George Knowlson scholastic novice; born Cavan, Peterborough County, Ontario, 15 November 1834, son of John Knowlson and Mary Thompson; died Montreal 5 May 1852.
One of four children, George Knowlson was the son of a non-practising Catholic father and an Anglican mother in the staunchly Orange Protestant village of Cavan.
His father arrived in Canada from Yorkshire, England, in 1817 and was postmaster for a time, and eventually a major in the militia. To educate his two sons he sent them in 1847 to College de Nicolet and in 1849 to Regiopolis College in Kingston. With their father’s knowledge, George and his brother James took instructions in the Catholic faith from Remi Tellier, SJ, and on Easter Monday of 1850 made a profession of faith, received Communion, and were confirmed by Bishop Patrick Phelan of Kingston.
Five weeks later George Knowlson wrote his father for permission to enter the Society of Jesus, and his father expressed great joy at this news. On 14 August 1850 he entered the novitiate in Montreal as the first Anglophone born in Ontario to be a member of the New York-Canada Mission. In the fall of 1851 both brothers were at College Ste-Marie in Montreal, one as a Jesuit novice and the other as a student. George began to show signs of tuberculosis with hemorrhaging in his lungs. In his eighteenth year Knowlson died after pronouncing his first vows on his deathbed. His father in 1855 moved the family to Lindsay, Ontario, and became a major benefactor of St. Mary’s Church.