John Armstrong MacKelvie represented the Yale Riding of British Columbia in the Canadian House of Commons from 1920 to 1924 as a Conservative. John was first elected to the House of Commons in an 1920 by-election held after Martin Burrell, who had been injured in a fire in the Parliament Buildings, was named Librarian for the Library of Parliament.
Image - Marriage registration for John MacKelvie and Jessie McIntyre
As a Parliamentarian, John earned a reputation of being a great public speaker who spoke with great general knowledge on many subjects. He had a huge passion for what he did and the sessions of Parliament weighed heavy upon him as he worried about every issue, large or small. These intense feelings ultimately may have ultimately led to his death.
While in office John served on a number of House of Commons Committees including:
He also served on the Standing Joint Committee on Printing which was logical given his history as an editor for a newspaper.
John was born in Saint John, New Brunswick on September 14, 1865, the son of Thomas Morrison MacKelvie and Sarah Jane Armstrong. He had seven siblings, William (1868-1870), Anne (1870-1941), Norman (1972-1937), Sarah (1875-1879), Thomas (1877-1879), Grace (1879-1883) and Robert (1881-1964). His father Thomas was born in Whithorn, Scotland on January 9, 1836. He died on July 25, 1904 in Milford Station, Nova Scotia. His mother Sarah was born on May 1, 1838 in Ireland and died on February 2, 1916 in Rockland, New Brunswick.
The 1871 and 1881 Censuses of Canada shows John and his family living in Dorchester, Westmorland, New Brunswick.
John moved to Calgary, Alberta in 1883 and served with the Alberta Mounted Rifles during the North-West Rebellion (Riel Rebellion) of 1885. The Albert Mounted Rifles were a Scout Unit that performed as a cavalry troop as well as reconnaissance reporting on parties of Indians.
John moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1888 and to Vernon, British Columbia in 1889, working first at the BX Ranch. Shortly after arriving in Vernon he was arrested for being a horse thief…in error of course! He became editor of the Vernon News in 1893. A position he held for many years.
From 1912 to 1913, John served as a member of a Royal Commission on Labour for the British Columbia government. What we know of today as WorkSafe BC.
John was laid to rest in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Vernon. His wife Jessie died in Vernon on February 16, 1927 and was buried next to John.
On June 4, 1924 John MacKelvie died in office in Ottawa at the age of 58. His service as an MP amounted to 1291 Days (3 years, 6 months, 13 days).
The coroner stated on his death certificate his cause of death as “probably heart block”. His wife accompanied his body back to Vernon on the train. Prior to his funeral his body was reposed in the court house. Due to the volume of people expected, the funeral was held at Polson Park in Vernon.
Image - Death registration for John MacKelvie