W. Roy MacKenzie

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W. Roy MacKenzie
Born William Roy MacKenzie
(1883-02-14)February 14, 1883
River John, Pictou County, Nova Scotia
Died September 1957 (aged 73–74)
River John, Pictou County, Nova Scotia
Nationality Canadian
Education Dalhousie University (B.A., M.A.); Harvard University (M.A., PhD.); Dalhousie University (Honorary LLD)
Occupation folklorist, author
Known for Collecting songs and stories in Nova Scotia

William Roy MacKenzie (commonly known as W. Roy MacKenzie) was a Canadian folklorist and author who collected songs and ballads in Nova Scotia in the early 20th century.

Influence of Francis Child[edit]

While at Harvard, MacKenzie was among members of an increasingly prominent group of English professors influenced by the work of Francis Child, an American folklorist who collected what is now known as the Child Ballads.[1]

Song collecting in Nova Scotia[edit]

MacKenzie was the first of several people to collect songs in Nova Scotia, and his Ballads and Sea Songs remains an important collection of the province's traditional music. In his introduction to MacKenzie's 1909 article in the Journal of American Folklore, Kittredge noted that,

"The conditions in Nova Scotia have been such as to render the evidence which [MacKenzie] has collected highly typical. Several processes which we are often obliged to infer or to conjecture with respect to the course of tradition through long periods of time, have there gone on with such rapidity that their history may be followed by means of the recollection of living persons."[2]

His work influenced Helen Creighton, one of Canada's most prolific song collectors.[3] MacKenzie and Creighton are the most prominent collectors of Nova Scotia traditional songs, but others, such as Louise Manny, collected songs in the province as well.


  1. ^ Wilgus, D.K. (1959), p. 144-145.
  2. ^ MacKenzie, R.W. (1909), p. 327.
  3. ^ Creighton, H. (1975), p. 48.


  • Creighton, H. (1975). A life in folklore. Toronto, Montreal: McGraw-Hill Ryerson.
  • Kallmann, H. (2008). MacKenzie, William Roy. In Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Historica Foundation of Canada. Retrieved on February 29, 2008 from http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=U1ARTU0002147.
  • MacKenzie, W.R. (1909). Ballad-singing in Nova Scotia. The Journal of American Folklore (22)85, 327-331.
  • MacKenzie, W.R. (1963). Ballads and sea songs from Nova Scotia. Hatboro, PA: Folklore Associates. 421 p.
  • Wilgus, D.K. (1959). Anglo-American folk song scholarship since 1898. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. xx, 466 p.