Charles Richard Knight signature

Charles Richard Knight signed up in Deseronto on this day in 1916. He claimed to have been born in 1872, but was actually born on May 29th 1860, making him 55 years old on the day he joined up. He was born in Bethnal Green in London, England, the son of Thomas Edward Knight and Elizabeth (née Hodges). He married Elizabeth Mary Ann Bacon in Hackney on May 18th, 1891 and the couple were living at 40 Elm Road, Leyton, Essex in 1901 with their children, Charles, Elsie and William.

Knight family passenger list

Passenger list extract for the SS Kensington, arriving in Portland, Maine on April 10th, 1907, courtesy of Ancestry.ca

The family moved to Canada in 1907, travelling on the SS Kensington from Liverpool to Portland, Maine, with a final destination of Toronto. Their passage had been paid by the East End Emigration Fund. This organization aimed to resettle people at risk of unemployment in London by paying for families to move to Canada. A letter to the Spectator on March 14th, 1908 described the 1907 shipment of people in these terms:

The Joint Committee of the East End Emigration Fund and the Charity Organisation Society has for many years been selecting with great care, and placing in work in Canada, a large number of London families, sober, steady people, capable and willing for work, yet in danger of demoralisation if left hopelessly without work in London. The number sent in any year reached its maximum last season, when eight hundred and twenty-five families, comprising four thousand two hundred and sixty-eight persons, were emigrated. Only those who conducted the selection can adequately realise the conditions to which a very large number of these unfortunate people had been reduced owing to lack of employment in this country, and what the new opportunity meant to them.

In the 1911 census the family were living in Dundas Street, Deseronto. Charles was working as a labourer in a cement works (probably at Point Anne).

Charles joined the 155th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force with the regimental number 637066. He was five feet two and a half inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair with grey. His service record shows he was discharged on August 20th, 1916 for being overage: he displayed “very evident wasting of senility”.

In 1921 Charles was living in Thomas Street with Elizabeth and their children: Elsie and William. He died in Deseronto in September 1939 and was buried in Deseronto Cemetery in plot 303I.

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