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Photo of John Knox Affleck

John Knox Affleck

Chemical Engineer
Birthplace Ontario Lanark CanadaPlace of Residence at HM Factory Gretna 13 – 15 the Ridge Eastriggs Place of Death Toronto Canada Date of Birth: June 3, 1894 Date of Death: January 19, 1988


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : John Knox Affleck
Gender: Male
Date and place of birth: 3rd June 1894 Lanark, Ontario.
Date and Place of Death: 1988, Toronto
Nationality: Canadian of ‘Scotch’ extraction
Childhood: Father died 6 months before he was born. Mother moved in with her parents
Parents: John Knox Affleck and Jane Camilla Wodden
Parents occupations: Farmer
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance:  Collegiate Institute, Perth.
University of Toronto School of Practical Science 1914-16 and 1919/20
Occupation: Chemical engineer
Place of residence at Gretna: 13-15 The Ridge Eastriggs
Marital status: Married in 1926
Children: None known
Travels: Across the Atlantic for deployment at H M Factory Gretna
Awards/recognitions: None known
 Positions held: Worked for Ryerson Institute
Trivia / any other information:  Yes- brother also worked as a Chemical engineer . John was a witness at brothers wedding in Annan in 1918 Bibliography
Websites about the individual:
Further links, notes, and comments:
University of Toronto archives



John Knox Affleck 1894- 1988 


In December 1916 two brothers, John Knox Affleck and Robert Dalton Affleck sailed into Liverpool en route to their war work for the  Board of Munitions  at HM Factory Gretna where they would both work as chemical engineers. They both interrupted their studies at the University of Toronto for this important work.  

This is  John’s story.  

John Knox was born on 3rd June 1894 at Lanark, Perth, Ontario to  John Knox Affleck, a farmer and Jenny Camilla nee Wodden. He was the youngest child of John and Jenny, being born six months after his father’s death which a public member tree states was caused by peritonitis.  

He had a sister Elsie J born on 4th November  1890 and a brother Robert Dalton born on 1st February 1893. John was the third to be named John Knox, the first being his grandfather who originated in Peebles in Scotland and emigrated to Canada in 1823. It is unclear where Jenny’s family originated from but indications in census returns is that her “racial or tribal origin” is Irish. 

His parents married on 8th January, 1890 , presumably in a Presbyterian or Congregational  ceremony as this is the religion they state very clearly on all censuses from 1891 to 1921 ( Canadian) as well as on the boy’s Attestation papers. 

As stated earlier, John K snr died in December 1893 leaving Jenny pregnant with John jnr and with an 8 month Robert and a 3 year old Elsie. Times must have been very challenging.  

In 1901 , the Canadian census lists Jane C Affleck as the head of the household, aged 44 ( born 2nd November 1856), describing herself as Canadian with Irish roots  and a Presbyterian. Elsie is 10, Robert D is 8 and John K all described with “Scotch” roots. They were living at Sth Lanark, Perth, Ontario. 

By 1911, Jenny had moved with her children to live with her widowed mother, John’s grandmother. She, Jane Wodden was 87, an Emma A Wodden, 45 was still at home, Jane Camilla Affleck, widow aged 54, Elsie J 20 now a student, Robert D 18 and John K 16. 

John became a student at the University of Toronto School of Practical Science studying Applied Chemistry. ( Yearbook 1921 University of Toronto archives ). The University Archives hold  a wealth of  resources regarding  both John and Robert and possibly other Chemists who served at Gretna.  

John’s service record tell us that he Attested on 31st March 1916 to the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force  and was to be deployed to munitions work. He had already spent two years as a private with the Canadian Officers Training Corps (C.O.T.C.).This was started in 1912 and fashioned after the equivalent programme in England ( Wikipedia) based at colleges and Universities – the University of Toronto COTC began in 1914 so John must have been one of its first recruits.  

On attestation  he gave his address as Spadina Avenue, Toronto, aged 21 yrs 9 mths, auburn hair, brown eyes and 5ft 5 ½ Ins tall. Presbyterian with a mole on his left jaw and a scar on his left knee. A student. 


He was deployed to o/s Munitions board in November 1916 and sailed to Liverpool in December along with many other Canadians heading to War work including 3 further Chemical engineers destined for the Board of Munitions. 

John is listed on the Electoral register for Eastriggs and Dornock as well as the Valuation Roll for 1918-1919. He is a chemical engineer living at 13-15 The Ridge, Eastriggs which was a hostel. He is also included in the Staff List of The Dornock Farewell, 1919 with a home address of North Bay, Ontario. 

In 30th May 1917 John is a witness at his brother Robert’s wedding at Greenknowe Church, Annan. His brother at the time gives an address of 1, Edward Place Annan, the same as his bride.  

We know that Robert and wife Doris Conron Smith became neighbours of John after their marriage because a birth registration for Antony Cyril Affleck in May 1919 places them at 46 The Rand, Eastriggs. John had a nephew. Robert and family were repatriated in December 1918 but John did not return to Canada until March 1919 –( Ship’s passenger listings.) Sailing from Liverpool. 

The University of Toronto archive Roll of Honour for 1918-1919 cites Department of explosives, munitions England for John. 

The 1921 Yearbook has a photograph of John and the following quote: 

“I winna blaw about mysel’ as ill I like my fauts to tell.” 

“Bought along by the stork on June 3. 1894, Perth, Onatrio. Matric at Collegiate Institute, Perth. Started at S.P.S with class ’18. In war work. Dep’t of Explosive supplies. England. On return joined in with class of ’21. 

The 1921 Canadian census lists John as a lodger at Spadina, North Bay with his mother being head of household. 

Aged 32, he married Jeanne Alexander Dingle, 25, on 16th October 1926 at the United Church of Canada , Toronto. Both gave Toronto addresses. The marriage registration gives John’s occupation as chemical engineer. 

Genuki states that John spent his working life as a chemical engineer at the Ryerson Institute , Toronto. This is described as a public research university and Wikipedia gives it’s date of establishment as September 1948. We have no indication of where John was employed between 1926 and 1948.  

The 1972 electoral register places John at Glengarry Avenue, Toronto, still described as a chemical engineer although he must have been retired at age 76.  

Sister Elsie never married, was a teacher and died in Perth, Ontario in 1983. Robert died in Penticton , British Colombia in 1977 and John died in Toronto in 1988 4 years after his wife Jeanne. They are both buried at Park Lawn Cemetery , Toronto.  

There is no evidence of John and Jeanne having any children.  


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