History of the MacKinnon Dinner

Father Hugh MacKinnon was a Professor of Medieval History in the History Department here, at the University of Waterloo. He was an accomplished professor who won an Ontario-wide award for teaching excellence and served as Department Chair in the late 1970s.  Professor MacKinnon valued intellectual stimulation and good conversation. He firmly believed that proper attire and venue promoted serious study and thus, he always lectured in his Oxford University gown. Professor MacKinnon also loved great food and good drink.

Professor MacKinnon died tragically while on vacation in Mexico in December 1981. Following his death, Professor MacKinnon’s mother and his three brothers each donated substantial amounts to a fund in his memory, soon followed by other donations from friends and colleagues. The MacKinnon family requested an annual departmental commemorative event.

In light of this request, conversations between the family and some of Professor MacKinnon’s friends in the Department followed. It was agreed that the event should celebrate his enjoyment of food and drink. It was also felt that the event should honour Professor MacKinnon’s devotion to scholarship and teaching. Therefore, an enjoyable dinner was paired with an intellectual lecture by an outside speaker of noteworthy accomplishments. The topic changes from year to year and covers a different theme, time period and area of expertise. The History Society tries to choose a speaker of recent historical significance, be they a professor from another university, a noted journalist or a popular author or philosopher.

Whatever the topic or whoever the speaker, the MacKinnon Dinner is the highlight of the undergraduate academic year for both students and faculty in the Department of History. We hope you will consider attending this auspicious occasion as part of your academia here in History at the University of Waterloo.

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