Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthFebruary 6, 1884
Place of BirthPortsmouth, Hampshire
Marital StatusMarried
Next of Kinwife Mary, Box 118, Keewatin, Ontario
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental NumberVR-6416
Service Recordsee images below
BattalionEarl Grey, Diana, Stadacona, Seagull, Niobe
BranchRoyal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 12, 1914
Age at Enlistment30
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 30, 1950
Age at Death66
Buried AtLachine, Quebec

Knight, John Morris

John Morris Knight was born on 26 February 1884 in Landport, Portsea Island, Hampshire England. Landport is a district located near the centre of Portsea Island and is part of the city of Portsmouth. His mother Mary Jane Lonnon, also from Landport, had married Alfred William Knight in 1867, marriage registered in the district of Portsea Island. From Portsea Island, Alfred was a master coach painter and together the couple had three, possibly four children, Alfred August, Ellen Jane (1870-1872), Harry Christopher, and Ada Annie who was born in 1876, after Alfred’s death during the last quarter of 1875. After the death of Alfred, Mary Jane supported the family by doing laundry and working a mangler. Over the years she gave birth to a number of children, all using the surname of Knight: Frederick Morris, Margaret, John Morris, Mabel Elizabeth, Charles Morris, and Grace. According to Charles’ marriage record his father was Frederick Morris.

By the time of the 1901 census John was working as a spirit cellar worker and in 1911 as a builder/labourer. Along with his brother Charles and sister Margaret, John immigrated to Canada shortly after the census was taken, arriving in Quebec aboard the Royal Edward on 10 May. According to the passenger list, John, labourer, Charles, painter, and Margaret, cook, were on their way to Keewatin in northwestern Ontario near Kenora. In time for the 1911 Canada census, John and Charles were listed as lodging with the Fred Parfitt family on Superior Street in Keewatin with both working at the Lake of the Woods Milling Company, John as a packer and Charles as a labourer.

John signed up with the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve on 14 September 1914 in Halifax. His occupation was given as labourer and his wife Mary back in Keewatin as next of kin. (A marriage record was not found). John served for the duration of the war as Chief Cook on a number of ships. His character was consistently rated as very good and he was awarded two Good Conduct Badges, 1 October 1916 and 1 November 1918.

Earl Grey: 12 September 1914-31 December 1914 The Earl Grey was an icebreaker freight and passenger steamer that was sold to the Imperial Russian government in 1914.
Diana: 1 January 1915-5 September 1915 Sail and seamanship training vessel
Niobe: 6 September 1915-31 December 1915 Depot ship in Halifax
Stadacona: 1 January 1916-31 August 1917 One of a number of American private yachts acquired by the RCN during the war, the Stadacona was largely engaged in patrol duties out of Halifax.
Lansdowne: 1 September 1917-10 September 1917 Patrol vessel
Stadacona: 11 September 1917-30 April 1918
Seagull: 1 May 1918-19 December 1918 The increased number of personnel required for the expanded patrol service led to a reorganization of the service’s shore establishments. Whereas all patrol personnel had previously been carried on the books of HMCS Stadacona, commencing on 1 May 1918, the sailors of patrol vessels based at Halifax and Sydney were given their own organizations. At Sydney, the drifter CD 74 was designated HMCS Seagull to represent the patrols depot afloat.
Niobe: 20 December 1918-28 December 1918

John was demobilized in Halifax on 28 December 1918. During the course of his service his next of kin was changed to his wife Louise of 105 Cottage Road, Sydney, Nova Scotia. Born in Nova Scotia in 1894, Louise was the daughter of John and Mary Ehler. She had married John Waterfield in 1913 in Halifax and the couple gave birth to son John Robert later that year.

It is not known if John returned to Keewatin after the war. The town held a demonstration in August of 1919, honouring all who served during the war with badges and medals. In an article in the Kenora Miner and News about it, John’s name was on the list. He is commemorated for his service on the Municipality of Keewatin For King and Country plaque and the Lake of the Woods Milling Company Roll of Honour, formerly housed in the Keewatin Branch of the Canadian Legion.

By the time of the 1921 census John, Louise, and two children listed as John Robert Knight, age 7 and Marie Knight, age 3, both born in Nova Scotia, were living in West Kildonan, Winnipeg where John was working as a shipper. He had joined the Rawleigh Company in Winnipeg, later transferring to Montreal in 1927 and retiring in 1950. After the death of Louise on 21 February 1937 in Lachine, Quebec, John married Maria Gardner in October of 1941 in Montreal. A spinster, Maria was the daughter of James and Marie (née Appleton) Garner.

While in Keewatin visiting his sister Margaret, John died on 30 April 1950 in the Kenora General Hospital. At the time of his death he was survived by son John of Montreal, brother Charles of Toronto, three sisters in England, sister Margaret McDowall of Keewatin, and three grandchildren. His remains were shipped to Montreal for service and interment at Lachine, likely in the Lakeview Cemetery with Louise. His sister Margaret died in 1965 and is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.

John’s sister Margaret had married Robert McDowall in 1912 in St Boniface, Manitoba although the couple lived in Keewatin. Robert served for two and a half years with the Canadian Forestry Corps in England during the war. John’s brother Charles went overseas with Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) in 1915, returning to Canada in May of 1919. He and his wife Dora later returned to England where he died in 1977.

John was awarded the 1914-1915 Bronze Star Medal in December of 1921 and the Victory and British War Medals in October of 1922.

by Judy Stockham

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