MacKINLAY (Mackinlay, McKinlay, Mckinley), ANDREW, businessman and philanthropist; b. 1800, in Stirlingshire, Scotland, the son of John MacKinlay; m. first on 26 Jan. 1829 Barbara Goodfellow (d. 1833), by whom he had four children and secondly, on 8 Aug. 1836, Margaret Alardyce, by whom he had seven children; d. 29 Sept. 1867 at Halifax, N.S.
It is not known when Andrew MacKinlay immigrated to Nova Scotia, but by 1826 he had opened a book and stationery store in Halifax. In 1827 he was joined by his brother William, thus forming the firm of A. and W. MacKinlay. Initially, the MacKinlays concentrated on building a solid reputation as sellers of books, paper products, and writing implements. However, with increasing interest in education in the province during the 1850s, the firm expanded and began reprinting school texts. They were also the original publishers of some locally written books, including Dr Hugo Reid*’s Elements of geography . . . , printed in 1856 with B. Dawson of Montreal.
The subsequent success of the firm as publishers depended largely on a willingness to venture into areas neglected by their competitors. When the Irish National Series was authorized for provincial schools in the late 1850s, the MacKinlays stereotyped most of the volumes and reprinted them in Halifax, while their rivals impatiently awaited the arrival of their expensive American editions. Such an astute business manoeuvre paid off; in 1864 the firm was awarded the government contract for the Nova Scotia Series of Readers. Maps were another educational venture; the firm’s 1862 chart of Nova Scotia received a bronze medal at the 1867 Paris exposition.
Over the years Andrew MacKinlay became associated with other local business concerns, the most notable being the Halifax Gas, Light, and Water Company, organized in 1840. In 1842 he was appointed a director and served as president from 1855 until his death. His business success enabled him to leave an estate valued at more than $38,000.
MacKinlay had first become involved with education in 1835, when he joined the mechanics’ institute, an organization devoted to adult education in the natural sciences. According to the newspaper accounts of MacKinlay’s early lectures, electricity and magnetism were his chief interests. He advanced rapidly in the institute, serving two long terms as president (1838–49, 1855–67); he was apparently a driving force behind the organization, since it was dissolved shortly after his death. His interest in education was evident in other fields as well. He was instrumental in the founding of the Presbyterian Free Church College in Halifax in 1848, and served as its chairman (1852–61) and as a board member (1864–67). From 1849 to 1867 he was a member of the board for Dalhousie College, and from 1852 to 1865 a school commissioner in Halifax.
MacKinlay’s concern for community development was a second significant aspect of his career. During his lifetime he was associated with nearly 20 of the influential political, educational, and social organizations in Halifax. His involvement with civic affairs began in 1841 when he was chosen an alderman for the city of Halifax. He later served twice as mayor (1845–46, 1851–52). In 1846 he was appointed a justice of the peace with special jurisdiction over insolvent debtors, an office he retained until his death. In 1855 his long civic career was rewarded with the office of custos rotulorum for Halifax County, and he filled this position until 1867. The next year he was appointed chairman of the committee for erecting a new courthouse. At the time of his death he was chairman of the local committee for the Paris exposition, an office he had earlier held for the 1851 London exhibition.
His third great interest was the welfare of the young and handicapped. Although he was influential as a board member of the Protestant Orphans’ Home (1860–67), his most lasting contribution in this field was his work with the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, founded in 1856. In his capacity as board chairman (1857–67), MacKinlay did much to lay the foundations for the school’s continued success and sound reputation.
Andrew MacKinlay was respected in Halifax as “a sagacious Scotchman of more than ordinary literary and scientific attainments, and of good business habits.”
PANS, RG 32, 35, no.64; Vertical mss file, Andrew MacKinlay. St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (Halifax), records, 1818–1916 (mfm. at PANS). Acadian Recorder, 4 Oct. 1867. Presbyterian Witness (Halifax), 5 Oct. 1867. Belcher’s farmer’s almanack, 1833–67. W. P. Bell, A genealogical study (2v., Sackville, N.B., 1962). The city of Halifax, the capital of Nova Scotia, Canada: its advantages and facilities (Halifax, 1909). Halifax and its business: containing historical sketch, and description of the city and its institutions . . . (Halifax, 1876).