was everyday life for my parents during their childhood in Ontario
in the 1940s?
Minister's Daughter, The Headmaster's Son
parents shared the experience of growing up with a prominent figure
in the community as a parent. In my mother's case, her father was
a Minister in the Presbyterian church, while my father was the son
of a high school principal.
So what was it like growing up as the daughter of a Minister?
didn't think much about my Dad being a Minister, I was used
People used to say to me "oh, I would never have believed
you're a minister's daughter", that was how they would compliment
I now see it as a huge social advantage because wherever we went,
we were on the ground floor, you never had to make your way socially
and as a result I never learned to do that....I suppose it gave
me a strong sense of being very important and then it's quite
to discover that you're not actually."
my Dad, the fact that his Father was in a position of authority,
had a considerable influence on his life:
dad, during the course of my life embarrassed me no end.
appreciate what it was like to go to a school where your father
was principal of the high school. He seemed to have no problem
things that made him conspicuous...there were kids who picked on
me because of it. I think for me, it made me seek out the
of others, I had to be one of the boys. When I went to school,
I made deliberate efforts to identify myself with my mates
with the authorities, so it developed my anti-authoritarianism
as a means of survival.."
of my parents found school work came easily and were successful
academically. My Dad went to South Huron Distict High School and
remember school and fortunately I was always able to learn
had a kind of photographic memory so for me exams weren’t
particularly difficult. But the things that I hated about school
were things like woodwork and drafting because at home we had no
hammer or saw and I used to cry before I went off to “shop” (manual
training) but Latin was alright. The other subject I hated was
art but learning, I found easy and I skipped a grade."
Mother changed schools alot but completed the bulk of her seconday
education in Chatham.
was a year ahead, I had been accelerated when I was 10. I
Chatham Collegiate Institute and it was a good school, I was well
taught and we had a very successful academic and social time.
had always wanted to go to university, I just assumed that I would.
I did very well, I'm a great exams person and I came top
of my year
and got scholarships and I ended up applying to the University
of Western Ontario to do journalism..."
Dad’s parents owned a cottage at Grand Bend on Lake Huron
which was about 13 miles away from Exeter where they spent time
do remember most particularly the summers, going swimming,
corn on the cob, sunsets, the warmth of the summer. My mother
loved to eat outside, have barbeques and she loved to watch the
sunsets from the brow of the hill.. My father loved to swim
breakfast and the water would be like a millpond. The cottage was
a simple structure with a lopsided fireplace and a deer hanging
over it and it was the joke of our family that people would
“did you shoot that deer Harold?" and of course it was laughable
that my father would have shot a deer.”
In accordance with the family’s strong protestant work ethic,
their relaxation at the cottage would always be preceded by a stint
working at their relatives the Patrick’s farm:
summer I would go to the Patrick farm in Ilderiton. In fact
age of 9 I was driving a tractor and cutting wheat, this was at
the end of the war when they were short of manpower.”
mother's family shared this belief that a stay on the family
would be in some way improving for their children...
the time I was 10, Sandy and I used to get sent to my Aunt's
and we would stay there for a fortnight to be...I don't know what
the plan was, a plan was never expressed but it was thought
good for us..
like my Dad, my mother also has lots of memories of summers
schools all finish at the end of June, it was a very long
We always were away for the month of August and home for the month
of July so from the age of 10 I went to a summer camp by the
run by the church in July and I loved that. It was a great thing
to be with your friends all the time for 10 days...
then we would go as a family on holiday. We went to Lake Huron
all the time..we would rent a cottage and I remember the favorite
one had no electricity, it had oil lamps, very romantic...we
always have a visit from the farm people and they would usually
bring steaks and we would have a barbeques...but it seems
to me now to look back that at all these quite boisterous family
occasions there was never any drink, none at all..."
Dad lived all his life in Exeter, a small town in rural Ontario.
He describes it thus:
town of about 2800 people, named after Exeter in Devon. There
certainly small mindedness and petty jealousy but also it was a
secure environment where you didn't lock your house up or
fears about safety. You would know almost everybody in town. You
could play outside, my brother and I would roam outside in
which was really quite remarkable.
family was part of the professional class, although teachers
not as highly regarded as doctors but these elite people got together
to play bridge and when the women came to play bridge, the
was just unbelievable, the laughing, the jokes….Bridge was
a very important part of the social cachet, you wouldn’t
be invited to play bridge just because you
were a good bridge player but also because of your social position.”
mother moved around quite a bit in accordance with her father’s
career as a Presbyterian Minister but the family was happiest
in Chatham where they lived from 1951 until 1960. In the interview,
she compared Chatham with the place where she currently lives
in England, Tunbridge Wells.
moved to a bigger church in Chatham and that was the prime
my mother and my grandmother’s life. They loved it, it was
very very social town, it was an old, old town and unlike Oshawa,
it wasn’t a company town (Oshawa was dominated by the General
Motors company), it was a proper town that had grown up, a bit
Tunbridge Wells it was the center of a rural area, there was a
lot of agriculture around. But it was very, very social, highly
and they were out to afternoon tea at least once a week. It was
all ladies getting dressed up with hats and go and have afternoon
and have a chat and then come home, sort of 3 to 4.30 not very
long but all very, very social...I always called it the deep south
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