“Happy 131st Birthday, Jennie!”

Another 1921-2021 Centennial in the History of Canadian Science and Technology

First posted Friday, December 10, 2021 / Yom shishi, 6 Tevet, 5782.

By David Orenstein

            Since my last post regarding the 1921 Toronto AAAS, I found out more about the only Canadian woman delegate to Section A Mathematics and to the Affiliated Society: the Mathematical Association of America, Jennie A. Kinnear, from Port Colborne. It’s all thanks to the help I received from Michelle Vosburgh, Archivist at the Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum, in Kinnear’s hone town.

For one thing, my surmise that Kinnear was born in 1890 was correct, based on her graduating from Queen’s in 1913 with first Class Honours as a Mathematics Specialist. She was born Jennie Augustine Kinnear on December 14th, 1890, in Cayuga, Ontario, the second of four children. Her parents were Elizabeth Eleanor Kinnear [née Thomson] and Louis Kinnear. They had married at Byng, Ontario, August 2 [hence Augustine?], 1888.

Louis practiced law in Port Colborne, after being called to the Bar in 1902, until his death in 1924. Elizabeth was a teacher before marriage.

Kinnear had an older brother, Louis Arthur Kinnear, born in 1889. Like Jennie, he graduated from Welland High School, a few miles north on  the Welland Canal form Port Colborne.

He also went to Queen’s, instead receiving a B.Sc. and an M.E. from the Graduate School of Mining in 1912. After qualifying as an Ontario Land Surveyor and a Dominion Land Surveyor in 1913 (Jennie’s grad year) and 1914, respectively, Louis Arthur conducted survey parties for the Canadian Government in the Western Provinces. He returned to Ontario to work for The Ontario Hydro Electric Power Commission, but tragically drowned at Cameron Rapids while taking soundings for constructing Nipigon Power Development, on May 12, 1919.

Jennie’s younger sister, Helen Alice Kinnear, was also born in Cayuga, on May 6, 1894; only 57 years before my birthday in 1951. She did go to Welland High, but instead of Queen’s she went to her father’s Alma Mater, the University of Toronto, where she was an Honours Graduate in English and History, graduating B.A, during WWI, that is 1917.

Again, just like Louis Kinnear, she went to Osgoode Hall Law School for three years (1917-1920), being called to the Bar in 1920. She joined her father’s law practice, now called “Kinnear and Kinnear”. She maintained the name even after her father’s death in 1924, changing it only when she found a new partner, Mr. H.F. Hazlewood, in 1928. The renewed law practice was called “Kinnear and Hazlewood”. In my first Kinnear blog post it was noted that Jennie joined them as financial controller in 1939, having retired from teaching at age 59.

There was also a younger brother, Robert Alexander Kinnear, born at Waterford, Ontario, on August 21, 1897. He was another graduate of Welland High School but appears not to have gone on to university. Instead, Robert pursued a career in the grain industry, becoming Superintendent of the Grain Elevator at the Port Colborne Plant of Maple Leaf Milling.

He married Mary Elizabeth Manning on December 27, 1924. That made Frank Manning from the Dominion Government Elevator at Port Colborne his father-in-law and Matilda Manning (née Carter) his mother-in-law.

Robert and Mary had no children, according to my sources. Both Jennie and Helen never married, and Louis died young. So, there was no succeeding generation of Port Colborne Kinnears.

Happily, the family is commemorated in Port Colborne’s Kinnear Street. It’s a short, two block long, East-West street in the Southeast quadrant of town. It runs from Fares Street to the West, to Davis Street to the East. At Fares it is only two short blocks from the East Bank of the Welland Canal and quite close the North Shore of Lake Erie.

Many of the members of the Local Committee (chaired by John Charles Fields) for the 1921 Toronto AAAS, that Jennie A. Kinnear attended, are similarly commemorated in the physical fabric of the University of Toronto.

But that’s another story.


  1. Port Colborne:
  • Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum (PCH&MM).


  • Welland Canal online exhibit at PCH&MM.


  • Exhibit on “Judging”, featuring Helen Kinnear at PCH&MM


  • Map of Kinnear Street, Port Colborne.


  1. Queen’s University:
  • Arts’ 13 Year Book, “Jennie A. Kinnear on p. 51 of text with image.


  • 1939 Queen’s Review see “Alumni News’” in October 1939 issue 13(7), p.213 “Miss Jennie Kinnear”


  • Louis A. Kinnear listed as Ontario Land Surveyor, p. 339


  1. 1921 Centennial Blog Posts:
  • Introducing the 1921-2021 Centennials, January 6, 2021.


  • Insulin Centennial
  1. Introducing the Insulin Centennial, February 5,2021.


  1. Insulin in June 1921 (June 4, 2021).


  • Insulin in July,1921, July 23, 2021.


  • National Resech Coumcil Chairmen
  1. NRC 1921:R.F. Ruttan New NRC Chair Centennial Post;February 19, 2021.


  1. Robert Alexander Ross, the third Chairman of the National Research Council; August 20, 2021

Montreal Engineer New NRC Chairman: One Hundred Years Ago Yesterday

  • 1921 Toronto AAAS
  1. Jennie A. Kinnear, October 8, 2021

Jennie A. Kinnear of Port Colborne