Margaret Esther Knowles

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My grandmother, Margaret Esther Knowles died in a Toronto Hospital four months after the birth of her first great-grandchild, whom she never saw. It was almost thirty years later that I became curious about my family history and in 1996 purchased a computer and software to help record and store what I knew and gleaned from my parents. In March 1997 a chance discovery of my grandmother’s name in the online National Archives of Canada revealed she had emigrated to Canada under the auspices of Dr. Barnardo in 1910. This was a surprise to my father and his brother. Over the following year we received information from Barnardo’s that allowed me to begin piecing together the story of my paternal grandmother.

Margaret’s mother died of cancer in north Wales in 1899, leaving her husband to raise their four children. Margaret’s father died in 1903, leaving Nora 17, Robert 14, John 10 and Margaret 8. Barnardo records indicate Margaret was adopted by a maternal uncle and his wife, but by 1910 they sent her to the care of Barnardo’s in London. A few months later, in Liverpool, she was boarding the SS Tunisian, arriving in Quebec. We thought there was little else to find other than Census records from 1890 and 1901 and a few birth, marriage and death registrations of Margaret’s parents and her three siblings in Wales. I have yet to discover where Nora, Robert and John lived after their father’s death. Eventually I gave up any prospects of learning more. After the deaths of my parents in 2011 and 2014, family records included a Bible that had belonged to Margaret. Inside was an inscription that opened up a new search and is adding to her story after she arrived in Canada. There has been a gap between 1910 and 1919, when she married in Toronto and began raising a family. Information is slowly appearing and the search continues…