(1850–87). Born in Dublin of an educated and cultured family, she came to Canada in 1858, living first in Paisley, Canada West (Ontario), where her father, Dr Stephen Dennis Crawford, was the first doctor. She moved with her family to Lakefield, staying initially in the house of Robert Strickland, nephew of Mrs Moodie and Mrs Traill; then to Peterborough, where Dr Crawford died in 1875 and Isabella's only surviving sister died in 1876; and finally to Toronto, remaining there with her mother in poverty until her death from heart failure. The Crawford family history is a record of hardships that included the childhood deaths of all of the twelve or thirteen Crawford children except Isabella Valancy, Emma Naomi, and Stephen Walter; the family's frequent moves and progressive impoverishment; and the disgrace of Dr Crawford's trial and conviction for misappropriation of public funds while he was township treasurer in Paisley. This event—accounts of which Eric Parker has uncovered in the Paisley Advocate (1865, 1866, and 1867)—provides a hitherto unsuspected explanation for the Crawford family's later reputation for being proud and keeping to themselves.
From The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature in Oxford Reference.