment. The Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches merged to become the United Church of Canada in June 1925. The congregation of Knox Presbyterian was not of one mind about the merger. Those desiring to be continuing Presbyterians, united under Judge W.M. Martin, formed First Presbyterian Church, but not without discord and the breaking up of long held friendships. The pastoral care and leadership development needs of the congregation would have been significant.

Four years later, in1929, Margaret headed to the coast, accepting a position as Deaconess at Chown United Church in Vancouver. In 1932 she is listed as being on a leave of absence, and in 1933, it is noted by the Committee on the Deaconess Order in their minutes, that she is on a leave she is suitable for appointment. In October 1934 the minutes acknowledge that she is still without work. This was of course, during the depression and churches did not have extra money for hiring Deaconesses and many women are unemployed or employed outside the church. Margaret is not on the Deaconess Appointment list after 1936, nor is she ever mentioned again in the minutes of the Committee.

The only other mention of her I have come across dates from October, 1945. Noted as “Miss Margaret McKinnon”, on a list of “Toba Deaconesses”[2] she is living at 1512 Stenford Drive, Glendale, California, and apparently single. (On the list married women are referred to as Mrs. John so and so, evidence she is unmarried).

Did she find employment in the United States? Did she respond to a family need to care for an ailing parent?

Her journey is a mystery. If you can help fill in the pieces, let us know!

[1] Let The Bells Ring, Knox-Metropolitan United Church, Regina 1882-1982, An Illustrated History by Dorothy Hayden, pg 73.

[2] A list of Deaconesses who graduated from Manitoba College Deaconess program.


Written by Caryn Douglas, August 2014