Doctor Mackay Statue

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Zhong zheng Road, Tamsui, Taiwan

Doctor Mackay Statue Tamsui Reviews

davejo davejo
279 reviews
Dr. Mackay, the bearded Scotsman who did so much for Tamsui Feb 10, 2017
Walking along Zhongzheng Road (Old Street) you will reach a small roundabout with a tiny park in the middle and a bust of Dr. Mackay (1844-1901). The doctor has a huge long beard and looks rather fearsome but he was the most famous western resident to make Tamsui his home. George Leslie Mackay was a Presbyterian Missionary and served with the Canadian branch, and although from Scottish stock he was born in Canada, studying there and in Edinburgh, Scotland, both places were Presbyterian institutions. In 1871 he became the first foreign missionary to be commissioned by the Canadian Presbyterian Church, and arrived in Tamsui in 1872 and remained there until his death in 1901. He practiced dentistry among the lowland aborigines but later established churches, schools and hospitals, spoke Taiwanese and married a local woman, "Minnie" Tiu.


From the roundabout where Dr. Mackay has his statue there is a small street leading from the roundabout to the north and it is called Mackay Street . It is very narrow but there are several famous buildings there including the hospital and church that Mackay built.


Dr. Mackay spent many years performing operations in rented houses, starting not so long after his arrival in Tamsui, but in 1879 he established the Hobe Mackay Hospital an Mackay Street which was the first western hospital in Northern Taiwan. . This was actually the forerunner of the Mackay Memorial Hospital in downtown Taipei. Mackay designed it himself and had touches of Western architecture with the windows in a Chinese style building. The hospital is now a cafe but visitors are free to wander around and see his original iron bed, books, sink, medical implements and many more antiques, photos and information boards.

I found it particularly interesting seeing his whole family (native wife and three sons)dressed up in Scottish attire.


Mackay built a simple church during his first years in Tamsui but in 1933 the old church was renovated using red bricks. The design was by his son and commemorated the 60 years since the missionary arrived at Tamsui. Many worshipers attend the church services every week and you may be lucky to visit on these occasions as it is the only time that the church is open. I was lucky as a service was just finishing. Of course you are free to walk around the grounds anytime, and more than likely there will be several Taiwanese tourists taking photos as it is a very popular place to visit.


If you continue up Mackay Street, past the old hospital and church you will cross Wenhua Road on an overpass then you will see about 15 or more paintings on the wall on your left. Most of the paintings are of the church, river and other attractions in the town of Tamsui. I have no idea if they were all made by one person or different people but the local places are easily recognisable and quite skilfully painted.


After viewing the Foreign Cemetery through the bars in the fence i was hoping that the Mackay Family Cemetery was going to be more accessible but it turned out to be a waste of my time walking there as again i could not gain access. There was a wall erected between the two cemeteries and he wanted to be buried on the other side of it, according to his will. They eventually decided to call the burial place on his side of the wall the Mackay Family Cemetery and later his wife, descendants and some students were also buried there. The tall obelisk in the photo above is the grave of Mackay and there is Chinese writing on one side with English on the other.

Mackay actually died of throat cancer although he suffered from malaria and meningitis.


The Mackays certainly had the most beautiful house in Tamsui and you can visit it today. The house was built in 1875, 14 years after his arrival and he actually married his local Taiwanese wife here. This is also where Mackays had their three children and where he eventually passed away. It is now owned by Aletheia University and looks exceptionally good with the terrace and white buildings. During the time of Mackay he would hold meetings here, receive guests and house his huge collection of artifacts as well as specimens of flora and fauna.


While walking along the riverside you will come to a wonderful sculpture of Dr. Mackay and his boat. The boat is sunken into the path while Mackay kneels down in prayer upon reaching Tamsui. During high tide the water sometime covers the boat so there is talk of relocating the sculpture. On 9th March 1972 Mackay was dropped off by the passenger ship "Sea Dragon" and rowed ashore at 8 am. This sculpture was unveiled in 2007 and shows him praying with a bible and his bag in the boat and is supposed to show the spirit of Mackay who would make Tamsui his home for the remainder of his years.
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