AudioArt Grubbe interview
D. Murray Brown (00:03):
This is an interview with Art Grubbe, OAC year '41 conducted by Murray Brown, OAC year '51, for the University of Guelph Alumni Association. We're doing this on June the 8th, 1994. What factors influenced you to decide to attend OAC at Guelph back in a period near the end of the Great Depression of the 1930s, Art?
Art Grubbe (00:26):
Well, I suppose that's a very interesting question, actually. I had pretty well decided that I was going to take over the farm with dad at home. And I'd done...
D. Murray Brown (00:46):
Where was home, Art?
Art Grubbe (00:47):
Oh, home was North York township on the banks of the Humber River, and we were the sixth concession of North York Township, lot 19 and 20, I guess. And so anyway, I was about to take over, with Dad, but I hadn't really made up my mind. So I'd gone out west with an aunt of mine as a companion and so on to visit. My uncle had banked through the BC interior. And so we went out to see him and a whole bunch of different friends, family friends of one sort or another, right straight through to Vancouver and so on.
Art Grubbe (01:31):
But any rate, Uncle Ralph, when I announced that I was going to be farming, "You've got to go to Guelph." That was the dictum as far as he was concerned. Why, I don't know, but I suppose he'd contacted a lot of farm people and farm activity, one sort and another in the course of his BC agriculture. And as far as he was concerned, this was it. A person had to pursue their education in agriculture.
D. Murray Brown (02:01):
So you then decided to start at OAC. That would be the fall of 1937, then?
Art Grubbe (02:06):
'36, actually, because I didn't have my... Well, I guess you'd call it senior matriculate at that time, or grade 13, I suppose, the equivalent. I'd had some illness earlier on and I'd been in and out and I finished not having it. So a brother of mine that had finished his grade 13 and he agreed to stay home with Dad while I was up here at Guelph. So, in the fall of '36, yes, I came up here to Guelph.
D. Murray Brown (02:41):
So you moved right into residence when you came as a student, Art?
Art Grubbe (02:44):
That's right. I didn't do Mem Hall. Or not Mem Hall, into admin building.
D. Murray Brown (02:50):
Which is now Johnson Hall again.
Art Grubbe (02:52):
That's right. And we were on the fourth floor of the admin building.
D. Murray Brown (02:59):
And did they eat in Creelman Hall at that time?
Art Grubbe (03:02):
We ate in Creelman Hall, and we had to have, or no, I shouldn't say had... Yeah, I guess that was, practically I had to. I can't remember whether we had to have a collar and tie, but I believe we did have a collar and tie and a jacket to go to meals.
D. Murray Brown (03:20):
Certainly we did at supper time back 10 years later from that.
Art Grubbe (03:23):
Yeah. And I can't remember for sure whether, you might very well be right, but that was it.
D. Murray Brown (03:29):
I think we could wear our class sweaters to go to meals for breakfast and lunch time.
Art Grubbe (03:35):
D. Murray Brown (03:36):
But I believe we had to have a suit on or a jacket to go to supper.
Art Grubbe (03:40):
D. Murray Brown (03:41):
Speaking of supper, what was the cost of food and lodging in residence in those days, Art? Do you remember?
Art Grubbe (03:47):
Oh, gee. Yeah. My memory would... Well, of course you see, I started out in the diploma.
D. Murray Brown (03:54):
Art Grubbe (03:54):
Or the year...
D. Murray Brown (03:56):
Art Grubbe (03:56):
And I believe we probably were highly subsidized at that time as a result of the Great Depression, and I really can't. I should have looked that up probably. I don't know where I'd find it if I did, but probably somewhere around where I...
D. Murray Brown (04:13):
Well, I can tell you, I can pretty near guarantee it would be less than $9 a week.
Art Grubbe (04:15):
D. Murray Brown (04:16):
Because we paid $9 a week from 1947 to '51.
Art Grubbe (04:19):
D. Murray Brown (04:20):
And it increased to $10 a week in the fall of 1951.
Art Grubbe (04:23):
Right, so I think it would be less than that, yeah. Somewhere in there, yeah.
D. Murray Brown (04:30):
Art, were there any amusing incidents occurred during your early years at OAC, particularly the first year or two?
Art Grubbe (04:38):
Well, I guess one of the things that happened to me, I think it was probably about the first Sunday, we were coming back from Creelman Hall and right at the entrance into the side of that side entrance into the admin building, I tripped and so on, and I went down and of course I was out cold. And they got me up into Doc Annie's apartment, and I guess well I had small concussion. That's what it really amounted to. And initiation was going on, and she would not let me go to that, and I had to come up and stay with her in this apartment. Well, it was really an infirmary.
D. Murray Brown (05:27):
Yes. We had that infirmary from '47 on too.
Art Grubbe (05:30):
Yeah. Right. So, I missed the initiation as such because of that episode, and then so on. I suppose another interesting event happened, and I think probably was the best thing that ever happened to me. Don Hendricks was from Jamaica and had a bit of a hearing problem. And that first year I would go down and review with him the lectures that we'd had on that particular day. And really and truly that was the best thing that ever happened to me. It affirmed in the whole story of the lectures and that sort of thing.
D. Murray Brown (06:13):
Certainly any review that you would have, particularly if you did at the end of the day, it would be real helpful, especially when it came to exams.
Art Grubbe (06:21):
That's exactly the story. Yeah.
D. Murray Brown (06:24):
What did you major in, Art?
Art Grubbe (06:25):
Well, of course you see, the first two years were the diploma year, or whatever. I've forgotten what the real title was, but then we had to do the intermediate year, which made it a five-year course. And in a sense, we caught up on various, biochemistry, I guess, and one or two other subjects, which I didn't have because of the grade 13. Now, those were real headaches as far as I was concerned, because I didn't have the background from high school. And I think I made it, but only just.
D. Murray Brown (07:08):
So then you went from that intermediate year into a major in your final two years, which would be from '39 to '41.
Art Grubbe (07:18):
Yeah, I did. Crop Science. Field Husbandry, as we called it in those days.
D. Murray Brown (07:24):
Art, who was head of Field Husbandry at that time?
Art Grubbe (07:28):
Dr. McRostie, and he had just recently come in.
D. Murray Brown (07:33):
Was there a...
Art Grubbe (07:35):
A year or two before that when Squirrel was killed in an accident, if I remember correctly. But of course the other big chap that seemed to do a lot of things for us was O.J. McConkey. He was a real character, and certainly...
D. Murray Brown (07:58):
Those two were still around when I was an undergraduate student. In fact, Dr. McRostie talked me into taking a master's, after I completed my bachelor's degree in 1951, out of interest.
Art Grubbe (08:12):
Yeah. Yeah. The other thing, and I suppose this was what got me going as one of the things that we got involved in. I don't know whether you did it in your time or not, but was the student labor. And of course we were all poor as church mice and all the rest of it. I can't remember. I think it was 10 cents an hour is what we got for working, and one of the jobs that I got, and it was nice and inside all the rest of it, was picking grain. And Whiteside was another chap that...
D. Murray Brown (08:52):
He was superintendent.
Art Grubbe (08:53):
Yeah. He was, and he did a lot of work on, on developing certain pieces of equipment and one thing or another. One of them was this belt that the seed would drip down and you'd pick out this and that and the other thing. Rouging out the poor quality seed and our weed seeds, even.
D. Murray Brown (09:12):
And so they paid you 10 cents an hour to do that then.
Art Grubbe (09:13):
I think it was 10 cents an hour but whatever it was, I got enough money together that in my third year I was able to go to the big dance.
D. Murray Brown (09:24):
Is that right? Out of interest, well I can remember that my father was paid 90 cents an hour beginning in the fall of 1939 after the war started to do carpentry work at Camp Boardman, which is now Base Boardman.
Art Grubbe (09:39):
D. Murray Brown (09:40):
And that would give you some idea of the wages for adults in the workforce at that time. What professors besides McConkey and McRostie had an impact on you and particularly on your career after graduation?
Art Grubbe (09:59):
I would think probably the person that stands out... You see in the first two years, we had quite a bit of Animal Science and An Hub and of course mixed with field and some Horticulture too, quite a bit of Horticulture. But I suppose the one dang person that examined my... One of the outstanding people as I remember it was, was Prof Risby. I think maybe I've got my notes on one particular lecture or one series of lectures that he gave, and I still have them. And I could probably sit down and write a speech on those notes that he gave us. He was just so wonderful to take notes from, and all that sort of thing. He was one of the top one. I don't think I got an awful lot more out of it.
Art Grubbe (10:53):
Of course, we had Knox who was head of the Science department. We had some funny names about them. I suppose it's fair enough to say Pig Guy was one of the big ones, so we called him. And the big thing as I recall, and it's sort of all coincidental the way things happened, but he sort of lectured on getting animals small enough so that the roast could be made the right size for the apartment dweller that was developing and all this sort of thing. And I suppose that attitude and that way of... But he wasn't alone in it exactly either, and it seemed to be, well, the Shorthorn people are probably the worst. They got everything down. So, and the Angus, so pony-like that this was one of the things. And of course, well, Millhills Ransom was one of the bulls that was brought in in Dr. Christie's era, is supposedly going to do everything for the Shorthorn breed and bring him into that sort of area.
D. Murray Brown (12:08):
Certainly 10 years later, we heard lots about Millhills Ransom and that was emphasized by Prof Knox, too.
Art Grubbe (12:16):
Yeah. Yeah. The other one, of course, was Crazy Realization, the Clydesdale stallion that they brought in from Scotland, of course. I started out with class of '40 and on April Fools' Day, Gord Innes, I called up Dr. Christie's office, and he could imitate Andy Crawford just like he was there. Andy, of course, was in charge of horses and that part of it. And it was fairly broad Scottish brogue. So at any rate, Gord imitated him and said that Crazy Realization had fallen and broken a leg. So we watched out from the top of third floor, I think at that particular time, and here was Christie out the front door and down the hall towards the horse barns, just a-hopping. He believed every word of it. I don't know whether he ever found out. To my knowledge, it didn't do any inherent damage to Gord for having pulled his trick on him. But that was one of the things that happened.
D. Murray Brown (13:34):
One of the hijinks that students carry out. And did you carry out any hijinks on residents at that time when you were?
Art Grubbe (13:46):
Well, I don't know why we never did. I guess the only one thing that happened, of course, eight to nine it was study hour and everybody had to be quiet and supposedly studying all the rest of it. And you were allowed to go out to various things. And I had been out to one of the club meetings and came in after eight o'clock. And I guess at the head of the stairs was Clare Burt's room next to mine. And I poked my head in and made some foolish remark and Clare just cackling away like he'd laid half a dozen eggs or something or rather, but who should be coming down the hall, I guess, right behind me and I hadn't seen him was Dean Sands. So down to the sunny room I had to go and stay there for a period of time, until I had learned my lesson that I was not to break up the quietness of the eight to nine hour study period.
D. Murray Brown (15:00):
Who were the, say, characters, comic characters, and perhaps any real scholarly students in your class?
Art Grubbe (15:11):
Yeah, well, because there's the problem of me shifting from '40 to '41 and so on, but I suppose the outstanding people that I remember, and they had that mock parliament, Don Huntley was Prime Minister or whatever you want to call his position, and Norm High. And those two people, they could debate like there was no tomorrow. They just carried the whole thing out and then made so much, seemed to make everything stand out, as far as I was concerned.
D. Murray Brown (15:52):
If I recall, Don Huntley had taught school before he came to OAC?
Art Grubbe (15:59):
Could very well be. And maybe the same for a Norm High. I think they were all a little bit older than the average. I actually was quite a bit older than my classmates. I think I would be 21 you see when I started in 1936 and so on and I was there for a purpose and the purpose tried to be to get as much education as much as I could. So I suppose really, I didn't get into a lot of hijinks of one sort or another, or tried not to.
D. Murray Brown (16:40):
Yes. Well we...
Art Grubbe (16:41):
I wasn't a golden boy either as far as that's concerned.
D. Murray Brown (16:44):
No, I wouldn't be surprised. What about your graduation exercise? Where was it held during the war years?
Art Grubbe (16:54):
D. Murray Brown (16:54):
Had the Air Force, first of all, had the Air Force moved in before you graduated?
Art Grubbe (16:58):
Well, you see, that was another very interesting situation. We went back in January of '41. We never knew from almost week to week what was going to happen to us. The first week we were going have to, at the end of January, we going to have to get out and find residence someplace or other. And this went on all the time until, I would think, around the 1st of April and boom, we were out on the 15th day of April. Didn't even have to write exams.
D. Murray Brown (17:33):
This was your final exams in 1941.
Art Grubbe (17:36):
Final exams, that's right.
D. Murray Brown (17:37):
And did they hold graduation that year?
Art Grubbe (17:39):
The graduation was held and we all passed. We all marched past Archie Porter and got the nod and all the handshake and all the rest of it.
D. Murray Brown (17:49):
Where was that procession held then?
Art Grubbe (17:54):
Well, you see Johnny Eccles and I would disagree on this because I think that the President were still in the admin building, and I'm sure that we lined up and went past Archie Porter in his office there. And then maybe we didn't gather there, but we simply went to Mem Hall and went through the graduation exercises with Sir William Mullock as being the chancellor at that time.
D. Murray Brown (18:35):
Art Grubbe (18:35):
D. Murray Brown (18:35):
He was chancellor of the University of Toronto.
Art Grubbe (18:35):
D. Murray Brown (18:35):
And he come up for graduation?
Art Grubbe (18:37):
Exactly, which had been the custom all of those years.
D. Murray Brown (18:40):
I asked the question about graduation because I attended the OAC graduation ceremonies last Friday.
Art Grubbe (18:45):
D. Murray Brown (18:46):
And they held it out in the Johnson Green.
Art Grubbe (18:48):
D. Murray Brown (18:48):
And of course the Johnson Green would be there in the days that you were there as well.
Art Grubbe (18:53):
As such, yes, they were. So I was trying to think when the archway of the old Johnson Hall, when it was first put up. If you have any idea...
D. Murray Brown (19:05):
I think it was the early thirties that Johnson Hall was replaced by the administration building.
Art Grubbe (19:11):
Probably... In '31 or two or something like that.
D. Murray Brown (19:13):
Right and they would've moved the archway.
Art Grubbe (19:15):
D. Murray Brown (19:15):
I expect to the front campus in the early thirties.
Art Grubbe (19:18):
Exactly. Yeah. Right.
D. Murray Brown (19:21):
Do you think OAC provided you with the proper background for your career following graduation?
Art Grubbe (19:27):
Well, I think so, very much really. I suppose we had a group in the student Christian movement, and one of the things that the group decided was that we weren't getting enough on Rural Sociology. And actually, Dr. McConkey was the one that got us. He arranged for Dr. Raymond. He was with, I think, what was it, the Bowman School for Wayward Boys or whatever the story was. And of course, later, then became head of the English department. And Raymond, of course, he filled us in on a lot of what, to me afterwards, became rather important as a agricultural extension worker, which was my career. And I think that was one of the big things that we got from that. But we got so many different things that... And you had to be everything to everybody as being an ag rep.
D. Murray Brown (20:47):
What you would say would be a good general education for agricultural industry?
Art Grubbe (20:52):
Yeah. That certainly would be the spot at that time. And then these little extras helped out greatly too.
D. Murray Brown (21:01):
Perhaps before we close, Art, you could give me a short chronology of your career in agriculture. You were with the Agricultural Extension Service your whole career?
Art Grubbe (21:13):
No, well, actually I started out, I suppose, in a sense it was, but I graduated in the spring of '41 and really didn't have any job or any place else except that one of the chaps I got to know pretty well, he'd been a technician or whatever it was down at the Delhi Research Station. And if I wanted to go down there, he thought he could get me in. So I went down there and spent the summer planting tobacco and all that sort of thing. And I thought I wanted to go on into research in Crop Science and that sort of thing. And I suppose I could have had more of that part of it. Ford Stinson of course, was the superintendent of the Delhi Station, which was the federal end of it and the tobacco. I certainly learned a lot of things about tobacco, got a sore back and the dirty pants and all that sort of thing picking tobacco and all these things that happened.
Art Grubbe (22:22):
But I really, outside of seeing the research plots and that kind of thing, how they worked, that was about all that added to me. Red Stockton who was head of the Agriculture Representative Branch at the time, came down to see me at that time and offered me a job as assistant in Prince Edward County at Picton. So that's 1st of October. I was down there but it would've been through with the Station at Delhi anyway. So I was there from 1st of October '41 through April of '43, when I was transferred up to Gray County in Markdale, and Tommy Cooper was the ag rep. And we were married in September of '43. And I could tell you a whole lot of stories about different things between Tommy Cooper and all the rest of it there. That was an experience in itself.
Art Grubbe (23:33):
And then I was transferred to Oxford County. Ray Green was not in too good shape at the time. And so I was down there until, I guess, well, it was about March of '43 when I finally went down to Lanark. There was the offices at Stormont... Offices at Dundas, Stormont and Glengarry were East Stormont and Dundas and so on. There were two but they were opening up a new office in Stormont. And I had been proposed to, it had been suggested, would I like to go down there, which I had agreed to. Ab Barr who been out for period of time when things weren't good, because through the dirty thirties, the ag rep salary had not increased any great amount. So he had been out less than the year and thought he wanted to get back with agriculture, which he could do at that time. So that went pie.
Art Grubbe (24:46):
Well, then I guess Fred [inaudible] died suddenly in Lanark in January of '45. And it had been suggested that's would be my angle, but Lanark County had, had developed a resistance to having certain people foisted on them and they were going to say in no uncertain terms who they wanted. So it took them, I think, until about March or certainly early April, to decide who was going to be the ag rep down there. Who they would accept and of course who would get it from the head office point of view. Which was very interesting.
Art Grubbe (25:37):
Part of the interesting thing too, was of course, out of that, I had taken a load of junior farmers from Gray County down to the Parliament buildings, I think would be early May, sometime like that, when Art Martin, who was the Assistant Director of Crop Extension at that time, and who had been responsible for more or less running or organizing the junior farmers. So we met in the old attic of the Parliament buildings, which there was no fancy Dan stuff about them at all, but here was the rafters open and everything else, wooden floor. We met there and it was decided then, that would be in April or May of '43, it was decided that the junior farmers should be organized. So it happened in, I think it would be about February of '45 that the organization meeting of the junior farmers and this is the 50th year for the junior farmers organization.
Art Grubbe (27:02):
So they met and I happened to be in the same room with a couple of staunch junior farmers, namely Ernie Miller, Ray Poole, who were very strong junior farmer people from Lanark County. And they weren't going to have any part of this being told what they could do as far as the junior farmers end of it was concerned. It was quite a pull between the... Well, it wasn't quite the United Farmers deal, but it was almost something where along like that, they'd been... Well federation too, I guess at that time was sort of tending to promote young people organizations as a part of the federation. And they had really worked on their junior farmers organization as such, and they weren't going to have that part of it interfered with.
D. Murray Brown (27:56):
So did you end up then as agriculture representative in Lanark?
Art Grubbe (28:00):
In Lanark County and that would be in April of '45. And I was there until 1st of July of 1961 when I was transferred to Wellington County and the office was at Arthur and was there from that period of time until I retired in 1976.
D. Murray Brown (28:26):
Now, did you replace Steve Stutters as agriculture representative?
Art Grubbe (28:34):
No, Don Black.
D. Murray Brown (28:35):
Don Black was here after Steve Stutters retired?
Art Grubbe (28:38):
That's right. Yeah.
D. Murray Brown (28:39):
See, Steve Stutter's son, Steve was a... Art, since you were an agriculture representative in Wellington County, was there a real advantage to being in Wellington since the agriculture college was in the south end?
Art Grubbe (28:51):
Very much so as far as I was concerned. I had a bugger, an insect or something or other, and I could come in and talk to Harold Goble or Chuck Kelly or so on or a weed and have to identify. Now the rest of it was a real source and we did a lot of projects with crop yields and high yield barley and this kind of thing. And it was very easy to come into OAC and into the Crop Science Department, have those crops thrashed and weighed up and come up with some real results.
D. Murray Brown (29:30):
Well, that's great Art. I'd certainly like to thank you for your time in providing information for the University of Guelph Archives on your student days and career as an aggie and service to agriculture in Ontario for a great number of years.