The Knight family photo

Knight Family Photograph ca. 1911. TBHMS

Gertrude Cornish Knight

  • Date of birth: January 11, 1877 in Walkerville Essex County, Ontario
  • Date of death: January 11, 1933 in Windsor, ON. Buried in Riverside Cemetery
  • Accomplishments related to: Temperance Movement, War Effort, Patriotism, Media
  • Major affiliations: Port Arthur Daily News, Trinity Methodist Church, Women's Christian, Temperance Union, Canadian Women's Press Club

Gertrude was born in southwestern Ontario to John Cornish and Louise Overton. The Cornish Family moved to Winnipeg where Gertrude was raised. A story published in the Port Arthur Daily News tells of her upbringing and influences that established her beliefs about motherhood, patriotism and temperance. In April of 1898, Gertrude married Frederick Thomas Knight, a railway machinist who was transferred to Port Arthur in 1908 as foreman for the CNR. The Knights had three children: Gordon (1899), Orval (1900), and Ardath May (1902). Orville Knight was a former councillor in Port Arthur from 1935 to 1936.

She was an active member of Trinity Methodist Church where she was a Sunday School teacher and leader of the Sunshine Mission Band. She was active in the Women's Temperance Union and became president. As a journalist she contributed poems and features on parenting to the Port Arthur Daily News, eventually taking over the daily Women Readers Page as Miss Helper and wrote a Sunday Boys and Girls column. As a member of the Canadian Women's Press Club, in the early 20th century she was Port Arthur Daily News women's page editor.

Gertrude wrote poetry that reflected the late Victorian values with sentimental and moral themes. Considered an evangelical feminist, her writing supported the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the Methodist Church. Noted also for her patriotism, Gertrude also wrote of imperialism and Canadian Nationalism. She wrote stage productions involving children and their parents that raised money for charity and war relief. "The Courtship of Miss Canada", her first and most successful production, achieved national exposure.

During World War One, Gertrude composed songs and produced stage productions including the successful "War Time in Song and Story", a traditional patriotic pageant for children. She raised about $10,000 for patriotic causes through her poems, plays and songs during the war.

Suggested by David Nicholson

Reference: Thunder Bay Museum's Papers & Records XXIV from 1996 Wartime in Song and Story by F. Brent Scollie.

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