Phyllis Relents

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In 1961, when Phyllis said “no” to the property developer, the university principal stepped in. He negotiated the deal himself. He invited Phyllis for tea, and they discussed the matter quietly. Faced with the inevitable, Phyllis relented. Her home would be torn down.

Jean and Phyllis moved to a smaller house just two blocks away, at 140 Stuart Street. As in the old house, each had her own apartment, where they lived quite happily for fifteen more years.

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Phyllis’s House

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The house was two-and-a-half storeys tall, made of brick with wood floors, big closets, a dining room with a built-in china cabinet, and a fireplace. It was from this house that Phyllis’s siblings started their marriages and careers, and moved away. This was also the house where her niece (Muriel’s daughter) came in 1903 as a toddler, grew up and married, and emigrated to England. And it was in this house that both of Phyllis’s parents had grown old and died in 1935 and 1936.

Phyllis continued to live in the house for many years afterward, making her living as a music teacher, giving lessons and even holding recitals in the living room. To boost her income, she converted the second floor into apartments, and rented one of these to the famous university registrar, Jean Isobel Royce. The two women became fast friends.

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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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Mona’s Legacy

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Mona’s husband Herbert remarried and went on to a distinguished career as a Supreme Court Judge in Vancouver. He died in 1957 after a long illness. At that time, his son Archie was living New Westminster, BC.

During the Second World War, Mona’s youngest son Phil flew 39 missions over France and Germany and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war, he returned to Vancouver and became a broadcaster and sports writer there. He also became a world-class bridge player. He died in 2012, leaving a wife, two daughters and a son, two stepchildren and five grandchildren.

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This concludes the story about Mona and her family. Please stay tuned for the story of Archie and Corrie’s youngest child, Phyllis, who outlived the rest of the family by nearly two decades.
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Image: Photo of Mona Natalie Knight, circa 1925, courtesy of Mary Elizabeth Clark, Cobourg, Ontario, 8 August 2014.

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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Mona’s Wedding

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December 27th, 1911. When Cyril’s sister Mona married an up-and-coming lawyer named Herbert Wood, two ministers conducted the service. Both were long-time friends of the Knight family. One was Rev. Malcolm MacGillvray and the other was Rev. Donald Gordon, principal of Queen’s University.

The wedding took place at Christmas time. Swarms of friends and family descended on Kingston to celebrate the event.  During the ceremony, chimes pealed from the tower of Chalmers Church.

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