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Dr. Kenneth B. McRae P. Stat (retired)


Dr. Kenneth B. McRae P. Stat (retired)
Dr. Kenneth B. McRae P. Stat (retired)

After a full life that was transformed in Canada, Kenneth died on May 1, 2024. He was the fifth child of farmers, George and Florence McRae of New Zealand. Apart from his parents, he was predeceased by his wife Murdina in 2021; brothers, Colin (Shirley), Ian (Margaret, Beryl); and sisters, Marjorie and Shirley (Robert Wood); and nephew, Neil. He is survived by daughters, Sheena and Christina; grandsons, Joshua (Kristen), Alexander (Gabrielle), and Iain Thomas; great-grandson, Luka; brother, Alan (Susan); and many nephews and nieces.

He grew up in the then isolated farming valley of Mokoreta, New Zealand, and attended a one-room school with eight grades (where he was advanced a year because of his arithmetic skills). On a few occasions he rode a horse the four miles to school. After four years boarding at Waitaki Boys’ High School, he attended Dunedin Teachers’ Training College. He was a student-teacher for one year until he was old enough to go to Teachers’ College. After three more years as an elementary school teacher in New Zealand, he immigrated to Canada in 1962.

With only the standard New Zealand two-year teacher training, he felt inferior to the four-year trained teachers in Canada. Embracing new academic opportunities while teaching in Castlegar BC, he began studying toward a degree with a double major in mathematics and physics at UBC. During a full year at UBC, he met and married the love of his life, Murdina Macdonald, in 1965. After two years teaching high school in Kitimat, BC, which included the birth of daughter Sheena Mairi, he completed his five-year B.Ed. (Sec) degree at his fifth summer school.

The family moved to Oregon where Ken took up a teaching assistantship to undertake a master’s degree in statistics, which would entitle him to the top teaching certificate in BC. Fate intervened as he became intrigued with statistical applications in scientific studies. The one-year venture led to four years and a PhD with an emphasis on experimental expertise. Murdina qualified as a registered nurse in Oregon and worked part-time to support her husband through graduate school. In the midst of this period, they were blessed with the birth of their daughter, Christina Ann. As a student activist, Ken worked with fellow graduate students to stress the need for students to acquire marketable skills in graduate school. Ken and Murdina were active in building a supportive community within the multinational married-student compound.

In 1971, the family moved back to Canada when Ken accepted a position with the Health Protection Branch and the Canadian Centre for Disease Control in Ottawa. Three years later, Ken found his dream position as Regional Research Statistician for the Atlantic provinces with Agriculture Canada, based in Kentville, NS. He collaborated with research scientists in many areas, being an author or coauthor on close to 180 peer-reviewed research papers. His expertise was enhanced by two year-long work transfers to Rothamsted Research Centre in England and later to Biomathematics and Agricultural Statistics in Edinburgh, Scotland.

His involvement with statistical societies led to the establishment of accreditation for professional statisticians in Canada. In recognition of Ken’s leadership with this venture, in 2003 he received the first Professional Statistician designation in Canada (P.Stat. Certificate Number 1).

Murdina and Ken delighted in their active life in the Annapolis Valley, both being countryfolk at heart. They were active members of the United Church of St. Paul and St. Stephen in Kentville and later attended the United Church in Wolfville with Christina and sons. Both were founding members of the Canard Community Church and Ken was an active member of the property committee. As devoted parents to their daughters Sheena and Christina, and as proud grandparents to Joshua, Alexander, and Iain Thomas, they were heavily involved in school activities and sports for more than 50 years.

At home, Ken enjoyed gardening and house repairs, often engaging his grandsons in the various trade work. He was an avid woodworker, designing and creating kitchen cabinets and almost all the furniture in their home. With Murdina's lead, they were part of the local Scottish culture, playing major roles at times in Clan Donald, Scottish Country Dancing, Burns Suppers, the Kirkin’ of the Tartan at the Covenantor Church, and singing with the Gaelic choir.

Ken exemplified a life well-lived, in service to both family and community. He accepted his final illness with characteristic grace and pragmatism. Although his death is a tremendous loss, the family is comforted by the messages received from so many testifying to the impact Ken had on their lives, and by the many acts of kindness extended to us over the past few months. We would like to thank the palliative care team (especially Mallory Williams, RN) and the VON for their outstanding care. This support enabled us to care for Ken at home in his final weeks as per his wishes. His passing was peaceful with daughters Sheena and Christina at his side.

Thanks is also extended to Dr. Dwight Klippenstine, the QEII Health Sciences Centre oncology and gastroenterology units, Emergency Health Services, and Valley Regional Hospital’s emergency and chemotherapy departments for their professional and compassionate care. Deep appreciation is also extended to those that give the gift of blood.

Donations in memory can be made to the Victorian Order of Nurses or the Valley Hospital Foundation. A private burial has taken place at the Canard Burial Grounds. A memorial service will be held at Canard Community Church on May 16, 2024, at 7:00pm. All are welcome.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the White Family Funeral Home and Cremation Services, Kentville. Online condolences and inquiries may be directed to

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Service Date
Thursday, May 16, 2024
Service Time
7:00 p.m.
Service Location
Canard Community Church, Canard, Nova Scotia

Burial Location
Canard Burial Ground, Canard, Nova Scotia

Requested Charity
Victorian Order of Nurses or the Valley Hospital Foundation