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Though Isabel was spared the aftermath of the rebellion – she was born in 1843 in New York, where Mackenzie had fled – the subsequent years of family life, characterized by feast and famine and by the deaths of 6 of her 12 siblings, engendered in her an unease that would dominate her life.
1843 in New York City, 13th child of William Lyon Mackenzie* and Isabel Baxter; m. (Her husband would publish a small volume in 1886 as part of this endeavour.) But Mackenzie was no more successful as a steady provider than he had been as a rebel.
Her hopes began to fade when John failed to achieve success and legal prominence, but the couple was able to send their boys, William Lyon Mackenzie* and Dougall Macdougall (Max), to university and to see their daughter Janet Lindsey (Jennie) successfully married. Their elder daughter, Isabel Christina Grace (Bella), was never in good health and would die in 1915.
Woodside, their residence near Berlin from 1886, was rented.
At the same time she hoped that the youth who displayed much of his grandfather’s promise could be the family’s salvation.
She attempted to guide his life at every turn with gentle loving words that nevertheless made clear her wish to see him follow a path that would facilitate his exploitation of patronage and produce financial security for them all.
Such pressure was not restricted to career choices.
In 1892–93 an adolescent romance was transformed into a family crisis that took on epic proportions when Willie seemed determined to make an inappropriate marriage.
The fact was that in the process she was sometimes bitter, vain, and self-centred.Robert joined the police and married Elizabeth Armour from Renfrew.