Landon Mackenzie was born in 1954 in Boston, Massachusetts. Although neither of her parents were artists, both were active in the cultural life of Toronto, where Mackenzie grew up. The writers, artists, and thinkers who visited the house were, "trying to define Canadian national identity, politically and culturally." Mackenzie recalls her family had a particular involvement with the Painters 11 and the artists associated with the Isaacs Gallery. The effect was manifold: cutting-edge art was fully integrated into Mackenzie’s upbringing and sensibility; notions of Canadian-ness were actively discussed; marriage, motherhood and social conformity were never seen as ultimate goals. Both parents offered her the message "You can do what you want." Mackenzie’s great-grandmother and grandmother were also painters.