Fred Jerome

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            Fred, who retired as a Professor in Poultry and Animal Genetics, at the OAC, was raised on a dairy-poultry farm near Mount Hope, in Wentworth Co. He came to OAC in 1929 when tuition was $40.00 per year, and room and board were $6.00 per week. He relates some initiation experiences, the friendship he made in his early work with Mr. Donald M Q Shaver, a noted poultry breeder in Ontario.

            Fred also had a Masters Degree from Toronto and a Ph.D. from Cornell University. He was awarded the “Senior of Interest” in the Guelph Centennial year and the contents of the letter he received as a result are included in this interview.

Graduation Year




Interview Date


Ross Hay

Call Number

RE1 UOG A1340025


Fred Jerome interview


Ross Hay (00:02):
I am at the home of Fred Jerome, Dr. Fred Jerome, 299 Edinburgh Road in Guelph. Fred has been a longtime associate of the university as a geneticist. He was associated with the animal and poultry science when he retired. Now, Fred, where were you born?

Fred Jerome (00:34):
I was born at Mount Hope in Wentworth County.

Ross Hay (00:41):
So you were a farm boy?

Fred Jerome (00:43):
Yes. Born on the home farm there, Mount Hope.

Ross Hay (00:50):
And what did you, what kind of a farm was it? Was there any poultry on the farm or dairy cattle?

Fred Jerome (00:54):
Yes. There were both dairy cattle and poultry were specialties on the farm and I had sort of initiated the poultry and had charge of it for ten, seven or eight years while I was at home. And I guess I got my first liking for poultry during that time.

Ross Hay (01:25):
And how many hens would you have in the farm at that time?

Fred Jerome (01:28):
Oh, we ran the flock about 300 laying hens.

Ross Hay (01:33):
Would that be a big flock at that time?

Fred Jerome (01:35):
Well, quite large for a farm, yes. They were of the Leghorn type, and the egg-laying type. At the last, originally we had a few Barred Rocks.

Ross Hay (01:58):
Who or what persuaded you to come to OAC?

Fred Jerome (02:03):
Well, I guess I persuaded myself in the start. I wanted a college education if I could get it somewhere. The family weren't affluent wealth at all and so OAC was one I had in mind, and as soon as he found that I was interested, our Agriculture Representative W. G. Merritt promoted the association and as a matter of fact, he took me to Guelph to register for the OAC course.

Ross Hay (02:50):
It's great work on that for an alumni to do that. What was the cost of the board and room at OAC and your fees?

Fred Jerome (03:06):
Well, the board and room ran about $6 a week. The fees were $20 per semester and there were two semesters in the college year.

Ross Hay (03:22):
That was quite reasonable, but money was scarce. What year was that? What year did you start here?

Fred Jerome (03:28):
I started in 1929, the fall of 1929.

Ross Hay (03:33):
That's just to the time of the crash.

Fred Jerome (03:36):
That's right.

Ross Hay (03:37):

Fred Jerome (03:39):
And money was scarce, as you say, Ross.

Ross Hay (03:43):
I know that you have a PhD. Where did you obtain this degree?

Fred Jerome (03:49):
I obtain obtained that degree in Ithaca, New York at Cornell University. At that time, our president was Dr. McLaughlin. I had previously got a master's degree at the University of Toronto, and I started to work at Guelph on the staff and Dr. McLaughlin at that time wanted to raise the academic level of the faculty and he allowed me to go away on for a year and a half to take my doctor's degree at my regular pay, which was a great help to me.

Ross Hay (04:48):
Yeah. Wonderful. And you obtained your doctor's degree in a year and a half. That's really something for...

Fred Jerome (04:56):
Well, I had previously taken some courses here at Guelph and I was given the maximum credits when I went over to Cornell.

Ross Hay (05:09):
Yes. And was that doctor's degree in poultry genetics?

Fred Jerome (05:17):
Genetics and Animal Breeding, which of course included the poultry.

Ross Hay (05:24):
Yes. Who were the heads of the Poultry Department when... And I call it Poultry Department, I know today it is Animal and Poultry Science...

Fred Jerome (05:35):

Ross Hay (05:36):
... when you were there?

Fred Jerome (05:38):
Well, the first head was Dr. W. R. Graham and he was instrumental in getting me lined up for a master's degree at Toronto. At that time, the college acted as the faculty of agriculture for the University of Toronto and through his connection and the fellowship he was able to get for me, I went on and took my master's down at the Department of Zoology in Toronto, the academic work, while I did my thesis work project here at the Poultry Department in Guelph.

Ross Hay (06:36):
And who else would it be?

Fred Jerome (06:39):
Oh, following Dr. Graham, Dr. Marcellus was the next head of department. And following him, Professor Ross Cavers...

Ross Hay (06:53):

Fred Jerome (06:54):
... was the head. With Professor Cavers, when relinquished the head of department, we were amalgamated then with the Department of Animal Science. Previous to that, we'd done a separate Poultry Science department.

Ross Hay (07:14):
Right. Now we'll go back a little ways. In your first year at Guelph was there any hazing when you started? Or perhaps I should say initiation.

Fred Jerome (07:29):
Yes. There had been a hazing before that, which was publicized and looked down as being too severe. But we had rather an interesting initiation... the second year blindfolded us and they came in front of us with a dish and they us they were going to feed us our fish eyes. And it turned out that this was a sort of a Sego preparation, but they had put cod oil in it and you could well imagine when you were blindfolded that you were eating fish eyes. That's one in particular I remember. Others, I had seen other initiations taking place where the boys were set at the table blindfolded and they had to feed each other and it turned out that the feed had lamp lacquer or the food had lamp lacquer or something in it and they were quite a picture when they finished the meal.

Ross Hay (09:03):
You told me earlier about asking me about Art Douglas and Art has told me about the flag. Was that on in your time?

Fred Jerome (09:14):
Yes, and I remember the boy that won it and I can't just recall his name, but he was the college blacksmith's son and I have a picture of him over the hedge, the other he'd been pushed up and he was just grabbing the flag.

Ross Hay (09:33):
That was a crazy thing. He was taking the flag away from the sophomores.

Fred Jerome (09:40):
Yes. He was climbed, they hung it on a pole and then they protected it, the sophomores did.

Ross Hay (09:46):

Fred Jerome (09:47):
But the freshman had reared him up, pushed him and reared him up high enough that he could reach the flag and tear it down. So that year, the freshmen captured the flag.

Ross Hay (10:01):
That must have been quite a sight.

Fred Jerome (10:01):

Ross Hay (10:04):
Fred, we know that you have accomplished a great deal in your working days. One of the things I know about is your work in developing the Shaver 288 bird. Now you can tell us a little bit about that and I'd be interested in anything else that you have.

Fred Jerome (10:30):

Ross Hay (10:30):
We would be.

Fred Jerome (10:32):
I didn't have a great deal initially to do with the 288, but Mr. Shaver had got some stock from us, some inbred strains, which he used. So I imagine there might be a bit of that blood in the stock, but when I... Mr. Shaver already had a man from Cornell, Dr. Cole that sort of advised him on the 288. I was put pretty much on Broiler stock where color genetics was a requirement to be exercised. So for the most part, I advised him and traveled for him in regard to his Broiler population.

Ross Hay (11:43):
Let's see. Is there anything else about OAC or your life that you wish to tell us?

Fred Jerome (11:52):
Well, I have a great feeling for OAC and all the boys and friends I made here and I often thought that we were such a fraternity compared to some college populations. That was amazing. And it always seemed to me that if you ever struck a fellow student from or graduate from Guelph, he would always help you all he could. On the other hand, you felt obliged to him, to help him in any way you could. And whether it was due to the fact that we were in residence together, it seemed we made very, very close friends while we were here, students. And that continued on after we were graduated.

Ross Hay (13:05):
Thanks very much, Fred. Now, with your permission, you have given me a letter here that I know was put in the Guelph Sentinel, A Senior of Interest, and it relates to you Dr. Fred Jerome, you have another initial N, what does that stand?

Fred Jerome (13:27):
Yeah. Nelson.

Ross Hay (13:29):
Fredrick Nelson Jerome. And I'd like to read that off and put it on tape because I think it tells better than you or I could have. It's excellent done by Carrie Fisk.

Fred Jerome (13:43):
Well, it tells about my life here in Guelph, quite an extent of it. Anyway, go on.

Ross Hay (13:46):

Ross Hay (13:59):
"The charming, warm personality radiates from the Senior of Interest Fred Jerome, 299 Edinburgh Road South. And the longer you visit with him, the more evident it becomes that behind the twinkle in his eye, there is a keen mind at work. This is born out by the fact that from a young lad raised in a farm at Mount Hope, Wentworth County, where dairy cattle and poultry were the main sources of income, to the exalted position of Professor of Genetics at the Ontario Agricultural College on his retirement date in 1972.

Ross Hay (14:41):
Poultry seemed to hold his interest from early days when as a young fellow, money was scarce, as he turned to this enterprise to help himself to education, and further studies in this field seem to call him. What more fitting place to pursue this tendency towards scientific agriculture than at the Ontario Agricultural College, particularly when the board and room was $6 per week and the fee per semester was $20, which would mean $40 a year, so that with his astute mind at work, he was able to pay most of those dues from his work during the summer months. Not content with graduating, from graduation from OAC, Fred took a master's degree in Genetics and Animal Breeding and for some 10 years, he was employed as Geneticist and Breeding Clock Supervisor for Fred Bray Hatcheries.

Ross Hay (15:42):
Always on the lookout for competent staff members, OAC saw his capabilities and he was hired as Professor of Genetics and Plant and Breeding in poultry science, where he remained, even after it amalgamated with Animal Science. Thus, you will realize poultry science has played a very important part in his life and his consulting services have taken him to every inhabited continent in the world except Africa.

Ross Hay (16:19):
Yes, I think we could say he is a world traveler as even now travel is a very commonplace word in his life. He has had 17 graduate students take master or PhD degrees, the majority now employed in universities or research institutions. And so we find that our senior not only learned a lot in this, his chosen field, but he passed it on to others as well. Fred recalls his early years when he played baseball in the City of Hamilton teams, when he curled at the Guelph Curling Club and bowled at the Guelph Lawn Bowling club. As one would expect, not only did he participate, but also he served when he could. And this entailed six seasons of directing the within club bowling tournaments and a fine job he did.

Ross Hay (17:17):
He regrets that presently, he is unable to participate in active sports, but the love of the same still predominates his leisure hours via TV. He served as clerk of session at Harcourt United Church for eight years and now is a member of Dublin United Church. Also, he acted on the visitation section of the Distress Center for five years and as a member of the Guelph Wellington Men's Club for the past 10 years, watching it grow from 35 seniors to over 200.

Ross Hay (17:52):
1975 was a very important year in our senior's life. As that was when he married Faye Farrier. Both their former beloved spouses had passed away and now with Fred's son and daughter, David and Barbara, and Faye's two sons, Leslie and Vernon, they are blessed with a total of eight grandchildren who bring much joy to their lives.

Ross Hay (18:15):
Due to an interest in art which many of you recall reading about a short time ago, our senior has helped with the development of the University Art Collection, portions of which are often displayed at the McDonald Stewart Art Center. And hence it is about natural that this fall finds Fred taking the oil painting course for the seniors at the Dale High Center. Add to this his hobby, his great interest in finance, and we learn that he has been financial advisor to a number of seniors, his motto being 'good financial return from safe securities.' And so with this sound advice and a happy smile, we leave our Senior of Interest with the hope that good things will happen in the days ahead." End of.

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