Charles Edward Knister 
Location served:
Years in Practice:
1903 to 1978
Area of Specialization:
Family Medicine  


Dr. Charles Edward Knister was born in Maidstone Township (Essex County), Ontario on the 11th of February, 1881.  Dr. Knister was the eldest of 2 children born to Adam Knister and the former Nancy Ann Hill.  His parents were farmers and his brother was named Almer Knister.

Dr. Knisters primary education was in a local school and prior to attending university, he graduated from Essex High School.  While in his first year at university, he achieved top honors for a scholarship with 2 other students.  Dr. Knister graduated M.B. (with honours) from The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine in 1903.

Dr. Knister returned to his roots and opened his medical office in Staples (Essex County), which at the time had a population of 300 people.  He eventually moved to Comber, (also in Essex County).  Initially Dr. Knister travelled to his patients using a horse and buggy and a cutter in the winter. Eventually Dr. Knister moved his medical office to Comber, but he continued to care for the people in Staples.  Often the road was impassable in the winter, even with a cutter, so he was known to take a railway handcar from Comber to Staples.

In 1904, Dr. Knister operated the first privately owned telephone system in Ontario.  The line ran on fence posts from Staples to Comber and had 247 telephones connected to it.  Dr. Knister sold the telephone business to the Tilbury West Municipal Telephone System in 1912 and at that time there were 247 telephones on the system.

Dr Knister married Mary Ethel Forbes on the 30th of June, 1906 in Detroit, Michigan.  According to her birth record, Mrs. Knister was born in Lambton County, Ontario on the 28th of September 1883.   She and her twin brother Joseph DeGursey Forbes were the eldest of 7 children born to Peter Joseph Forbes and the former Josephine DeGursey.  Her parents were farmers and her siblings besides Joseph were; Isabella Maud Forbes, Peter Louis Forbes, George Edward Forbes (who died as a child), Stanley Clarence Forbes and Russell Arthur Forbes.  According to the 1901 census, the Forbes family resided in Tilbury West Twp where her father was a hotel keeper.

Dr and Mrs. Knister were the proud parents of a son, Russell Edward Knister who was born on the 28th of March, 1907 in Comber.

Dr. Knister travelled the short distance to Tilbury and to homes in the surrounding area on a regular basis to deliver babies and to tend to the sick.  The going rate for a home birth delivery was $5.00, but he was known to never turn a patient in need away.  His name appears on numerous birth and death records.  Dr. Knister served as the Medical Officer of Health for Tilbury West, Tilbury North and Rochester Twp.  In 1967 he received a Centennial Medal for his dedication to the health of Canadians.

Dr. Knister lived on a farm and grew corn and sugar beets.  He also raised chickens.  In his spare time, he enjoyed bowling and umpiring baseball games and he belonged to the Parviam Lodge No 395 in Comber.

Mrs. Knister died at the Windsor Western Hospital Centre (Windsor, Ontario) on the 6th of September, 1974.  Dr. Knister died at the Windsor Western Hospital Centre on the 15th of June, 1978.  Dr. and Mrs. Knister were buried at the McDowell Cemetery, 7000 Gracey Sideroad, Tilbury West Twp, Essex County, Ontario.  The doctor’s parents are buried at the same cemetery.

*Dr. Knister’s brother Almer Knister and his son Russell Edward Knister served with the United States Armed Services in WWI and WWII.  

**Mrs. Knister’s brother’s Peter Forbes and Stanley Forbes both served with the United States Armed Services in WWI.  Her brother Peter also served with the United States Armed Services during WWII.