The C.J. Mackenzie Building for Engineering was officially opened February 25, 1965, with additions being completed in 1967 and 1970. It replaced previous engineering quarters housed in the Tory Building for Science.
Chalmers Jack Mackenzie attended Dalhousie University and the University of Saskatchewan before going into partnership with an engineering firm in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. For many years, Mackenzie taught engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, while performing various engineering projects for growing prairie towns.
During the First World War, Mackenzie served in France with the 5th Infantry Battalion and awarded the Military Cross in 1918. The following year, Mackenzie returned to the University of Saskatchewan where he was appointed the school’s first Dean of Engineering. As Dean, Mackenzie supervised the design and construction of a number of important public works projects. He was also very active in community affairs; serving on the Saskatoon City Council, and on the Board of Director’s of the Saskatoon City Hospital. His work with the hospital led to interest in field research. He was particularly interested in the deterioration of concrete due to the sulphate content of prairie groundwater, a major problem facing prairie communities at that time.
The Canadian Encyclopedia has called C.J. Mackenzie “the single most important figure in the postwar growth of Canadian science”.