Marylin and Murray Mackenzie '65

Written by Rosella '22
Fifty-eight years ago Marylin McNaughton made the decision to move to Switzerland and attend Neuchâtel Junior College, this is where she met Murray Mackenzie who coincidentally had the same idea. It was orientation week and Marilyn's 17th birthday when the two met; little did they know that they were both meeting the future loves of their lives and that a couple of years later they would be married with two daughters.
During their time at NJC, they went on trips to destinations such as Spain, Morocco, and many places in Italy like Florence, Tuscany, and Rome where they visited the Vatican on Palm Sunday and had the opportunity to be blessed by the Pope. During their trips they had more of these amazing experiences like being able to go behind the iron curtain into Hungary and interacting with Hungarian youth on the east side.

They both made lifelong friendships with the majority of the class, especially with their roommates, who would later become Best Man and Maid of Honour at Murray and Marilyn's wedding. To this day they see each other every year. In fact, very few classes keep in touch like they do; it's been more than fifty years and a week doesn't go by without them being in touch with somebody they met at NJC. Whether it's the group in Toronto that gets together every summer for a barbecue or the ski group in BC, the class certainly keeps in touch. 

Marylin reflects that having the opportunity to travel and see how different so many people's lives are from her own made her feel an obligation to try and help other people in the world have the kinds of freedoms and opportunities that she had. There is a quote they use a lot in their family that says “to whom much is given, much is expected” (Luke 12:48). In other words, they were blessed with these incredible opportunities to see the world so they have an obligation to give back and become “citizens of the world,” as they say.

Murray says that when he went to Neuchâtel, he saw the way people in other countries tackle the same problems which Canada faced. There are so many different perspectives on problems and opportunities facing us. “Most people didn't know what they didn't know and so I've gone through life thinking that no matter how good we think we're doing in this area, someone else out there has found a better way,” says Murray. He says he mostly enjoyed meeting new people and the interactions he got to have, that those interesting people have really great ideas and can give so much insight and information that otherwise would never have. They say that when you study in another country you study your own country, and how different cultures do different things.

After graduating high school, both Murray and Marylin attended University of Toronto. Murray graduated three times from the University of Toronto - he did undergraduate work in economics, postgraduate work and a masters in political science and graduated from the Faculty of Medicine. Marylin also went to U of T for nursing and followed that with a masters in adult education. Marilyn's career has centered around trying to mobilize volunteers to do work that needs to be done like training people in health care, in education, and trying to give people the courage to work together. She says, “that is also a result of having been in Neuchatel and realizing that I was a very privileged person and that I had an obligation to make the world a better place.” She was head nurse in the Hospital for Sick Kids, which is the biggest hospital for children in Canada, and she specialized in working with pediatric cancer.

Murray has worked in healthcare at two of the best hospitals in Toronto, Mount Sinai Hospital where he worked for sixteen years before becoming CEO at North York General.  Meanwhile, he volunteered for a number of different organizations in which Marilyn got involved. Murray also headed a group of healthcare workers who wanted to do something about the AIDS situation in Africa in a time when there was no care or treatment in that part of the world; he was one of three founding directors of Ontario Hospitals in Africa. He was the chairman of the Ontario Hospital Association when they decided to go to South Africa and change the communities’ whole experience in regards to AIDS. They got involved and changed many people's lives. “If you can do something about this, you have to; it's your moral obligation,” says Murray. To this day they're still involved on a volunteer basis. It's fair to say that they've both changed the lives of so many people and continue to do so. 

Marylin and Murray currently live in West Vancouver. Their daughters, Jennifer and Kathy, became the second generation to attend NJC and this year their granddaughter Olivia is part of NJC’s Class of 2022. Neuchâtel Junior College hugely impacted Marilyn and Murray’s love for travel and even now they're always looking for a new adventure that involves travelling and learning even more about the world. “When you actually travel and see issues right in front of you, it's so much more meaningful than just reading about it. It compels you to act.”  
Neuchâtel Junior College offers the unique opportunity to study Canadian curriculum abroad. While living in Switzerland in a French community, students enjoy an international education through travel and experiential learning in Europe. Gap year and Grade 12  high school students gain international experience and develop independence and life skills that prepare them for university and the global workplace.

A Canadian high school in Switzerland | Grade 12 & Gap