Throwback Thursday: My Dear Teacher

The ESL program at Knox has been around, in some iteration or another, for over a century. This Thursday is a throwback to both the impact and the legacy of that program.

This letter was sent by a former attendee of ESL classes, which were then called Chinese Classes, to Robert Duncan and his wife. Mr. Duncan was the secretary for the Chinese Class. In the letter from Vancouver dated November 11, 1920 he writes,

“My Dear Teacher

Just arrived here this afternoon and quite well on the train and also meeting some my friends in the city. The steamer will sail on the 18th from here. When I reached Hong Kong China I will write you again. Hoping you continue in your faithful work in Knox church the Chinese class. Thank you for your kindness and your help may God bless you.

Your pupil

W Jack Sang”


In another letter to Mr. and Mrs. Duncan, the same student wrote about his arrival in Hong Kong, and also said,

“I am thanks you for your kindness for the service you have rendered for the master and the faithfulness you have been with the Sunday School at Knox Church; the Chinese class. I am sure God will make use of you which you shall use His good works even during my absence from you. May God continue to bless you and keep you in His mighty hand.”


In a different letter to both Mr. and Mrs. Duncan, another student wrote about what life was like while in Muskoka.

“I have been safely arrive here in July 7th and also enjoy myself up here much better then in the city because of all the summer sports for example of swimming and so on.” The student went on to say “I also take this opportunity to thank you for all the kindness to me you have shown to me at the Sunday school.”

The legacy of ESL classes carries forward to today, where relationships still form the basis of this safe place for people to be welcomed, and to learn and practice a new language.

To get more information about volunteering to teach at ESL classes, and to be a part of this ongoing story, you can contact Sam at


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