Toronto was gripped by loyal fervor for the Empire when England declared war on Germany in 1914.
Although he was well over 50 years old, MacKendrick left with his family for London in 1915 and presented himself at the British War Office.
He was duly put to work supervising the road building in Flanders and promoted to Director of Roads for the British Fifth Army just after the Battle of the Somme in November 1916.
Construction crews suffered a constant barrage. Yet sound roads were critical to keep a constant supply of men and equipment in the trenches and to move the dead and injured back to camp.
Incessant mortar bombardment liquefied the usually muddy farmers’ fields. Once “over the top,” soldiers had to brave not only shrapnel and negotiate the land mine craters but also avoid quicksand-like mud holes. Into this chaotic environment entered MacKendrick, whose skills in rapid road construction on mud surface had been honed in Toronto.
His accomplishments in the field were not overlooked – he emerged with medals and honours at the conclusion of war, remaining in France for a period to take part in the reconstruction.
However, the trauma of the war was to reinforce his desire to take up a reclusive life in Oakville.
To read more go to Menu: “Paving the Way to Paradise…” Chapter Six.