George Leslie Mackay


George Leslie Mackay

George Leslie Mackay (馬偕 or 偕叡理; Pe̍h-oē-jī: Kai Sūi-lí or Má-kai; March 21, 1844 – June 2, 1901) was the first Presbyterian missionary to northern Formosa (Taiwan). He served with the Canadian Presbyterian Mission. Mackay is among the best known Westerners to have lived in Taiwan.

Early life

Mackay was born in Zorra Township, Oxford County, Canada West (now Ontario), Canada. He received his theological training at Knox College in Toronto, Princeton Seminary in the United States, and New College, Edinburgh in Scotland, all Presbyterian institutions.

Mission to Formosa

In 1871, he became the first missionary to be commissioned by the Canada Presbyterian Church (predecessor of both the Presbyterian Church in Canada and the United Church of Canada), arriving in Taiwan on New Year's Eve, 31 December 1871.

After consulting with Dr. James Laidlaw Maxwell Sr., a medical doctor serving as a Presbyterian Church of England missionary to southern Formosa (1865), Mackay arrived at Tamsui, northern Formosa in 1872, which remained his home until his death in 1901. Starting with an itinerant dentistry practice amongst the lowland aboriginescite book|title=Sketches from Formosa|author=William Campbell|year=1913|publisher=Marshall Brothers|place=London|page=153] , he later established churches, schools and a hospital practicing Western biomedicine. He learned to speak the vernacular Taiwanese fluently, and married Tiuⁿ Chhang-miâ (張聰明; known as "Minnie" in the West), a Taiwanese woman.

He was described by a contemporary as

The churches he planted later becoming the Northern Synod of the present Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. In 1896, after the establishment of Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan, Mackay met with the Japanese Governor-General of Formosa, Maresuke Nogi.

Even today, some families in Taiwan, particularly of lowland-aboriginal Kavalan ancestry, trace their surname '偕' ('Kai' or 'Kay') to their family's conversion to Christianity by Mackay.

In Canada, he was honoured during his two furloughs home by the Canadian Church. In 1880, Queen's College in Kingston, Ontario awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity, presented by Principal George Monro Grant and Chancellor Sandford Fleming. Before departing in 1881, he returned to Oxford County, where monies were raised to start Oxford College in Taiwan; a number of young people in the county were inspired to follow Mackay example and entered into missionary service with a number of Christian denominations.

In June 1894, at the General Assembly meeting in St. John, New Brunswick, Mackay was elected Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the highest elected position in the church. He spent the following Moderatoral year travelling across Canada, as well as writing "From Far Formosa: the island, its people and missions", a missionary ethnography and memoir of his missionary experiences (published 1895).

Legacy

Like many of the Western anthropologists and missionaries of his time, Mackay is considered by some to have had an ethnocentric view of the world.Fact|date=March 2008 For example, Mackay appears to have enjoyed the burning of his Aboriginal converts' non-Christian objects of worship. In his 1896 book "From Far Formosa," Mackay wrote about his rough apartment in a recently converted Aboriginal village: "To that place the cast-off machinery of idolatry was brought, and more than once I dried my clothes before fires made of idolatrous paper, idols, and ancestral tablets. Three men were employed to carry other paraphernalia of idol-worship to the museum in Tanshui" (Mackay, 1896:219). Despite his ethnocentrism, Mackay's "From Far Formosa" is considered an important early missionary ethnography of Taiwan and an important contribution to the anthropological understanding of the culture and customs of the people of Taiwan during that period. In addition, Mackay's collection of various artifacts and specimens of local flora and fauna have become part of the ethnology department of the Royal Ontario Museum (Ontario, Canada) and the Aletheia University Museum (Tamsui, Taiwan).

Although Mackay had suffered from meningitis and malaria, Mackay eventually died of throat cancer on June 2, 1901. He was buried near Oxford College (牛津學堂; now Aletheia University) in Tamsui, Taiwan; more specifically, his grave is in a small cemetery in the eastern corner of the Tamkang Middle School campus. The major private Christian hospital in downtown Taipei is named Mackay Memorial Hospital, built in 1912 to replace the smaller Mackay Hospital he started in Tamsui in 1882. In recent years, Mackay has been promoted and celebrated as part of the rise of Taiwanese nativism and the associated state and civil projects of emphasizing a Taiwanese identity and Taiwan-centred histories.

On June 30, 2004, a large bust statue of George Leslie Mackay was dedicated outside the Oxford County offices in Woodstock, Ontario. There was a large delegation from Taiwan (including representatives from Aletheia University and the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan), the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the United Church of Canada, local, regional, and national dignitaries, and a number of his descendants from across North America.

In November 2006, a Canadian Television documentary was aired titled "The Black Bearded Barbarian of Taiwan". It was broadcast in both Mandarin and English on OMNI 2 as part of their "Signature Series".

See also

*J. Ross Mackay (born 1915), his grandson
*Reverend Thomas Barclay, missionary to Taiwan
*Mackay Memorial Hospital

References

External links

* [http://www.canada-taiwan.org/english/Mackay/ "MacKay and Taiwan", in the website of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Canada]
* Full text of " [http://www.gutenberg.net/etext/1759 The Black-Bearded Barbarian: the life of George Leslie Mackay of Formosa] " by Marian Keith, from Project Gutenberg
* " [http://web.uvic.ca/igov/research/pdfs/Munsterhjelm%20MA%20Thesis.pdf Aborigines Saved Yet Again: Settler Nationalism and Hero Narratives in a 2001 Exhibition of Taiwan Aboriginal Artefacts] " by Mark Munsterhjelm, MA Thesis, Indigenous Governance Program, University of Victoria, Canada.
* " [http://www.tourismoxford.com/indv_characters.cfm?id=67 Tourism Oxford, (Oxford County, Ontario, Canada) Colourful Characters; Rev. George Leslie Mackay 1844-1901.] "
* " [http://www.ocl.net/twinning/mackay.shtml Oxford County Public Library; Oxford County, Ontario Canada -- Reverend George Leslie Mackay 1844-1901] "
* " [http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=6874 Biography at the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online"] "
* " [http://www.clevelandonline.org/English/biographies/mackay/mackay.htm To Taiwan With The Gospel - George Leslie Mackay] "

Persondata
NAME=Mackay, George Leslie
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=偕叡理; 馬偕; Kai Sūi-lí; Má-kai
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Missionary to Formosa (Taiwan)
DATE OF BIRTH=March 21, 1844
PLACE OF BIRTH=Zorra, Oxford County, Canada West (now Ontario), Canada
DATE OF DEATH=June 2, 1901
PLACE OF DEATH=Tamsui, Formosa (Taiwan)


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