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 Lila Caroline McGillivray Knowles  (1886 - 1979)



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Lived/Active: Ontario/Massachusetts / Canada      Known for: landscape, flowers, and coastal scene painting, teaching

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Lila Caroline (Knowles) Taylor is primarily known as Lila Caroline McGillivray Knowles

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Lila Caroline McGillivray Knowles WAAC (1886 – 1979)

A painter and educator, Lila Caroline (nee Taylor) McGillivray Knowles (Mrs. Farquhar McGillivray Strachan Stewart Knowles) was born in Granton, Ontario, studied in Toronto, Ontario and afterwards lived, for most of her life, in St. Thomas, Ontario where she died. (1)

Her mediums were oil, watercolor, gouache*, and pencil. Her subjects were landscapes, flowers, and coastal scenes. The locations included Ontario, Nova Scotia and Cape Cod. Her styles were Realism*, Plein Air* and Impressionism*; the AskART illustrations are good examples of her work.

Her art education includes studies in Toronto at the studio of Farquhar McGillivray Knowles, her future husband, and at the Central Technical School. She taught art at Alma College, St. Thomas, Ontario from 1925 until her retirement in 1957. (2)

Knowles was a member of the Women’s Art Association of Canada*. She also exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1924 and 1931), the Art Association of Montreal [now Montreal Museum of Fine Arts] (1931 and 1932), and at commercial galleries such as the Robert Simpson Company Ltd., Toronto (1944) and The Little Gallery, Toronto (1951). (3)

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* her works are in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario) and Museum London (Ontario).

1.1 Granton, Ontario is a small town about 90 miles south-west of Toronto, 15 miles north of London and 30 miles north of St. Thomas.

1.1 Only Susan Butlin (pp. 95 – 96), of our published sources, gives 1979 as the date of Knowles’ death, none give the location. We contacted Stephen Francom, Manager/ Archivist, Elgin County Archives (St. Thomas, Ontario) for more information; he kindly replied by email stating the following: “Actually, she died November 21, 1979. I'm not sure why, but some reference sources erroneously indicate that she died in 1967. At the time of her death she was a resident of the Valleyview Home for the Aged in St. Thomas.” Source: Stephen Francom, email April 16, 2012.

2.1 F.M. Knowles’ second wife Elizabeth Annie McGillivray Knowles (see AskART) died in 1928, Lila, who had known Farquhar and Elizabeth since at least 1895 when they were her guardians in Toronto, married Farquhar in 1931; he died in 1932. Source: Butlin (p. 95).

2.2 There is a disagreement between sources about Lila Knowles’ retirement date. The Westbridge dictionary says she was Art Director at Alma College from 1931 to 1961; the Macdonald dictionary says she continued to teach at Alma College for 30 years after she married Farquhar, which would also make the year of retirement 1961; and Butlin (pp. 95 – 96) says, Knowles taught at the school from 1925, became the school’s first Director of Fine Art in the 1930s and retired in 1957. We asked Stephen Francom at the Elgin County Archives about this, he replied, “Our records indicate that Mrs. Knowles was on the teaching staff of Alma College from 1925 until her retirement in June, 1957. She does not appear in any college class photographs, directories or lists of teaching staff in annual college prospectuses post 1957.” Source: Stephen Francom, email April 16, 2012.

All The Girls Have Gone: Alma College, the Latter Years (2011), by Susan Butlin (pp. 95 – 96) (see AskART book references)
Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)
The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: Spring Exhibitions 1880 – 1970 (1988), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 – 1979 (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)
A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)
James Reaney, Book Will Help Alma College to heal, The London Free Press, London, Ontario, June 9, 2011
Canadian Heritage Information Network*
Stephen Francom, Manager/ Archivist, Elgin County Archives, St. Thomas, Ontario  (by email April 16, 2012)
Gina Coady, Archivist Assistant, Elgin County Archives, St. Thomas, Ontario
* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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