The Last Word

1925c-photo-of-phyllis-laura-knight-b1889-zoom

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.

photo-of-hugo-statue-bracken-library-01

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.

Sources


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!