Charles Longworth Mackenzie LLB QC
Born July 19,1933 Halifax, Nova Scotia
Died December 13, 2020 London, Ontario
Charles Longworth Mackenzie was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 19, 1933 to Charles F. Mackenzie and Sheila M. Mackenzie (nee Macdonald). He was an older brother to Ian and Sandy.
After discovering that commerce was not for him, he found his true calling in the study of law at Dalhousie University. He made lifelong friends at Dal Law School and on the football field. “Choo-choo Charlie” was the kicker and running back for the Dalhousie Tigers during the team’s 1950s glory days.
He was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1956 and later, the Ontario Bar in 1958, the year that he married Ann Catherine Andrews, also of Halifax Nova Scotia.
After articling in a large firm in Toronto, he joined the law firm of Jeffrey and Jeffrey in London, Ontario. As a lawyer, he excelled. No case was too small or too challenging to tackle. His first love was litigation, acting both as a part time Crown Attorney and defense counsel. He also helped families in completing solicitors’ work and acting as a trusted advisor to generations of the same family. He even ventured into immigration law, successfully representing his future son-in-law, Yavuz Gungor, in a hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board.
Charlie was appointed as Queen’s counsel in the year 1968. He acted as a Deputy Small Claims Court Judge, having to retire from that office at age 75. He was also the Chair of the Legal Aid Area Committee for almost 30 years. As a member of the appeals committee for Legal Aid, he was a voice for those lacking the means to hire a lawyer.
Karen Foster, his legal assistant for over 50 years, helped all this happen. She was able to keep up with his energy, taking shorthand and editing his letters through endless revisions.
He practiced in several partnerships over the years in London and Exeter. When his daughter Cynthia joined him the firm became Mackenzie & Mackenzie, Lawyers. They practiced together for over 28 years until he reluctantly retired, two and a half years ago, soon after his 85th birthday. It was the end of a 60-year career, and the end of a very good team.
Charlie became well-known, and not just in the legal community. In the 1970’s, he served as an Alderman on London City Council for seven years. He was active in preserving Dead Horse Canyon and the Elsie Perrin Williams Estate from development. He also served on Western’s Board of Governors. While walking downtown with his children, they would marvel at the number of people who would greet their father by name along the route.
Ann and Charlie raised four children - Cynthia, Gavin, Andrew and Sarah. Charlie shared with them his love of the outdoors - skiing, biking, kayaking, and camping - many years later, he did the same for his grandchildren. He was never happier than when, accompanied by friends and family, he found himself flying down a ski hill, his moustache encrusted with snow and ice.
He climbed Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the North East United States, and shared the experience twice with his children. With age, many of these passions faded but cycling remained. In his last year, he could be seen (even in winter) on his fat-tire bike cycling along the Thames.
Charlie’s second wife, Susan Downe was Charlie’s opposite in many ways, but for more than forty years, until his death, their partnership thrived. They both loved the family “cottage” in Bayfield, and in nurturing its gardens. Susan’s knowledge and love of plants was matched with Charlie’s love of, and need for, heavy physical labour. They shared music, good conversation, good food and travel. For many summers they drove to Haystack, on the coast of Maine, where they went their separate ways - Susan to ceramic workshops and Charlie swimming and kayaking.
With his marriage to Susan came a second family: Susan’s children, Peter, Lise, Bret and Bill Downe, and in time children of their own. Depending on the age and generation, he was known as “Charlie”, “Grandpa Charlie” or just plain “Papa”.
His final illness was sudden but mercifully short. He died on December 13th, of cancer, at the Hospice of the Sisters of St. Joseph in London, knowing that he was surrounded by his loving family. He was 87.
He is survived by Susan, his former wife Ann, his brother Sandy, his four children and grandchildren Thomas (Anne), Isobel (Matthew), Ian and Owen and great-grandson, Peter. The Downe family - Peter, Lise, Bret and Bill and their children, Julia and Conor, Tristan, Jordan, Maya, Ella and Mackenzie - join them in mourning his death.
He is also survived by his sister-in-law Alice Mackenzie and her children, Charlie, Patrick and Sheila in Vancouver, his brother, Sandy Mackenzie, and his wife Carolyn and their daughter, Marjorie in Washington D.C. and his cousins, Margaret Casey in Halifax and Isabel Bassett and Donald Macdonald in Toronto.
The family would like to thank Dr. Mark Vincent and Dr. Mike Tancio and the nursing staff of the Sisters of St. Joseph Hospice for their kind and caring support of Charlie and his entire family during the last weeks of his life.
A celebration of his life is being postponed until a date in the summer when family and friends can freely and safely gather together in Bayfield, Ontario to exchange cherished memories of Charlie and raise a glass in his name.
Charlie’s friends may wish to honour his memory with a gift to the WISH (Winter Interim Solution to Homelessness) project. WISH is a coalition of 18 London volunteer and municipal agencies working to help our friends living rough. Gifts may be directed to The Ark Aid Street Mission, 696 Dundas Street London ON N5W 2Z4, or by e-transfer firstname.lastname@example.org or by credit card https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/57220
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