Isabel Ecclestone Mackay

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Isabel Ecclestone Mackay
Isabel Ecclestone Mackay.jpg
Born Isabel Ecclestone Macpherson
(1875-11-25)November 25, 1875
Woodstock, Ontario
Died August 15, 1928(1928-08-15) (aged 52)
Language English
Nationality Canadian
Spouse Peter John MacKay

Isabel Ecclestone Mackay (November 25, 1875 – August 15, 1928), born Isabel Ecclestone Macpherson, was a Canadian writer.


Mackay was born on November 25, 1875 in Woodstock, Ontario. She was the daughter of Donald McLeod MacPherson, an early Scottish settler of Oxford County, and Priscilla Ecclestone of England. Mackay was educated at the Woodstock Collegiate Institute.[1][2] At the age of 15 she started writing for Canadian newspapers and magazines.[3] From 1890 to 1909 Mackay contribute to the Woodstock Daily Express using the pseudonym "Heather".[4]

Mackay married Peter John Mackay, a court stenographer, in 1895. Together they had three daughters: Phyllis, Margaret, and Janet Priscilla.[2] The family moved to Vancouver in 1909, after Peter landed a position with the British Columbia Supreme Court.[4] The couple would remain in Vancouver until their deaths, with Mackay making her mark as a prominent member of the literary community.[1] Among her close friends were E. Pauline Johnson and Marjorie Pickthall, both of whom Mackay cared for at the end of their lives. She also played an integral role in the release of their final books, as a member of the trust that oversaw the release of Johnson's Legends of Vancouver (1911) and as a hostess to Pickthall who wrote The Wood Carver's Wife (1922) at the Mackay summer home in Boundary Bay.[4]

Over the last 34 years of her life, she published six novels, four collections of poems and five plays, in addition to contributing over three hundred poems and short stories to various publications. Mackay was the founder of the British Columbia chapter of the Canadian Women's Press Club, serving as its vice-president in 1914 and, subsequently, as its president 1916. She also served as the Vice-President of the Vancouver chapter of the Canadian Authors Association from 1922 to 1926.[3] In 1926 her play "Treasure" won the open Canadian Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire contest.[5]

Mackay died of cancer on August 15, 1928.[5][4] She had been sick for a year prior to her death.[6]

Select bibliography[edit]

Children's books[edit]



Between the lights. Toronto: W. Briggs. 1904. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 


  1. ^ a b Campbell, Sandra; McMullen, Lorraine, eds. (1991). "Isabel Ecclestone Mackay (1875-1928) - The Despair of Sandy MacIntosh (1905)". New women short stories by Canadian women, 1900-1920 (2. print ed.). Ottawa [Ont.]: University of Ottawa Press. pp. 97–97. ISBN 9780776603230. 
  2. ^ a b Garvin, John William, ed. (1916). "Isabel Eccleston MacKay". Canadian poets. Toronto: McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart. pp. 237–246. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Dagg, Anne Innis, ed. (2006). "Mackay, Isabel Ecclestone Macpherson". The Feminine Gaze a Canadian Compendium of Non-Fiction Women Authors and Their Books, 1836-1945. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p. 182. ISBN 9780889208452. 
  4. ^ a b c d Godard, Barbara (2005). "Macpherson, Isabel Ecclestone (Mackay)". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. 15. University of Toronto/Université Laval. Retrieved 1 April 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "Mackay, Isabel Ecclestone fonds". University of Waterloo Library. Special Collections & Archives. 22 July 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "Mrs. Isabel E. Mackay: Canadian Novelist and Poet Dies After a Long Illness". New York Times (Paywall subscription). 16 August 1928. p. 15. 

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