Knowles, Catherine (Kate)

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                                       CATHERINE (KATE) KNOWLES
                                    Last of Englands Leaves Hollow
                                           By Cathy Carnahan

The following story first appeared in the Miramichi Leader Weekend on Oct. 11. Kate Knowles now lives in Loggieville with her daughter.

The small community of England's Hollow in the east end of Chatham is disappearing. NB Power is buying out homeowners with plans to use the newly acquired property as a buffer zone around their thermal generating plant. Homes are being boarded up and torn down. Others remain standing, but vacant.

There is only one small home still occupied in the immediate area around the plant and Catherine Knowles, better known as Kate, doesn't plan to leave before month's end. She turns 100 on Nov. 17 and England's Hollow has been her home most all her life. She thought it always would be. "I never dreamed of selling. That was the last thing 1 ever thought about. I thought if I ever left, they'd be carrying me out in a pine box," she said in an interview at her home on 14 McIntosh St.

When Knowles's neighbors sold out to NB Power, however, she didn't have much choice but to sell, too. It was either that or have no neighbors and Knowles didn't think she could tolerate it. She was not only losing her neighbors, but also her family in this close knit community. A nephew lived just up over the hill. A grandson lived in one house next door and her sister, Mona, lived in another. "Her bedroom window was always facing my kitchen window," Knowles said.

She sat in a living-room chair with her hand under her chin and her dark eyes sparkled. Her daughter, home visiting from Toronto, sat nearby. Her mother and aunt always knew if the other was okay by the way they drew their curtains, she said.

Kate nodded her head and gazed across the room. "But they're gone now. Harris's are gone, too. Everyone is gone," she said sadly. "Mom, you're the last of the McCoy's," her daughter said laughing. Then on a more serious note she said, "Mom is the last of the Englands to leave here."

Kate's mother, Janet, was an England. She was a daughter to George and Esther (MacDonald) England and it was George England's grandfather, Robert England, from whom England's Hollow got its name.

England’s Hollow Park was officially opened in 1978 and the land on which it is located is believed to have been a shipyard in the early 1800s. That park - with its beautiful rolling slopes and elegant, old trees - lies between the area where Kate was born and where she spent her adult life. "I was born up over the crooked hill, above the hollow .... more known now as Groat Street," Kate said grinning.

She and her family lived at Middle Island for awhile where her father, Thomas McFarlane, was caretaker at the quarantine station. But most of her life was spent at England's Hollow.

"The night I was married I came down from the manse and slipped right in here," Kate said. That was almost 80 years ago. She and her husband, John A. Knowles, best known as Jack, were married on Dec. 11, 1911. "I had nine children, but two babies died at five months old," Kate said. Three more children died later and Jack died in 1957.

"Nanny, my father's mother, (Mary Knowles) bought this land from Peter England and built the house in 1888," Ruth said. Peter England, a brother to George England and Kate's great-uncle, was one of the first mayors in Chatham.

Kate remembers this spring when an NB Power official told her they were buying the homes in the area. "I don't think he knew what to say when I said, 'Is it still going to be England's Hollow?'"

The short, small woman smiled and her daughter smiled back. "It's like the song, There Will Always Be an England, so, Mom, I guess there will always be an England's Hollow. She's leaving, but not by choice," Ruth said.

                             Knowles Marks 100 away from her home

After almost a century, Kate Knowles is saying good-bye to her home at England's Hollow. NB Power wants to have a buffer zone in front of their Chatham generating plant and has bought all the property in the immediate area. That includes a little blue house at 14 McIntosh St., which has been home to Kate for 80 of her soon to be 100 years.

Interestingly, Kate's grandparents, George and Esther (MacDonald) England gave up their home in England's Hollow about 1911 when the government put in railroad tracks. "My grandfather and grandmother went down to Middle Island to live with my mother," Kate recalled. "The government bought them out." Now the government has also bought out her and her neighbors. She expects to move by month's end and plans to go live with her daughter in Loggieville.

"Every year for the last few years my family always came and celebrated my birthday here with me," she said. Kate turns 100 on Nov. 17. She and her late husband, Jack, had nine children, but only four are living, one son and three daughters, plus more than 90 grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren. Three of her children all live in the local area, but a daughter lives in Toronto. She came home to be with her mother earlier this year and hadn't planned to return until November, but her mother needed her so she arrived.

"I can't find anything now," Kate said. "There's all my dishes piled in boxes," she said nodding to the brown cartons at the end of the room. "When I move I also have to take the picture of the white school and Middle Island with me," she said. The white school that Kate refers to is the old Wellington Street School in Chatham.

"This was a lovely place here before the hydro," Ruth said. Then the smell in the air got bad. There was often fallout from the plant and the family could no longer see the river like they once did. Kate says she could never hang out her clothes, but she never complained. Kate agreed. "I put up with everything. I never said anything. Live and let live, eh," she said.

Source: Miramichi Weekend - January 03, 1992

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