In a July 11, 2015 article on his blog, The Fourth Garrideb - Numismatics of Sherlock Holmes, Greg Ruby wrote about the life and
work of sculptor and medallist R. Tait McKenzie. Here's a short excerpt - be sure to read the complete article online. -Editor
Who is Robert Tait McKenzie, the Canadian born sculptor who created the Three Hours For Lunch Club medal? Here is the biographical
summary that the University of Pennsylvania has for him in the introduction to his archives there:
R. Tait McKenzie was born on May 26, 1867 to William McKenzie, a minister of the Free Church of Scotland, and Catherine Shiells McKenzie.
His father died while McKenzie was a young boy of nine years. McKenzie spent his youth in the town of his birth, Almonte, Ontario. At the age of
eighteen he entered McGill University and stayed nearly twenty years, as undergraduate, medical student, and after earning the M.D. degree in 1892,
as Medical Director of Physical Training and Lecturer in Anatomy. It was in his undergraduate years that his interests in physical education and art
first developed. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, was a childhood friend of McKenzie’s, who attended McGill with him. It was
Naismith who kindled McKenzie’s interest in gymnastic activities later, at McGill, McKenzie assisted Naismith in teaching gymnastics at the
university. This not only gave McKenzie the opportunity to earn money to pay for his education, but served as the beginning of a career in physical
education which would last more than fifty years. It was also at McGill where he developed his theories on physical education.
McKenzie believed that physical education and health activities had a beneficial relationship with the academic program in higher
education. He taught that a full understanding of that relationship helped the student preserve health and physical efficiency, learn certain muscle
skills, and to conduct himself as a gentleman in the social relationships of competitive games. McKenzie’s theme was that exercise kept human beings
well, serving as a preventative measure to illness. In 1904 he was appointed a full faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. McKenzie was
attracted to Pennsylvania by the newly constructed gymnasium at Franklin Field, and viewed this as an opportunity to test his theory of physical
education as a vehicle of preventative medicine. He developed a physical education program which became part of the core curriculum at the
University. His book, Exercise in Education and Medicine, (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1909), set forth the evolution of physical
education in the United States and discussed exercise as a necessity for all individuals.
McKenzie’s first efforts at sculpture resulted from his inability to find sculptured pieces that demonstrated points in lectures on
Fascinating detail about his relationship with James Naismith. -Editor
To read the complete article, see:
Who Is R. Tait McKenzie?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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