Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Alphadello: W is for Waxwing

During the hard snow storm of Feb. 10, 1899, a flock of about 50 Cedar Waxwings were seen in a mountain ash tree, feeding on the berries.

The text is from "The Bohemian Waxwing in Onondaga County, N.Y.," by A.W. Perrior (1900). Click here to read the article online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted yesterday in ABC of Birds on Alphadello.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Alphadello: V is for Vulture

A pet vulture is, I think somewhat off the beaten track of aviculture. The normal appearance of the animal is not attractive; his habits are distinctly repellent...[but] his quiet unobtrusiveness developed in me an affection which I did not think I should have ever possessed for him.

Source: "My Pet Vulture," by G.E. Low (1917). Click here to read the article online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted two days ago in the ABC of Birds, on Alphadello.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Alphadello: U is for Umbrella Bird

The decorations of the Umbrella-bird are as beautiful as they are bizarre...a high, arching mass of feathers, overshadowing the entire head and beak, continually spreading and partly closing again, as the bird's emotions change.

The Bird, Its Form and Function, by C. William Beebe (1906). Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted in 2 days ago in my ABC of Birds on Alphadello.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Storydello: Mona's Legacy

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.

We don't know much about Mona and Herbert's son Archie, who was living New Westminster, BC at the time of his father's death. We know more about their younger son, Phil.

During the Second World War, 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.

This concludes the story about Mona and her family. Coming up--our final chapter--about Archie and Corrie's youngest child, Phyllis. She outlived the rest of the family by nearly two decades and saved their photos, letters and documents for posterity. Without Phyllis, this Storydello series would not exist!
Posted yesterday on Storydello.

: Photo of Mona Natalie Knight, circa 1925, courtesy of Mary Elizabeth Clark, Cobourg, Ontario, 8 August 2014.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Storydello: Another Tragedy

March 26, 1934. Four years after Mona's death, her daughter Barbara was driving home from a movie with a boyfriend. The young man rounded a curve too fast, and the car flipped over. Passers-by were able to rescue him, but Barbara 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.

Posted today on Storydello.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Alphadello: T is for Turkey

Good cover for turkeys includes trees 6 or more inches in diameter and at least 30 feet high. The birds roost in trees--usually in the largest ones--and frequently in trees in swamps.

The text is from the book Wild Turkeys on Southeastern Farms and Woodlands, by Dale H. Arner and Verne E. Davison.

Posted yesterday in my ABC of Birds, on Alphadello.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Storydello: Mona's Daughter

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..."

Posted today on Storydello

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Storydello: The Accident

Three years after Mona's singing performance for the Governor-General, tragedy struck. On a Saturday night during the Christmas holidays, she was driving home when her car hit a patch of ice. It spun around and crashed into a taxi. Mona was thrown against the steering wheel and died from her injuries.

Left behind were her husband Herbert and three children: Archie (17), Barbara (15) and Philip (9).

Posted today on Storydello.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Alphadello: S is for Swan

What graceful bird is this? It is a SWAN. See, how she bends her long neck and spreads out her great wings to catch the breeze. Swans pass almost all their time swimming in the water.

The text is from the book Stories about Birds, For Little Folks : Twenty-three Engravings, (Franklin Toys) [after 1855]. Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted today in the ABC of Birds on my blog Alphadello.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Storydello: Mona and the Governor-General

In 1927, Mona gave a singing performance for the Governor-General (Viscount Willingdon) and his wife during their visit to Vancouver.

Posted today on Storydello.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Storydello: Mona's Children

By 1921, Mona and her husband were running a busy household in Vancouver--with three children, a French nurse, and a Chinese cook named Wing.

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Alphadello: R is for Robin

Birds enjoy the spray from a sprinkler or even from a hose...Further, a trickle of water in the right place may create the mud that is needed by robins and swallows in building their nests.

Attracting and Feeding Birds, Conservation Bulletin No. 1, Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior (1972). Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted today on Alphadello.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Storydello: Mona's Music

The newlyweds went to live in Vancouver, where Mona's new husband ran a successful law practice. Mona, who was a talented and successful singer, continued to study and perform. She was soon known as "one of Vancouver's outstanding vocalists."

Posted today on Storydello.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Storydello: Mona's Wedding

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.

Posted today on Storydello.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Alphadello: Q is for Quail

The quail is prone to rustle for a living, picking up a bit of grain here, an insect there, spiced with a bit of vegetation to flavor, and now and then a few grains of sand or fine gravel to grind the mixture.

Quailology: The Domestication, Propagation, Care & Treatment of Wild Quail in Confinement, by Harry Wallas Kerr (1903). Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

posted yesterday on Alphadello

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Storydello: Memorial to Cyril

After Cyril's death in 1960 at the age of 81, the Royal Society of Canada printed a memorial about him. It was jam-packed with notes about his accomplishments. He'd been the author or co-author of 44 papers, member of no less than 10 associations or societies, one of the founders of the Geological Society of Canada, and the recipient of a Coronation Medal, by command of Her Majesty the Queen, in recognition of his services to the geological profession. But, like his father Archie, Cyril preferred to keep a low profile. He was a down-to-earth person, who enjoyed a joke on himself.

He told a funny story about a visit to Haliburton, where he'd gone for a summer holiday. Noticing a labourer at the side of the road, digging a trench, Cyril stopped the car and asked "Any work going on at Fission Mines?"

To his delight, the workman replied, "Nope. Just a couple of geologists friggin' around."

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Image: Photo of Cyril Workman Knight, circa 1923, [detail] courtesy of Mary Elizabeth Clark, Cobourg, Ontario, 8 August 2014, scanned by John Carew.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Storydello: Cyril and Grace

By late 1905, sixteen mines had sprung up near Cobalt, Ontario--but by that time, Cyril was off to new adventures. First, he finished postgraduate studies at Columbia University in New York City. Then he began a career in the field of mining. He served as Associate Provincial Geologist for the province of Ontario, and then as chief geologist and president for a couple of mining companies, before starting his own: the Cyril Knight Prospecting Company.

Along the way, he married an extraordinary woman named Grace Hewson. She was one of the first female law students in Canada, called to the bar in 1908. She and Cyril raised three sons and travelled the world together. They even flew to Egypt at a time when international flights were still a new and dangerous adventure.

Ironically, when two mining companies were racing to stake a claim in the far north, at Rankin Inlet, Cyril decided to use canoes instead of those new-fangled airplanes--and his company won!

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Alphadello: P is for Penguin

This afternoon I saw two...engaged in a very fierce fight...After a couple of minutes, during which each had the other down on the ground several times, three or four other penguins ran up and apparently tried to stop the fight.

The text is from the book Antarctic Penguins: A Study of their Social Habits, by Dr. G. Murray Levick (1914). Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted yesterday on Alphadello.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Storydello: Cyril in Cobalt

In May 1904, Cyril went back to the site of the silver strike, again as Professor Miller's assistant. One day, an excited acquaintance burst into their camp and begged them to come right away and witness a discovery.

Professor Miller played it cool. Cyril remembered, "Whatever excitement he may have felt he kept well under control."

The next morning, they all went together and found two spectacular veins that would eventually yield more than 40 million ounces of silver. The excited acquaintance was soon shipping out "great slabs of native metal stripped off the walls...like boards from a barn."

And that wasn't all. One day, while canoeing in the area, Professor Miller found a rich deposit of cobalt along the shore of a lake.

Years later, Cyril said "I still have a vivid mental picture of his tall, erect figure as...he nailed a board to a post. On the board he had written the word Cobalt. And that was how the the town got its name."

Cobalt, Ontario, became the centre of a huge silver rush. At its peak in 1911, more than 31 million ounces of silver were shipped from the area. The mining rights to Professor Miller's cobalt alone were sold for more than a million dollars.

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Storydello: Cyril and the Silver Strike

When Cyril and the others reached the site, they found silver everywhere. Plenty had been dug up along the newly-built railroad, and Professor Miller reported that "every depression in the rock on top of the hill contains much free silver."

Pieces of silver "as big as stove lids or cannonballs" were lying on the ground, but the rocks were so dirty-looking that the railroad workers had been walking past them without a second glance.

Winter soon set in, but news of the silver strike was already spreading. Everyone knew what would happen in the spring. And Cyril was going to be right in the middle of the excitement.

Posted today on Storydello.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Alphadello: O is for Oriole

One night in Guerrero I joined a group of men and boys who, with slingshots and pine torches, were hunting songbirds on their roosts. They killed orioles, towhees, sparrows, and a few doves, all of which were later prepared for the kitchen.

The text is from Wildlife of Mexico : The Game Birds and Mammals, by A. Starker Leopold (1959). Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted yesterday on Alphadello.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Storydello: Cyril's Rocks

In the backwoods of Ontario, a blacksmith named Fred LaRose was working on the new railroad when his pickaxe struck a rock. It broke off "a piece as big as my hand, with little sharp points all over it." The rock had a shiny vein running through its middle. He showed it to the owner of a nearby hotel.

"Some kind of damn metal," they decided, and sent it away to be tested.

Cyril's professor, W.G. Miller, received the sample, and a lab report confirmed his suspicions. The rock contained silver. Lots of it. The race was on!

It was already October, and a Canadian winter would soon set in, making travel impossible. Professor Miller rushed to the site along with two assistants. One of them was Cyril Knight.

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Storydello: Cyril at Home

Soon after Freddie went to live at the asylum, and while his sister Muriel was living in the U.S. with the first of her many husbands, Cyril Knight was still living at home with his two younger sisters and their parents. The whole family was busy with music lessons, sports and studying, and their father's schedule was crammed with teaching, writing, committee-work, travel and science experiments.

"I have oiled the thing on the roof," Cyril wrote to him, "but you didn't tell me how to make out the report."

Cyril was a third-year geology student. He was also the captain of the Queen's University hockey team, which had recently won the American intercollegiate championship. But in August 1903, just as the team was looking ahead to an exciting new season, something extraordinary happened to Cyril.

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Alphadello: N is for Nest

A bird's nest is the most graphic mirror of a bird's mind. It is the most palpable example of those reasoning, thinking qualities with which these creatures are unquestionably very highly endowed.

Birds' Nests: An Introduction to the Science of Caliology, by Charles Dixon (1902). Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted today on Alphadello.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Storydello: Muriel Undaunted

Fishing may-or-may-not have been Muriel's favourite hobby, but she certainly excelled at catching husbands. She married once more, sometime after 1941, and was widowed again late in her own life.

On August 6, 1959, Muriel died in Queen's, New York. Her body was returned to Kingston, and she was buried in Cataraqui Cemetery near her parents and daughter.

Not long before her death, she had filled out a Social Security claim form in the U.S. As brash as ever, Muriel recorded her birth date as 1895. With a stroke of the pen, she declared herself to be fifteen years younger than she really was.

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Coming up next on Storydello: the equally-amazing (but very different) adventures of Muriel's younger brother Cyril.  Please stay tuned....

IMAGE: Detail of Muriel Knight Spencer Stadler, from photo "A.J. Cornelis [i.e., Cornelius], Mrs. Emil Auerbach, Mrs. A. Lincoln Stadler, E. Auerbach," Bain Collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2005019621/ : accessed 10 November 2013).

Friday, August 5, 2016

Storydello: Muriel Tries Again

 Within the space of three years, Muriel had lost both of her parents and her husband. But she never seemed to give up. In 1940, just two years after Lincoln's death, she married again. Her new husband was a famous clothing designer with outlets in New York, London and Paris.
It didn't last long. Soon the newspaper reported, "Nine months of married life with 80-year-old Amos Sulka was enough for Muriel Knight Stadler Sulka... She won a divorce at Reno, Nevada on grounds of cruelty late yesterday and was home for lunch today. She flew East on a United Airlines sleeper after a whirlwind trip to the city of broken romances."

She told the reporter she would travel to Canada in a few days to do some fishing..."my favourite hobby."
Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Alphadello: M is for Magpie

For the magpie, with exquisite skill,
Has invented a moss-covered cell,
Within which a whole family will
In the utmost security dwell.

From: "The Magpie's Nest: A Fable," in The Child's Bijou, by J.H.B. (1861).

Posted today on Alphadello.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Storydello: Muriel's Rise and Fall

Muriel and her husband joined the rich and famous in places like Bermuda, France, Lake George and Palm Beach.

In 1925 they visited Kingston to attend her daughter's wedding, but they were soon off again. Six months before the stock market crash of 1929, they were in Florida at the Whoopee Ball, "the Big Event of the Week," kicked off by a dinner hosted by Mrs. William Randolph Hearst.

Unlike many, Muriel and Lincoln seem to have weathered the Great Depression reasonably well, and in September 1936 they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary.

But two years later, on the beach at the Forest Hills Surf Club at Atlantic Beach, Muriel's husband had a heart attack. He died before medical help could reach him.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Storydello: Muriel Lives the High Life

Muriel's new husband was A. Lincoln Stadler. He was the president of the Merchant Tailors Association in New York--the man who announced the new fashion trends in the newspaper each year. He and Muriel lived a life of glamour and travel.

In 1915, just three years after her first hotel had failed, Muriel opened another: the Monmouth Beach Inn on the Jersey Shore. That summer, there were parties around the pool, dances, water sports and contests.

"Prizes and trophies were presented by Mrs. Muriel Spencer Stadler to the winners."

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Storydello: Muriel and the Hollywood Hotel

In 1906 there were thirteen divorces in Canada. Muriel's was one of them. But it would take more than a little social stigma to hold back this determined young woman.

After her divorce, she bought a resort in New Jersey called the Hollywood Hotel. There were already two mortgages on the property. Muriel took out six more and re-married (a rich husband, this time!)  She borrowed money from him to keep the hotel going.

It didn't work. Within a year, she was declaring bankruptcy. But even that didn't slow her down for long. Muriel was irrepressible.

Posted today on Storydello.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Storydello: Muriel's Respectable Marriage

It certainly looked respectable. In 1900, around the time her brother Freddie was admitted to the asylum and her younger siblings were still living at home with their parents, Muriel married the son of a prominent Kingston clergyman.

Six years later, they were divorced. "I only wish to God he was dead," Muriel wrote to her mother, "with his lying drinking ways...Love to all, and just longing to see you tomorrow."

Muriel would stop at home long enough to drop off her 2-year old daughter. Her parents would raise the child themselves.

Meanwhile, Muriel had her sights set on New York City. "If you would just lend me that little fur," she begged her mother, "and lend me grandma's muff, till I come back. I hate to go down without any furs."

Posted today on Storydello.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Alphadello: L is for Loon

Why, the Loon is the most astonishing and remarkable and astounding and wonderful and amazing diver you ever heard of!

Swimming Birds, by Norman Allison Calkins and Abby Morton Diaz (1878). Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted today on Alphadello.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Storydello: Freddie-The End of the Story

After the Huronia Regional Centre closed in 2009, lawsuits were brought against it for decades of neglect and abuse of residents. Eventually, the provincial government issued a formal apology and paid a $35 million dollar settlement.

For Freddie, this was too little, too late. He died in 1967, when the abuses at the Centre were known but not yet widely publicized. Freddie lived to be 91 years old, and spent more than 65 years in the institution. He is buried at Cataraqui Cemetery in Kingston, near his parents Archie and Corrie Knight.


Coming up next on Storydello: the adventures of Freddie's irrepressible sister Muriel. Please stay tuned!

Posted today on Storydello.

Storydello: Freddie's New Life

By the time Freddie arrived at the Orillia Asylum, it was already overcrowded and underfunded. Worse, it had begun to shift its focus from education and training to "custodial care"--which meant patients were mainly segregated from the general population, institutionalized for life. Over the years, it changed its name to the Ontario Hospital School, and still later to the Huronia Regional Centre.

During Freddie's time there, the number of residents increased from about 650 to more than 2,500. Run by the provincial government, but low on its list of priorities and unpopular with tax-payers, the hospital was chronically understaffed, neglected, and under-supervised. The results were tragically predictable. And Freddie lived there for more than six decades.

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Storydello: Invisible Freddie

After Freddie was admitted to the asylum, he disappeared from almost all the family records. It wasn't that they'd forgotten him. His father's will provided "annually to the Ontario Hospital at Orillia the sum of Seventy Eight dollars for the maintenance of my son Frederick A. Knight." But Freddie's name wasn't even mentioned in the obituaries of his parents or grandmother. As shocking as this seems in our time, in those days it was common for families to hide the fact that a child had been institutionalized.

Ironically, Freddie's great-uncle Joseph Workman had been the superintendent of the Toronto asylum, and was world-famous for his humane treatment of patients, providing good food, minimal medication, lots of alcoholic drinks (!) and staff who practiced "unvarying kindness, never-tiring forbearance, and undeviating truthfulness."

Later, the Orillia Asylum became known for exactly the opposite treatment of patients, and much worse. But that's where Freddie was sent.

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Storydello: Freddie at the Orillia Asylum

Freddie was born with some sort of intellectual or developmental disability. We don't yet have access to the records that will give more details about his condition, but he seems to have lived at home with his parents and siblings until about 1899. Then his father sent a letter of application to admit him to the Orillia Asylum, and soon afterward, Fred went to live at that institution.

Thirty-four years later, he was still there.

Posted 2 days ago on Storydello.

Storydello: Little Freddie Knight

Corrie and Archie's son Freddie was about five 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..."

Posted 3 days ago on Storydello

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Alphadello: K is for Killdeer

A killdeer plays "hurt bird" to lure an enemy away from its nest. It limps along, dragging its wings and screaming loudly.

From The First Book of Birds, by Margaret Williamson (1951). Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted two days ago on Alphadello.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Alphadello: J is for Jay

While a friend and I were seated near a window, dining, we heard a song unlike that of any of the common birds with which we were familiar; it was not loud nor ringing, nor at all like whistling, but the notes were formed into a sweet and somewhat complex bird melody...it required from us only a lifting of the eyes to discover the singer, a Blue Jay, perching outside of the window on the lowest branch of a pine tree.

"The Song of the Blue Jay," by Isabel Goodhue (1919). Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted yesterday on Alphadello.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Alphadello: I is for Ibis

Fiddler crabs...abound on the island and are a popular food source.... Large male fiddler crabs may grab the ibises' bill. When this occurs the bird gives several billshakes until the crab relinquishes his hold.

Reproductive Behavior and Ecology of the White Ibis, [dissertation] by Thomas James Rudegeair (1975). Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted today on Alphadello.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Alphadello: H is for Hummingbird

When the Hummingbird says "Go!" other birds...go at once; while the little warrior sometimes accelerates their flight, for his sharp beak is a weapon not to be despised.

The text is from Useful Birds and their Protection, by Edward Howe Forbush (1907). Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted yesterday on Alphadello.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Storydello: Corrie's Legacy

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 in Kingston, Ontario.

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

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Storydello: Corrie's Children

Corrie's eldest son, Freddie, had some sort of intellectual or developmental disability. We don't know the specifics, since the records aren't yet open to the public, but when he was about 23 years old, his parents admitted him to the Orillia Asylum. He spent the rest of his life there. Upcoming Storydello entries will tell more of Freddie's story.

Meanwhile, Corrie's other children were growing up and making their way in the world. Then, suddenly--in 1902, when the nest was almost empty--Corrie found herself with a new toddler to raise.

Phyllis Spencer was Corrie and Archie's first grandchild. While the baby's flamboyant mother was travelling the world and marrying one rich husband after another, little Phyllis grew up quietly in the house on Queen's Crescent, much-loved by her grandparents and unmarried aunt.

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Alphadello: G is for Gull

David Townsend advised: "Never taunt crows...greet these birds with a respectful, 'Good day, brother crow'...Gulls and pigeons, on the other hand, are really just flying rats, so you can pretty much say whatever you like."

"Souls of Lost Scoutmasters," Corvi Chronicle (2007). Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted today on Alphadello.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Storydello: Corrie and the New House

With its back toward Lake Ontario, the new house faced the lush green trees and lawns of the university campus, a short walk from the medical buildings and laboratory where Archie worked and taught.

He travelled often, studying or doing research overseas. Meanwhile, Corrie had her hands full at home, with five sons and daughters: Freddie (15), Muriel (14), Cyril (12), Mona (8) and Phyllis (2).

Even with help from a couple of domestic servants and from her mother, Corrie must have felt overwhelmed at times. And things were about to get very rough indeed.

Posted 2 days ago on Storydello.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Storydello: Corrie Moves to Kingston

No sooner had Archie and Corrie settled down and set up their house together in Hawkesbury than a new offer came along. Archie was hired as the headmaster of a school in Kingston. Off he went to find a house there, and to oversee repairs to the school after a recent fire. Corrie stayed with her sister near Hawkesbury, and gave birth to her first child--a boy named Freddie.

When she and the baby were well enough to travel, they joined Archie in their new home in Kingston. The limestone house at 203 William Street belonged to Queen's University and was home to Archie and Corrie for about fifteen years.

Four more children were born there, as Archie continued to rise from headmaster to university lecturer, medical student, doctor, and rector of the Women's Medical College. His promotion to a professorship at Queen's in 1891 came none too soon. With five growing children, two servants, and a soon-to-be live-in mother-in-law, the little house must have been bursting at the seams. It was time to move.

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Alphadello: F is for Flamingo

"Flying round the edge of this soda flat we saw large numbers of downy young Lesser Flamingoes... This string extended for possibly two miles, with groups of youngsters along its length, and with isolated herds of young birds walking across the soda by themselves--an amazing sight."

"The Breeding of Lesser and Greater Flamingoes in East Africa," by L. Brown (1955). Click here to read the book online, or download it free, from the Internet Archive.

Posted yesterday on Alphadello.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Storydello: Corrie and Archie Get Married

Cordelia's rich and influential family probably thought she was marrying beneath her. She had already turned down at least two other suitors, including John Maule Machar (a law partner of Canada's first prime minister) and a mystery man named William whose goodbye letter ended dramatically:

"....if it is your duty, Corrie, to marry this man then it is my duty - doubly tried, in all love, to relieve you from the cause of your misery, my presence, and it is for that purpose I am going away....Farewell, farewell, farewell, my love, my love farewell." (1)

Instead, Corrie married Archie Knight, whose work experience included time on the family farm and in lumber camps and rural schoolhouses. She married him on July 28th, 1875 in St. Martin's Anglican Church in Montreal and promptly reacted as any sensible woman might: she panicked.

Soon after the wedding, Archie returned to Hawkesbury to get his new school organized and to prepare a house for his bride. Corrie was supposed to join him there, but as the days stretched into weeks and she didn't come, frantic letters began to fly back and forth. Then she fell silent. Archie wrote a desperate letter to his new mother-in-law:

"What have I done, or neglected to do or say?. . .If I am to be the curse of her and consequently of your existence the least thing I can do is to make it as light as possible. Heaven forgive me if I sometimes think there is still one remedy for all this agony I am unwillingly causing those whom I love best on earth. I thought I would go mad to-night as I thought and paced along the deserted streets." (2)

Did Corrie's mother intervene? Was there a showdown, or did Corrie just come to terms with the situation on her own? We don't know. But the tension finally broke. Corrie joined Archie in Hawkesbury, and soon they were genuinely happy there.

Years later, Archie said he hated to remember "those dark days of 1875" but he always loved a song that Corrie sang to him one evening on the sofa. He called it Sleep On, but it may have been this one: Lorena.

Posted today on Storydello.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Storydello: Corrie in Montreal

Twenty-five-year-old Corrie was still living with her widowed mother and brother on Cadieux Street in Montreal. Her father had died about five years earlier, but Corrie's grandmother--who had raised all those accomplished Workman uncles and their sister--continued to live next door for many years. She lived to be 102 years old. You can see a photo of her, here.

Posted yesterday on Storydello.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Storydello: Corrie's Sister Gets Married

In 1868, Cordelia's sister got married. Her new brother-in-law was Eden Abbott Johnson, an attorney who had commanded the guard of honour at the opening of Canada's first parliament the year before. The newlyweds went to live in L'Orignal, halfway between Ottawa and Montreal, and Cordelia was a frequent visitor there. "Abbott" was involved in starting a school, and in hiring its new headmaster: a bright and handsome young teacher named A.P. Knight.

Posted yesterday on Storydello.