Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Lila Caroline McGillivray Knowles (née Taylor)

Much sooner than expected, after the last posting, I have come across a collection of photos, available on-line, from the Elgin County Archives. It includes a fonds from Alma College, where Lila Caroline McGillivray Knowles taught Art from 1925 to 1957.

Searching for ‘Knowles’, I turned up several photos of Lila Caroline from the mid-1930s to the late 1940s. My sister had already found the later ones, posted on ancestry.ca, where Lila Caroline is a person of interest to several contributors.


Born in 1885, she was 49+ in these photos, so I still hoped for something earlier. A few days later I realized that because she started teaching at Alma College in about 1925, and didn’t marry Farquhar McGillivray Knowles until 1931, I should search the fonds for her maiden name ‘Taylor’ [I get there, eventually …]

Several more photos emerged of 'Miss L. Taylor', the earliest of which is from the Alma College composite class photograph, 1926. In that year, Lila Caroline was 40 or 41. To me, Bertha’s portrait seems to be of a somewhat younger woman than that. Her short-cut hairstyle could be as early as 1921 or even earlier, according to The Bob by Michael Warner, at which time Lila Caroline would have been about 35.  All that seems to fit.

In any case, the new finds allow the closest comparison (by age) that we’ve been able to make so far.

Is Bertha’s painting a portrait of the same woman?  Opinions differ!  I'm personally inclined to say it is.

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