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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

LT. COL. DAN MACKINNON

Inducted in 1961

Member Details

Date of Birth: November 12, 1876
Place of Birth: Highfield, Prince Edward Island
Date of Passing: December 24, 1964
Sport: Horse Racing
Member Category: Builder

Career Highlights

1897-99
Maritime mile championship
1923
World ice racing record - The Yank
1930-1947
Charlottetown Driving Park, owner
1930-61
U.S. Trotting Association, Maritimes director
Honoured Member LT. COL. DAN MACKINNON
Inspire

Story


Lt. Col. Dan MacKinnon was a self-made man whose passion in life was to make Prince Edward Island and the Maritimes an important home to harness racing, the sport he loved. MacKinnon was an all-around athlete typical of the late-19th century. When not putting himself through pharmacy school to become P.E.I.'s first registered pharmacist, he found the time to run to the Maritime mile championship three straight years and play football. MacKinnon was also an accomplished marksman, a skill that served him well during his service in the military. During the First World War, he won the Distinguished Service Order for his service at the Somme and, after Passchendaele, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre, France's highest military award. But MacKinnon's first love was harness racing. He bought his first horse in 1890 and began training and racing a stable soon after. During one 12-day period in 1915, his pacer Helen R won an amazing 15 of 16 starts. He returned to harness racing after his military career, and in 1931, in Charlottetown, his pacer Volo Rico beat the then-undefeated American horse Eula H. MacKinnon also raced on ice, setting the world ice-racing record at Mount Clemens, Michigan in 1923 aboard The Yank and later driving Present Medium to the Canadian record for ice trotting at Toronto's Dufferin Park. MacKinnon's contributions to harness racing were wide ranging. During his life, he owned and trained 78 horses. Starting in 1920, he owned the Charlottetown Guardian, P.E.I.'s largest daily newspaper, and for more than 20 years he contributed a weekly column on harness racing called "Down the Back Stretch." In 1930, he bought the Charlottetown Driving Park and Provincial Exhibition, building it into an important regional centre for harness racing before selling it in 1947. He also served as president of the provincial exhibition association. Finally, MacKinnon was a strong supporter of the U.S. Trotting Association, serving as the USTA's regional director in the Maritimes from 1930 to 1961, during which time he helped to promoted harness racing throughout the region. MacKinnon continued to be actively involved in harness racing throughout his life. In 1959, at the age of 82, he was still racing two horses—the trotter Windy June and the pacer Stalag Hanover- with success throughout the Maritimes. Even in 1962, a year after his induction to the Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, he and pacer Blue Skylark were to be found on the track.


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