One of her uncles had been the mayor of Ottawa. Another was the mayor of Montreal. A third uncle was a famous doctor, and a fourth was a millionaire. Cordelia’s father had been a partner in a successful hardware business called Frothingham & Workman.
Archie came from a humbler background, but he couldn’t be matched for brains, energy, talent and integrity.
In 1875, while still working as the headmaster of the high school in Hawkesbury, he married Cordelia, graduated from Queen’s with his M.A. degree, and accepted a new position as headmaster of the Kingston Collegiate Institute.
Archie continued to teach and study. In 1872 he graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston. On a Friday afternoon, he handed in his last exam paper, and on Monday morning he took over as headmaster of the high school in Renfrew. He held that position for two years.
Then he moved to Hawkesbury and became the first headmaster of its newly-built high school. At the same time, he was studying for his Master’s degree. And if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy…he met someone.
A new teacher was needed at the schoolhouse in Renfrew. Archie Knight–the boy who loathed farming and lumbering–was just 16 years old, and unqualified. But he got the job, on the condition that he would pass his teaching exam in the fall.
So he taught all day and studied in the evenings. In November, he walked about 30 km (18.6 miles) to Arnprior, wrote the exam, passed it, and walked home again. Archie had found his calling.
When Archie Knight was 15 years old, his father died suddenly of pneumonia. Archie was a scholar at heart, but money was desperately needed to keep the large family going. So he left school and joined his mother and siblings in the struggle to make ends meet.
Later, he wrote: “I had tasted life on the farm and life in the lumber camps and loathed both of them.”
Archibald Patterson Knight (1849-1935) was the cousin of my great-grandfather “Curly Bill” from the Old Peterson Road story. Both Archie and Curly Bill were grandsons of The Old Soldier, Thomas Knight (1790-1879).
Even though Archie isn’t in my direct family line, I started to research him because he lived here in my own neighbourhood. A lot of his friends and colleagues are mentioned in the books and articles that I use in my job at the library. This sequence 52 Queen’s Crescent will include 51 short episodes about Archie and his family. See if you agree with me that they add up to quite a story!