Parents: John MCTAVISH (1847-1891) and Catherine Jane WADDELL (1856-1936), married at Perth, Ontario, Canada, 29 May, 1878.
Isabelle McTavish's siblings: John Fraser, James Andrew, Annie (married Thomas Andrew WADDELL).
Although Isabelle McTavish was born near Minnedosa, Manitoba, Canada in 1881, sometime before 1891, her family moved to Newdale, Manitoba. Her father, a farmer and entrepreneur, taught school at Newdale, but died at work in 1891.
McTavish apparently returned home in 1927 during the period of civil war. My mother remembered her speaking in Newdale to raise money for missionary work. (I'm sure this is how my mother first realized how wide the world was outside Newdale. My mum was fascinated with China all her life. I'm glad she did get to travel there at last.)
From 1942 to 1946, she served at the Bonnyville General Hospital in Alberta, Canada (Katherine K. Prettie Hospital), long a project of the Women’s Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church of Canada and later of the United Church of Canada. In 1946, she returned to China to help re-open the hospital at Changte. She left China for the last time in 1949 and returned to Newdale, Manitoba, but very soon moved to Winnipeg. She continued to speak, usually to women’s groups, on missionary and medical work in China, and attended conferences, for instance, a Methodist Missionary conference in New York in 1943.
On the 26th of January, 1953, she died in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She was buried in Newdale in the McTavish family plot. (North side, Newdale’s ‘Oldale’ Cemetery.) Both her brothers and her sister survived her.
Recently there has been more interest in the work of Canadian women and others in medical missions in China, see for example, Healing Henan: Canadian Nurses at the North China Mission, 1888-1947 by Sonya Grypma (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2008) and In War and Famine: Missionaries in China's Honan Province in the 1940s by Erleen Christensen (Montreal, Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005).
So far, there are only brief mentions of Doctor Isabelle McTavish though. I hope in 2009-2010 to write a research piece about her myself.
I'd be interested in learning more about the other women connected with Isabelle McTavish's life, particularly Dr. Lavinia McPhee Green, who I believe has a British Columbian connection.
Here I've used the contemporary newspaper renditions of Chinese place names.