The Last Word

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Phyllis Knight around 1925

Phyllis Knight and Jean Royce continued to live in the small house at 140 Stuart Street until Jean’s death in 1982. Phyllis moved to a nursing home and died there eighteen months later. She was 94 years old.


Today, a popular Queen’s mascot stands in the medical library on campus. It’s a small bronze ape in a pose similar to that of Rodin’s The Thinker.

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Photo of “Hugo” by Jo Stanbridge

The ape’s name is “Hugo,” and he originally belonged to Archie Knight. Phyllis gave him to the library around the time the Knight family home was demolished. The theme of the statue is Darwin’s Origin of Species. Archie recalled reading that book in his early days as a theology student at Queen’s, and arguing passionately with his roommate:

“when that subject was broached there could be nothing expected but bad temper and red hot discussion. The conclusions…upset all our previous religious training and left us almost hopelessly stranded. I should never like to pass through those days a second time.” [1]

Archie’s roommate, Malcolm MacGillivray, went on to become a prominent clergyman in Kingston, and moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

Archie gave up his theological studies and became a professor of professor of animal biology and physiology. He boldly argued in favour of Darwin’s work, and wrote an essay that was “the first full-blown exposition of doctrinaire Darwinian evolution in the Queen’s records.” [2]

On the main floor of Bracken Library, just down the street from the spot where the Knight family home stood, Hugo is now bolted to his pedestal. (Library staff discovered that he had been spending too many nights out on the town with students.)  He still dresses up for various holidays, and his head is shiny from being “rubbed for luck.” Thanks to Phyllis Knight, he stands both as a reminder of big ideas that shaped the university, and of the wit, intelligence and generosity that were her father’s legacy.


Many thanks to Queen’s University librarian Elizabeth MacDonald-Pratt for drawing my attention to the “Hugo” statue and generously sharing her research about him.

Learn more:

“Hugo Rheinhold and his Philosophizing Monkey,” by Axel Schmetzke [webpage] University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point website (https://library.uwsp.edu/aschmetz/Rheinhold’s_Monkey/Rheinhold’s_Monkey_Page.htm : accessed 20 February 2017).

“Hugo Rheinhold” [wiki article, 21 October 2016] Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Rheinhold : accessed 20 February 2017).


[1] Excerpt from 1933-09-02 Autobiography of Archibald Patterson KNIGHT b1849. Typescript by his son Cyril Workman Knight. Original typescript in the possession of Mary Elizabeth KNIGHT Clark, Cobourg, Ontario. Scanned by John Carew in June 2014. Copy in possession of Jo Stanbridge, Kingston, 2016.
[2] “A Gladiatorial Professor”, by B.N. Smallwood, H.M. Good and A.S. West, Kingston Whig-Standard, magazine section, Saturday 25 January 1992; excerpt from the book Queen’s Biology: An Academic History of Innocence Lost at Fame Gained, 1858-1965. Kingston : Queen’s University Press, 1992.

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This is the last entry in the Storydello series 52 Queen’s Crescent, about the Knight family in Kingston, Ontario. Thank you so much for following along!  Next up: Rogues and Royals, a 16-generation trip back through my Dad’s line of descent. Please stay tuned!

Time Marches On

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Stirling Hall now stands where Archie and Corrie raised their family. They watched Queen’s University grow up around them, and played a vital role in the university community–they lived, studied and worked on campus.

Archie held positions in the biology department, the medical faculty, and the school of mining. He helped to design and equip the “New Medical Building” that opened in 1907. Ironically, it is now the home of Queen’s University Archives.

When Phyllis’s house was torn down, she saved and organized Archie’s papers and donated them to the archives. His letters and notebooks are now preserved in the building he helped to design. These blog entries could not have been written without them.

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Phyllis’s Fight

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A controversy erupted at Queen’s University in 1961, twenty-six years after the death of Archibald Patterson Knight.

As a scientist, Professor Emeritus, and former member of the university’s Board of Trustees, AP might have been in favour of the plan for a new physics building on the Queen’s University campus. But the Board had chosen a site that would destroy the last large green space on campus. Students and faculty protested, demonstrations were held, and the Board was forced to change its decision.

An alternative site was chosen on Queen’s Crescent, where most of the property owners had agreed to sell. Just one person held out. It was Archie and Cordelia’s daughter, Phyllis Knight, who had lived at 52 Queen’s Crescent for nearly 70 years.

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Another Tragedy

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March 26, 1934. Four years after her mother Mona’s death, Barbara Wood was coming home from a movie with her boyfriend. He rounded a curve too fast, and the car flipped over. Passers-by were able to rescue him, but Barbara was not so lucky. She died at the scene of the accident. She was just 19 years old.

It’s hard to imagine the effect of this tragedy on her relatives in Kingston. Her grandfather Archie died the following year, and his wife Corrie four months later. It was the end of a very painful period in the Knight family story.

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Mona’s Daughter

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Mona’s daughter was full of life and laughter. A year after her mother’s death, she wrote a chatty letter to her grandfather Archie:

“My friend is having a house party. There are going to be nine girls…. We will take turns cooking. I’m afraid I’m not much of a cook but I can manage breakfast all right… Please congratulate Aunt Phyllis for me, she must be a very good golf player…”

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Little Freddie Knight

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Corrie and Archie’s son Freddie was about 5 years old when his grandmother dropped in to a Kingston department store and wrote this postcard to his mother. She was babysitting the children while Corrie and Archie were away.

“Dear Corrie — the children are quite well and happy. Freddie and I have just finished our marketing and are now on our way home. I am writing this at Stacy’s. I hope you will enjoy your trip…”

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Corrie’s Legacy

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Corrie and Archie lived in the house on Queen’s Crescent for the rest of their lives, and died there within a year of each other: Archie in 1935 and Corrie in 1936. They are buried together in Cataraqui Cemetery.

For more than 40 years in the beautiful brick house, story after story unfolded. Corrie experienced everything from incredible joy to heart-wrenching tragedy as she watched her children grow up. You can read about their adventures in future episodes of Storydello. Please stay tuned!

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