About the Knight's
of Meaford

The Knight's of Meaford have long history in that Grey County community. Their business forged by early settlers employed many locals and supported the economy.

One of the pleasures of being a local historian is that everyone has a story and most everyone wants to share of piece of their family history. 

Consequently, I often receive valuable information from sources which I might not have thought of. One example of this occurred recently when I received a call from Ian Rice, a friend of mine from Elora. He had some information on his ancestors who settled in the Meaford area. Ian is a descendant of the Knight's of Meaford. 

In his family archives, he had found a wonderfully detailed family tree and a book, Knights, From Generation to Generation, which had been researched by Stanley Knight. 

While genealogical research is usually more specific to the interests of the immediate family, it often is a treasure trove for historians interested in finding out more about incidents and social customs of a specific region or period of time. Growing up in Owen Sound and while researching a book on the history of Georgian Bay, the Knight family name was synonymous with the town of Meaford. Therefore, I could not pass up the opportunity to explore the history of this family. 

The book about the Knight's of Meaford outlines not only the family tree of this Grey County pioneering family, but under careful scrutiny, details the pioneering and entrepreneurial drive which created the successful business enterprise which has passed from one generation to the next in the Meaford area.

The Knight brothers arrived in Canada in 1844 and at first worked in the Newmarket area. It was at Newmarket that Harris Knight met his wife Ann Luton. It was Harris and Ann who settled in the Woodford area and both are buried in the Knight cemetery located there. 

Their father, George Knight, Sr. was a cooper and a wine merchant in England and also became a civil engineer. It was in this profession that he “laid out the first sewage system in London, England, and a better road foundation.” 

As an active member of the church and many philanthropic projects, his reputation was such that he was asked to take a prominent role in a particularly sensitive issue in the British House of Commons. Three years after his son emigrated, George, his wife, and daughter Lucy made the trek across the Atlantic and all remained in North America for the rest of their lives. 

The recollections of Harris Knight contain wonderful descriptions of early life in this area. For example, a neighbour, like most pioneers, spent his early years as a settler in a one room dwelling. During the winter, his concern for the well-being of his animals caused him to move them into the house for the winter months. "One corner was sheep, another, calves and a third, I think, was pigs. The bed (without any bedstead) was in the remaining corner." 

Knight described how the finishing of their log house was delayed due to the necessity to bring in the hay and the ingenuity that was used to accommodate this delay. 

"When we first moved into the log house on the south side of the road, hay time was approaching, so we had no time to lay the floor in the regular way. When we did undertake it, we hung the cooking stove to the beams overhead with a logging chain and did the cooking on it in that way until the floor was laid.” 

I want to thank my friend Ian Rice for sharing with me his family history. It is from such collections that a clearer and often more interesting picture can be drawn about the life of our pioneer ancestors. 

The original version About the Knight's of Meaford first appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times.

More Grey County Pages

12-year-old Walks to Owen Sound in 1851 from the journal of a teenage boy's experience travelling with his brother in the untamed Upper Canadian wilderness.

1st Grey County Building in 1852 was only built after many hurdles were overcame.

Dr. Anna Henry  from Markdale, was a medical trailblazer for women doctors in Canada, who helped lay the groundwork for the establishment for Women's College Hospital.

Egremont Township endured the usual growing pains of a pioneer community, but its early history records times when it was embroiled in a few contentious issues. 

Euphrasia Township in the early years when spelling the name was a problem for those who called it home and those that wanted settle this new Grey County township.

Georgian Bay's 1st pioneer settler arrived on the western shoreline long before any other settler reached the area.

Grey County Heritage: A Valuable Resource which is rich and varied, as an important resource for future use for business, political, and many other purposes.

Grey County's Creation in 1852, laid the framework for organizing a county in the last wilderness in the southern region of what would become in the future the province of Ontario.

An Unlikely Hero From Grey County (Part 1) found his way from the farming community of Flesherton to missionary work in the Ottawa Valley, and beyond.

An Unlikely Hero Vs. The KKK (Part 2) Our hero from Grey County took his missionary zeal south of the border and ultimately crossed paths with the infamous KKK!

Barn Raising: A Pioneer Economic and Social Necessity as it provided settlers with an opportunity not only to build a barn, but also build a community.

"Barring Out": A Pioneer School Tradition was a custom which the settlers brought to the new world from England, or Scotland.

Ceylon Ontario: How it Got its Name: It is always interesting how a community got its name, but I doubt any place received its name from a more unique source!

Chatsworth Ontario: First Settlers took advantage of fulfilling the needs of pioneer travellers and built a thriving community in the Upper Canadian wilderness.

Clearing Trees a Daunting Task for Settlers as they worked to fulfill their obligations for their land grant.

Dornoch: or is it Smithville? Originally it was Smithville, then it became Dornoch. But, surprise it is still, in reality Smithville!

First Pioneer in Durham: Archibald Hunter established his family, and a hotel, in what would become the centre of the town of Durham.

Durham Ontario Influenced by the Saugeen River. This river provided a means to create new industries, but especially in the spring it can also pose a menace to the community.

Grey County Bylaws to the 1890s reveal a lot about the financing of local government, especially education in the early days of the region.

John Muir, the legendary naturalist, who promoted the idea of protected nature spaces, spent time in Ontario and I went to help find evidence of his stay in the Owen Sound area.

A Heroic Woman From Grey County who made great changes as a doctor in China in the 1890s and early 1900s.

Jesse James: In Grey County? An interesting question. Did the notorious gangster hide out in Proton Township? We will never know. But it is fun to speculate!

Kilsyth's Train Engine was one for the history books. It brought an evening of joy followed by disappointing news soon after.

The Knight's of Meaford have long history in that Grey County community. Their business forged by early settlers employed many locals and supported the economy.

Leith: Tom Thomson's Birthplace is part of the rich heritage of this community located on the east shore of the Georgian Bay north of Owen Sound.

The Leith Golf Course has provided many families with great memories. The history of this golf course starts, and ends, with the generosity of one family.

Agnes Macphail was a political trailblazer in a part of Ontario that one could hardly expect such radical action for the era in a rural region.

Markdale Ontario: The Beginning: originally known as Glenelg East, but the coming of the railway and the name of owner of the land for the station led to a change of identity.

Meaford's history is one of hardy and entrepreneurial pioneers carving their lives out of the wilderness of what would become Grey County.

Meaford Ontario, first called Peggy's Landing located on the shores of Georgian Bay has a rich history.

Meaford vs Purdytown. Conflict over the name of a new community was not unusual in early Grey County but electing a school trustee was the "hot button" issue in this rivalry.

Pioneer Clergyman: John Neelands was the first to minister to the first settlers' spiritual needs riding on horseback through the wilds of early Grey County.

Pioneer Doctor: Dr. James Smith, a local boy who became a doctor and served his community for his entire life was a testament to Grey County community spirit.

Pioneer Healthcare in Grey and Bruce counties was not administered by doctors, nurses, or pharmacists, no it was the responsibility of the women of the community.

Pioneer Homes in Grey County in the 1840s offered only basic amenities. Homes were basic because clearing the land to earn a living to survive were of paramount importance for those embarking on a new life.

Pioneer Ingenuity created many labour saving devices and methods and quite often helped to create a sense of community.

Pioneer Christmas: A Family Tradition as told to me by may grandparents who experienced Christmas as children in the 1880s and 1890s.

Pioneer Settlement Plans for Grey County began almost two decades before the rest of Grey County was available for settlement.

A pioneer road surveyor's impact on the local history of Grey and Bruce counties could have been dramatic, if it had not been changed by another surveyor.

Pioneer Teachers in Grey and Bruce Counties had a long and arduous task, not to mentions strict and confining job requirements for very little salary.

Plowing Match in Grey County in 1933 the first International Plowing Match held in Grey and Bruce counties and it's success led to more such events in Grey.

Settling Osprey Township: Parts of Osprey were considered too rugged to settle, but today they are prime real estate because of the great view!

Swamp College: Proton Township: this colourfully named institution of education in Grey County has provided many stories to the heritage of the region.

Sydenham Township's First Council undertook the often difficult task of creating a new municipal infrastructure.

The Impact of Snow is not what is Used to be! As snow removal equipment has improved the impact of snow on our lives has reduced significantly from previous eras.

Unique Characters: Nathaniel Herriman lived in Grey County and owned an inn to provide food and and accommodation to early travellers. Each day he performed a unique practice.

Unique Maps: Quilts Guided the Underground Railroad to enable runaway slaves to escape to Canada and freedom from the shackles that enslaved them.

The Women's Institute is a group of rural women that has made a difference to the quality of both urban and rural life in Grey County and across the country. 

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