Oscar Raymond Knight was born April 8, 1872 at Payson, Utah. He grew up on the ranch home west of Payson. Here he learned the skills of farming and caring for livestock which became a part of him. His education in Payson and the Brigham Young Academy gave him the foundation to continue school but he longed for the outdoor life of the ranch and to be with his fine horses and cattle. He always owned the best stock money could buy.
He filled a mission for his church in England and toured western Europe before he returned to work with his father.
In 1901 he was sent to Southern Alberta by his father to look over the new country. So much did it appeal to him with its spacious plains and abundant grass that he decided to make it his home. Here his father bought large areas and Raymond followed suit. The town of Raymond was named after him and his father brought in a sugar factory to help open up this virgin land for settlers.
Raymond Knight was a big man, both in stature, ideas, and ambition, and his generous heart was in keeping with his size. He bought large ranches and stocked them with the best cattle and horses on the range. It took a lot of men to run these places but these he found among the many settlers whom he had encouraged to come in. He made a trip to England and brought back over three hundred of the finest work horses that he could find. These became the nucleus of the heavy work breeds so necessary to pull the plows and other machinery of the farmers in those days. As his herd grew he sold or loaned them out to farmers who broke them to work and after the harvest was over returned them to the Knight ranch or bought them outright. He also bought milk cows and loaned those to needy people with the instruction to keep them as long as they needed them but to take good care of them. He donated to the town the Victoria Park and the land for the Agriculture School and farm and the cemetery.
Besides his own property which was all over Southern Alberta and as far north as Brooks, he managed the Knight Sugar Company holdings. When one considers a ranch of nearly 400,000 acres of land, fenced and divided into many pastures, stocked with 15,000 head of cattle and 40,000 sheep, one can realize the enormous responsibility of the job. Yet he had time for sports, and community activities to enrich the lives of everyone.
He organized and fathered the first stampede in Canada at Raymond and was an active participant in it. He introduced calf roping along with chariot races, and the Roman race with two horses but one driver standing with one foot on each horse. What thrillers these were!
His fame as a great stampeder soon spread across the continent. He was asked to stage a stampede for the Prince of Wales in Saskatoon, to be judge at the stampede in Madison Square Garden, New York, and to put on stampedes in many places. He won many honors and trophies at these shows for he was an outstanding cowboy himself. At Calgary in 1924 he was awarded the Prince of Wales Trophy which consisted of a silver calf mounted on a polished block with a silver rope dragging from its neck. This is one of his most coveted prizes.
In 1917 his father's interests in Utah became to extensive that he asked Ray to sell out and return to help him. This Mr. Knight was prepared to do.
When the people of Southern Alberta heard of this they arranged a farewell banquet in his honor at which the following resolutions were adopted.
TO RAYMOND KNIGHTAt a farewell banquet tendered by the people of Southern Alberta, Raymond, Alberta, Wednesday, December 12, 1917.
It is with profoundest regret that the people of Southern Alberta meet tonight to bid farewell. No better evidence of sincere appreciation and esteem could be had than the presence of so many friends. You have been with us so many years that we are indeed reluctant to say "Good-bye". It is a great source of joy to know that your distinguished father desires your services in the management of his extensive enterprises and is a further witness that you are a worthy son of a noble sire.
"When you came to Alberta seventeen years ago there was little or no development in this vast prairie land. Through you importation of purebred horses and extensive breeding of cattle and sheep and the cultivation of thousands of acres of land, the prairie had been transformed so that today we have numerous farms, thriving towns, and villages, happy homes and a contented prosperous people. In the material and practical things of our Provincial life you have rendered great assistance. We recognize in you a man of faith, of ambition, of judgment and of vision. You are not only big and stong in body; and wise and honest in judgment; and great and broad in intelligence; but you are likewise upright and sound in character, so that you have gained the proud distinction and are entitled to the appelation "The noblest work of God".
"Your example will refresh us in the coming days and your vigor and courage, and ambition, and integrity, will stimulate us to greater activities. When big questions arise and big issues are at stake we shall remember your counsel and your example; and your big manly form coming up on our mental vision will inspire us to endeavor to meet them in the same big successful way which has characterized your life and labors in the great Canadian west. We appreciate your labors, acknowledge with thanks your public service and are grateful for your association and companionship and in bidding you farewell, we sincerely wish for you and yours, bon voyage, God's blessing, health, happiness and success.
Signed on behalf of the people of Southern Alberta
by Duncan Marshall, Minister of Agriculture
T. J. O'Brien, Mayor of Raymond
Ernest Bennion, Mayor of Magrath
A. J. McLean, Minister of Public Works
W. D. L. Hardie, Mayor of Lethbridge
W. E. Pitcher, Mayor of Cardston
THIS 12th DAY OF FEBRUARY, 1917.
When Raymond Knight arrived in Utah he went over the affairs of the Knight Investment Company with his father, and after considerable deliberation he reached the conclusion that he would not fit into the picture as outlined and concluded to return to Canada where be began accumulating large tracts of land. Through the subsequent years financial successes and failures came but his indomitable spirit never quit striving.
In early 1942 he had a stroke from which he never recovered and although he received the best medical care science could give, he suffered until Feb. 7, 1947 when he died at the age of seventy-four.
Mr. Knight's wife, Isabelle Smith, was a school teacher before she married. They had five children prior to coming to Alberta. She lived in Raymond a number of years but her health was impaired and she returned to Provo where she died. Two of her children preceded her in death. Her eldest daughter, Uarda was a student of the University of Utah and a graduate nurse. Raymond, her oldest son was a mechanic and interested in mining. He enlisted in the World War of 1914. Kenneth liked farming and worked with his father. He attended Brigham Young College and the Utah Agricultural College. He filled two missions for his Church and is the only one of the family still living in Raymond.
Mr. Knight's second wife was Charlotte Maud Heninger, also a teacher who was the mother of three sons and two daughters. Her eldest son Owen died in his youth. Wayne H. filled a mission for the Church in France and Switzerland. He is a lawyer and lives in California. Jess H. filled a mission in Germany and is also a lawyer in training. He lives with his wife and family in Calgary, Alberta. Charlotte H. is a graduate of the University of Utah and Columbia University and served with distinction as a reporter with the American Air Force in the Far East. Mary Maxine graduated from the Brigham Young University, the University of Utah and specialized in psychiatry in Hartford, Connecticut. She married and lives in California.
Oscar Raymond Knight was a robust gentleman, "born of the frontier's need, disdainful of the spoken word, exultant in the deed," No man did more for his town and district that this great man. Truly, his father was the founder of the town but Raymond Knight was the builder.
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