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The Life of Peter Colley McKenzie and Margaret Thompson McMaster

(as written by Susan Jessie Wiseman)

Peter Colley McKenzie and Margaret Thompson McMaster – wedding, 1888. Source: Kurt Holmes,

Peter Colley McKenzie (b. 19 July 1865, d. 3 October 1949) and Margaret Thompson McMaster (b. 5 February 1865, d. 26 September 1955) were married (on 19 September 1888) at Margaret’s parent’s home at (27) Whitehall Street, Footscray, Victoria.

(Peter and Margaret had four children:

  • Percival Lloyd McKenzie (1889–1975),
  • Margaret Thompson McKenzie (1891–1906)
  • Susan Mary Jessie Wiseman (1893-1990)
  • Lucy/Lucie McKenzie (1898–1986).

Margaret passed away at 17 (with brain fever.)

Daily News, Perth, Saturday 28 August 1915, page 11 – R T McMaster, WA Heroes. Source: Trove

Margaret’s brother, Robert Thompson McMaster, came to Western Australia before Government was proclaimed (21 October 1890). He was an architect and lived in Victoria Park. He was Mayor of Victoria Park Council for many years (1897 and 1906-1907) and used to own the old Central Arcade buildings opposite Perth Railway Station.

He was a Captain in the original 10th Light Horse and was killed in action on 7 August 1915 at Gallipoli at Walkers Ridge, Gallipoli Peninsula. McMaster Street, Victoria Park was named in his honour.

Peter Colley McKenzie and Margaret Thompson McMaster. Source Kurt Holmes,

My father, Peter Colley McKenzie, was a contractor in Melbourne till the land boom. He had buildings and his own home in Williamstown and went to West Australia to help do all the fancy plastering on His Majesty’s Hotel in Hay Street and the Horseshoe Bridge.

Later he was a pioneer of the Merredin District Council at Hines Hill, taking up some 3,000 acres of virgin farming ground in around 1904-1905, and was there until the 1940s when he retired to Perth through ill health. He was also a very long term member of the Freemasons and helped to start the Kellerberrin Lodge and the Merredin Freemasons Lodge; he was a past Grandmaster PGGW when he died in 1949 at age 89 years in Perth, WA (death notices in the paper indicate he was well regarded by many lodges).

McKenzie Farm House, Hines Hill, undated. Source: Cash Family

Our first home on the farm was a weatherboard bungalow. We all spent some lovely happy times in it. It was the first home built with a wooden floor and we used to hold all the dances there. People came from everywhere on horses, and horse and carts – there was no other transport in those days. Everyone brought supper, and many happy times were spent by everyone.

Merredin Mercury and Central Districts Index, Thursday 23 September 1926, page 5 – Social and Personal, Mrs P C McKenzie. Source: Trove

Mum and dad never minded how many came; they were all made welcome. Mum and dad were very young in those days and had never been out of the city till they moved to Hines Hill. I often wondered how mum used to manage. Northam was our nearest place to get things, doctor etc. She learned to make her own bread and to milk cows besides looking after the family and helping dad with the clearing etc. At night they used to look at the trees burning and say it was Swanston Street, Melbourne.

Our parents used to sing to us all their favourite hymns and songs for us to learn. We had a piano and a cylinder-style gramophone. There wasn’t any wireless in those days.

Hines Hill Station, undated. Source: @merredinrailway

The Kalgoorlie railway and water pipe lines divided our property on both sides of the road. Hines Hill Station used to have a refreshment room; people on the train used to get their dinner there; Merredin wasn’t built till much later nor was the railway to Bruce Rock and Nungarin. The railway surveyor and his team of men and camel teams stayed at our place.

Eastern Recorder, Friday 19 January 1917, page 2 – Local and General, P C McKenzie. Source: Trove
Eastern Recorder, Kellerberrin, Friday 25 August 1916, page 2 – Local and General, P C McKenzie. Source: Trove
Western Mail, Perth, Thursday 11 September 1930, page 36 – Notabilities, P C McKenzie. Source: Trove


Independent, Footscray, Saturday 5 September 1903, page 2 – Obituary, R T McMaster. Source: Trove

Grandma McKenzie was Margaret Thompson McMaster. She was born in Ballarat, Victoria. Her father, Robert Thompson McMaster (1830-1903), was at Eureka Stockade and finished as a mine manager. They lived at Malmsbury. Mum went to ladies college either in Ballarat or Malmsbury – not sure which. Her cousins were the Coles who owned the Ballarat Hotel in those days. They also owned a large farm out of Ballarat. I know one sister was named Harriet and mum and dad stayed with her when they went on a trip about 1912.

Mum had two brothers and two sisters:

  • George Thompson McMaster (1856-1923, year of birth unconfirmed)
  • Robert Thompson McMaster (1866-1915)
  • Susan Isabella Gilmore (nee McMaster, 1854-1939)
  • Jessie Elizabeth Ainger (nee McMaster, 1869-1899)

Jessie Ainger passed away prior to 1900. George lived at Arncliffe in Sydney and was in charge of Hats at Farmers Department Store. Susan lived on a farm in the Goulburn Valley area before moving to New South Wales taking up land in Walleroobie near Ardlethan (NSW Riverina area).

Penshurst Free Press, Saturday 23 August 1913, page 4 – Patent, A B McKenzie. Source: Trove

Grandpa McKenzie was from Greenwich, England and came to Australia when he was nine years old. His father Andrew McKenzie (Andrew Brown McKenzie, b. 22 April 1838 at Wemyss, Fife, Scotland, d. 1914 at Glen Huntly, Victoria), lived at Middle Park, Victoria. He was a foreman at the Williamstown Railways, and devised the white arrow on the running board of all carriages to show where the brakes were placed (Note: no evidence of this patent but there is evidence of him patenting at least one idea).

Grandpa was the eldest child of a family of nine (ten, sadly it appears Margaret died at birth or in her first year):

  • Peter Colley (1865-1949) – my father
  • John McKenzie (1867-1882)
  • Lucy Edith Kilpatrick, nee McKenzie (1869-1950): 1 child, Mary Catherine
  • Janet Brown Lamb, nee McKenzie (Jessie refers to her as Jean) (1872-1952)
  • Margaret McKenzie (1875-1875)
  • William Deans McKenzie (1877-1946): two boys, one girl
  • May Arthur (1878-1953): 1 child, Violet Grace
  • Alice Hopkins, nee McKenzie (1880-1970)
  • Robert Brown McKenzie (1882-?): two girls (he was manager of the Tin Department of Griffith Chocolate for 50 years and was given a big send off when he retired)
  • Edith Ellen Rabley, nee McKenzie (1885-1937): 1 girl, Phyliss

His wife, Mary Colley, was born in Wales (Note: ancestry records indicate Yorkshire, England). Her mother was Matron of a general hospital.

And that is where Jessie’s recollection ended.


West Australian, Saturday 18 September 1948, page 1 – Diamond Wedding, P C McKenzie. Source: Trove

Peter and Margaret celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on 19 September 1948.


West Australian, Tuesday 4 October 1949, page 1 – Death Notice, P C McKenzie. Source: Trove

Peter Colley McKenzie died at Royal Perth Hospital on 3 October 1949. At the time the family (4 generations: Peter and Margaret McKenzie, Arthur and Lucie Moore, Doug and Joan cash and their two children, Lynne and Pam) were all living at 196 Cambridge Street, Wembley (see Doug Cash blog for more info).

Margaret Thompson McMaster died on 26 September 1955.

West Australian, Saturday 15 October 1949, page 1 – Bereavement Notice, P C McKenzie. Source: Trove