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George R. McGowan

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8am - 10pm

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Graduation Year

1947

College

OVC

Interview Date

Interviewer

P. Ide

Call Number

RE1 UOG A1340147

Audio

George R. McGowan interview

Transcript

Peter Ide (00:02):
Hi. I'm sitting here with Dr. George McGowan to talk, uh, uh, about some of, uh, some of the aspects of George- George's, uh, life, uh, professional life. And, um, I- I guess we'll just start. George, you graduated from OVC in?

George R. McGowan (00:19):
1947.

Peter Ide (00:19):
Okay. And, okay, wha- what was your sort of background before you went into that school?

George R. McGowan (00:27):
I was raised, uh, with ponies. My father was born and raised in Scotland and then he was a pony man and we always had ponies. And when I was seven years old ... I don't know if you've ever heard of George Carrance. Heard?

Peter Ide (00:42):
Yes, yes.

George R. McGowan (00:44):
He came to castrate one of the ponies, and I held the rope and the tail. And as he was leaving, I, curly-headed kid, he patted me on the head and he said, "What are you gonna be when you grow up, young man?" I said, "I'm going to be horse doctor, sir, just like you."

George R. McGowan (01:00):
I didn't meet him again until pony club about five or six years later. He remembered me. And, um, he says, "Still going to be a horse doctor, McGowan?" I said, "Yes, sir, just like you." So in 1943 I was walking down the hall at the vet college. Who's coming the other way? George Carrance. He was on staff at the vet college.

Peter Ide (01:24):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (01:25):
And I met him and he remembered me.

Peter Ide (01:26):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (01:27):
"McGowan," he says, "you're here." I said "Yes, sir, I am here!" (laughs)

Peter Ide (01:31):
Thanks to him.

George R. McGowan (01:31):
(laughs)

Peter Ide (01:31):
Yes, that's really good. Very interesting, yeah.

George R. McGowan (01:34):
Yeah, yeah. Then he all became good friends.

Peter Ide (01:37):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (01:37):
And, uh, he taught horse diseases. That was my main interest in the first place.

Peter Ide (01:42):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (01:43):
And, uh, I'd be sitting at the back of the hall taking notes with my right hand behind my head, and he said, "McGowan, you never take any notes." He was Scottish. He had quite an accent. I said, "Yes, sir, I am." "Oh", he says, "I forgot about that corrie fist of yours." (laughs)

Peter Ide (02:07):
(laughs) And you were explaining to me earlier, George, that that- that word, "corrie fistie," is a Scottish, uh ...

George R. McGowan (02:12):
It's a Scottish expression of a left-handed person.

Peter Ide (02:13):
Left-handed. I ... Which I hadn't heard before.

George R. McGowan (02:15):
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Peter Ide (02:16):
Okay, so that was your sort of background, preliminary, uh, reason that you entered- entered the vet school.

George R. McGowan (02:21):
Yes.

Peter Ide (02:21):
And when you were at the vet school, any sort of, uh, did they stress anything in particular when you were at school, like horse medicine versus cattle?

George R. McGowan (02:29):
Or- or anatomy.

Peter Ide (02:32):
Or bird health as to-

George R. McGowan (02:32):
Uh, specimens are always horses. And then you, later on you dissect a cow. Uh, but I got diverted from a interest in equine practice when I went to work for LeGard. But no, LeGard in Weston, were '23 graduate, and, uh, instead of going just one session with 'em, I did two. Uh, between my second and third year and between my third and fourth year, I spent with him the whole summer. And matter of fact, the second year I was there, he was quite an active in, active in the Lion's Club. He went to the Lion's convention in Boston when he had his appendix out and I ran the practice.

Peter Ide (03:13):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (03:13):
Yeah. I was a (laughs) a non-graduate. I had a practice. Which was trem-

Peter Ide (03:17):
Yeah. Which was quite common then.

George R. McGowan (03:20):
Tremendo- Well, it was quite common, yeah. And, uh, uh, Pinkney was, uh, in- in, uh, Oakville and he was an ex-student of LeGard's. Ken Wells?

Peter Ide (03:30):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (03:31):
Former, uh, director general?

Peter Ide (03:33):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (03:33):
He was an ex-student of LeGard's. Quite prominent people have been students. I felt quite privileged to- to be there. And, uh, that's what sparked my interest in- in the bovine practice.

Peter Ide (03:47):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (03:48):
And, uh, 'cause he was an expert in- in bovine reproduction.

Peter Ide (03:52):
And in those days that was, uh, all- all- all-

George R. McGowan (03:55):
It was all ca-

Peter Ide (03:55):
... cattle country, was on-

George R. McGowan (03:56):
All dairy. Yeah.

Peter Ide (03:56):
Now it's all ...

George R. McGowan (03:57):
Oh, it's all built up now.

Peter Ide (03:58):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (04:00):
Mmm. Like, we- we would do miles and miles and miles every day. Yeah. I did most of the driving.

Peter Ide (04:06):
Okay. Now, um, uh, you were telling me earlier that, uh, what, that, uh, which is something I hadn't heard before and I thought we'd just mention it. When you, after you graduated, it was common to write "4," "T" and "7."

George R. McGowan (04:20):
Yes. Yeah.

Peter Ide (04:21):
Uh, could you just talk about that a bit?

George R. McGowan (04:22):
Well-

Peter Ide (04:22):
'Cause I hadn't heard about that before.

George R. McGowan (04:23):
Um, as graduate student, we were graduates of the University of Toronto. They granted our degrees. Uh, our, yours diploma and mine is completely in Latin.

Peter Ide (04:32):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (04:33):
Which was common for the University of Toronto.

Peter Ide (04:35):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (04:35):
I don't know if it still is or not. And it wasn't till 1964 that the University of Guelph was created. So anybody who graduated before 1964 from the ag- agricultural college or Mac Hall or the vet college graduated from the University of Toronto, and so that it was distinct. Uh, I was '47, so it- it was common to put "4" and just above in between the "T" and then the "7".

Peter Ide (05:06):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (05:06):
And which indicated that we were part of the University of Toronto. I- I thought it was fairly common.

Peter Ide (05:10):
Yeah. No, I- I'd never heard of that before.

George R. McGowan (05:12):
Yeah. Huh.

Peter Ide (05:13):
Um, any outstanding memories of, um, uh, professors at the school when you were, when you were going through? Anybody sort of jumps to mind?

George R. McGowan (05:21):
Um, Macintosh.

Peter Ide (05:22):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (05:23):
Uh, George Carrance. Tricky Vicky.

Peter Ide (05:30):
Never heard of him.

George R. McGowan (05:31):
Bacteriology.

Peter Ide (05:32):
Oh.

George R. McGowan (05:33):
Um, (laughs) uh, who was it in anatomy? Uh ...

Peter Ide (05:39):
It was Valentine when I was there, but ...

George R. McGowan (05:42):
No, it wasn't Valentine. Oh, it- it was, um, uh, who was it? Anyhow, I can remember the first day that Cliff Barker was at the vet college. Uh, he'd been away. He's a '40, '41 graduate or '42, somewhere around that. And he'd been away getting his PhD and all that stuff and he was back.

George R. McGowan (06:00):
And we were having large animal clinic, Macintosh, and he was a big man. Big in a lot of ways, physically quite big too. And Barker came in and, uh, Macintosh said, "Barker!" "Yes, sir." "What's wrong with this heifer?" "Looks like brucellosis." Macintosh said, "Huh." (laughs) That was Macintosh. (laughing)

Peter Ide (06:28):
So was he right? (laughing)

George R. McGowan (06:29):
I don't think so. I don't know. (laughing)

Peter Ide (06:31):
Uh, that's good.

George R. McGowan (06:32):
I know I can remember when, um ... Who was it taught us cattle diseases? And we had to go over to the Aggie barn to treat a cow for milk fever. All of us. And (laughs) I think it was ... Was it Mutter or one of my classmates was standing next to me and he nudged me with his elbow and says, "Don't look now (laughs), but the patient has just died." (laughing)

Peter Ide (07:00):
How many in your class?

George R. McGowan (07:01):
37.

Peter Ide (07:02):
And any girls in your class?

George R. McGowan (07:04):
One girl.

Peter Ide (07:04):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (07:05):
Uh, Althea Burton. She was from out west. And, uh, that was the only one. Um, incidentally, I was looking at the 2004 graduating class-

Peter Ide (07:15):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (07:15):
... just recently. One of the ... And there was 72 girls and 22 boys.

Peter Ide (07:23):
Uh-huh (affirmative). That's a tremendous difference. Yeah.

George R. McGowan (07:26):
Fantastic.

Peter Ide (07:26):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (07:27):
Yeah.

Peter Ide (07:27):
So I- I don't know what the impact's gonna be on large animal practice, you know, if- if ... I don't know if the girls go into that, but they-

George R. McGowan (07:33):
Oh, they do indeed.

Peter Ide (07:33):
They do.

George R. McGowan (07:36):
As a matter of fact, uh, did you ever hear of the Baker Anul- Baker Animal Hospital in Montreal?

Peter Ide (07:39):
Yes. Yes.

George R. McGowan (07:39):
Um, um, Mac Baker was a '50 graduate and his father was a '23 graduate. He was a classmate of LeGard's. And, um, Mac was a ... I leaned on him. When I got stuck, and especially in small animal practice, I was on the phone to Mac and I, right, take the animal down to Montreal. And he was sort of my mentor in small animal practice. So I was essentially just a large animal practitioner.

Peter Ide (08:05):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (08:08):
But the small animal practice was growing. And, uh, his daughter is now a large animal practitioner.

Peter Ide (08:15):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (08:15):
In, uh, Winthrop. Yeah. It's a-

Peter Ide (08:17):
Is-

George R. McGowan (08:20):
'Cause I saw in the Journal that Mac just died just a couple months ago.

Peter Ide (08:24):
Oh. Oh.

George R. McGowan (08:24):
In September.

Peter Ide (08:25):
Okay. Well, time marches on, eh?

George R. McGowan (08:27):
Yeah.

Peter Ide (08:28):
So after you graduated, um, what did you do?

George R. McGowan (08:30):
Well, I spent, uh, five months at the vet college, uh, as a recipient of the Borden Award under Cliff Barker and the preservation of bovine semen.

Peter Ide (08:38):
Because you had done very well at school.

George R. McGowan (08:39):
Yeah. I- I won the medal too.

Peter Ide (08:41):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (08:42):
Um, I was third in the class, so I did very well.

Peter Ide (08:44):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (08:45):
There were eight of us in the first class on the [crosstalk].

Peter Ide (08:48):
And the Borden Award was for, uh ...

George R. McGowan (08:50):
Efficiency and proficiency in- in bovine problems.

Peter Ide (08:53):
Bovine problems. Okay.

George R. McGowan (08:54):
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And that was my, at that time was my main interest.

Peter Ide (08:58):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (08:58):
And, uh, so I spent that five months at, under Cliff Barker and investigating the preservation of bo- bovine semen at the time. And, uh, sort of a- a treat for me at the end of that session was the Canadian National Exhibition and I was Elsie, the Borden cow's personal physician. (laughs) It was-

Peter Ide (09:20):
It was pretty good.

George R. McGowan (09:20):
And you remember her calf's name?

Peter Ide (09:23):
No.

George R. McGowan (09:24):
You remember her bull's name?

Peter Ide (09:26):
No.

George R. McGowan (09:26):
Elmer the bull?

Peter Ide (09:27):
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Sure.

George R. McGowan (09:29):
Yeah. And the calf was Beauregard.

Peter Ide (09:30):
Oh. (laughs)

George R. McGowan (09:31):
And they were there. (laughs)

Peter Ide (09:34):
No, I mean, uh, just put us in the picture with regard to freezing semen at that time. Wh- whe- where was the AI industry and so on?

George R. McGowan (09:40):
They didn't freeze it.

Peter Ide (09:41):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (09:42):
It is a preservative.

Peter Ide (09:43):
All right.

George R. McGowan (09:43):
Egg yolk and other antibodies and-

Peter Ide (09:46):
So that was all new work then.

George R. McGowan (09:47):
Yes. New work. Yeah.

Peter Ide (09:49):
And- and when did freezing semen become, uh, a- a commercial type thing?

George R. McGowan (09:54):
Oh, quite a bit, quite a bit later.

Peter Ide (09:55):
Later on. Okay.

George R. McGowan (09:55):
Yeah. Be- before that, uh, before this work was done, when you collected semen, you had to inseminate the cow right away.

Peter Ide (10:04):
All right.

George R. McGowan (10:05):
And, but using the preservatives, we were able to delay the preservation and keep it for a week or 10 days.

Peter Ide (10:12):
I see. Okay. And expand it, I suppose.

George R. McGowan (10:12):
And expand it, yes. Uh-huh (affirmative). Yes.

Peter Ide (10:14):
Um, okay. So you- you worked at the vet school for five months after graduation.

George R. McGowan (10:19):
Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Peter Ide (10:20):
And- and then- then what?

George R. McGowan (10:23):
Uh, well, my father had been invalided out of the Air Force at that time, so he was sort of between jobs. So we decided that, uh, we'd looked around the province and there was a practice opportunity opening up at Cornwall. It had ne- never been fully served by a practicing veterinarian, so my father and my mother and my young brother, Douglas, he was born in 1933, went down with me and we bought a house in opened a practice and the rest is sort of history. And ...

Peter Ide (10:58):
Now, uh, uh, uh, uh, was there a practice there already? You started a practice.

George R. McGowan (11:03):
I started a practice.

Peter Ide (11:05):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (11:05):
Yeah.

Peter Ide (11:05):
And, uh, that was-

George R. McGowan (11:05):
There had been a practice there, but, uh, he had to sell insurance to make a living.

Peter Ide (11:10):
And ...

George R. McGowan (11:11):
And there had been another practice prior to that, uh, and he had to have coal company bolster his own practice.

Peter Ide (11:19):
So it was pretty slim pickings then too.

George R. McGowan (11:20):
It was, um, sure it was.

Peter Ide (11:22):
And, uh-

George R. McGowan (11:23):
Something unique.

Peter Ide (11:23):
... wh- why did you select that area then? I, but presumably there must've been lots of other areas that were more lucrative.

George R. McGowan (11:29):
I did, I did this on the advice of some of the professors at the University. Cliff Barker was one of the main ones. And originally, I'd looked at Oshawa.

Peter Ide (11:37):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (11:39):
But he convinced me that with my limited experience, Oshawa might be too big a mountain to climb.

Peter Ide (11:44):
I see.

George R. McGowan (11:47):
And he suggested that a smaller community like Cornwall could be a better place for me to break in, might [crosstalk] veterinary.

Peter Ide (11:51):
Now were there, were there subsidized practices in those days for ... 'Cause when I graduated there was a pra- for some of the guys who went north, for example, were into subsidized practices.

George R. McGowan (12:04):
No, that came quite a bit later.

Peter Ide (12:05):
Later on. Okay.

George R. McGowan (12:05):
And only in the north.

Peter Ide (12:07):
I see.

George R. McGowan (12:07):
Yeah.

Peter Ide (12:09):
Okay. Um, so this was mainly, uh, uh, when you, when you started this- this, uh, practice, you- you were mainly dairy cattle. Is that at-

George R. McGowan (12:16):
Yeah. Yeah.

Peter Ide (12:16):
... all dairy and beef?

George R. McGowan (12:16):
There no ... Mainly dairy.

Peter Ide (12:18):
'Cause we were a large, uh, cheese factory area.

George R. McGowan (12:20):
Okay.

Peter Ide (12:20):
And, uh, as a matter of fact, most of the cattle, it was a limited, uh, urban supply of milk with no feed around. But most of the cattle went dry before Christmas.

George R. McGowan (12:34):
I see.

Peter Ide (12:34):
And then they started freshening again, February, March. And it's January, February, March. So the winters, early winters were rather flat, but as soon as they start calving, oh (laughs) it was night and day.

George R. McGowan (12:47):
It was ... Why did they dry them off before Christmas? You said, a- a- a feed war?

Peter Ide (12:50):
Matter of economics.

George R. McGowan (12:51):
Economics.

Peter Ide (12:52):
Yeah. The cows went dry, so why bother milking them then?

Mabel McGowan (12:55):
The climate was [inaudible] harming [inaudible].

Peter Ide (12:57):
You always dried them out.

George R. McGowan (12:58):
Yeah.

Peter Ide (12:58):
But, um, uh, presumably, it wasn't a great market for- for the milk then?

George R. McGowan (13:02):
Just the cheese factory.

Mabel McGowan (13:04):
Cheese factory.

Peter Ide (13:04):
Yeah. Yeah. Okay.

George R. McGowan (13:06):
There were, there were some small dairies in town to supply the local need.

Peter Ide (13:10):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (13:10):
There were about five or six of them. But now there isn't one. All the milk is brought in from outside.

Peter Ide (13:17):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (13:18):
And, uh, uh, between Cornwall and Lancaster, which is 15 miles along the St. Lawrence River going in an easterly direction, from the Cornwall city limits to Lancaster, there were cattle on every hundred acres. Every hundred acres, without exception. Now I think there are three farmers in that 15 miles direction with cattle.

Peter Ide (13:44):
Wow.

George R. McGowan (13:44):
Just completely changed.

Peter Ide (13:46):
Yeah. So there must've been a tremendous, uh, uh, demand for cheese in those days then.

George R. McGowan (13:53):
Mostly Canadian cheddar was world-wide.

Peter Ide (13:55):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (13:55):
And won prizes all over the world.

Peter Ide (13:57):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (13:58):
And in eastern Ontario, we had, uh, world champion cheese makers. Uh, in Finch, in Chesterville, um, Cornwall. North of Cornwall it was cheese factory just about every concession, and, uh, they were world-famous.

Peter Ide (14:17):
I mean, that would be an interesting story just in itself. The- the rise and fall of the cheese industry. (laughs)

George R. McGowan (14:22):
Cheese industry, yeah.

Peter Ide (14:23):
In North America and in all Ontario.

George R. McGowan (14:23):
Now you've got, what, Balderson's about it.

Peter Ide (14:23):
Yeah.

Mabel McGowan (14:23):
There's one at [inaudible].

Peter Ide (14:26):
Yeah, it's amazing.

George R. McGowan (14:31):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Peter Ide (14:32):
I- I was talking to an older farmer up around Mamsek the other day.

George R. McGowan (14:35):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Peter Ide (14:35):
And he was ... You know, they produce cheese and probably, uh, milk for cheese.

George R. McGowan (14:38):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). For a cheese factory.

Peter Ide (14:39):
Yeah. So it was very... Okay.

Mabel McGowan (14:41):
Two miles apart.

George R. McGowan (14:41):
Yeah.

Peter Ide (14:42):
Yeah. That's so that the intensity [crosstalk].

George R. McGowan (14:44):
Yeah. Yeah. Just about every concession had a cheese factory. Very interesting.

Peter Ide (14:48):
Yeah. Hmm. Um, um, okay, so then you- you were in practice.

George R. McGowan (14:51):
Yeah.

Peter Ide (14:52):
And, um, just continue then. What- what ...

George R. McGowan (14:55):
Well, um, I was in practice for ... From, uh, October of '47 I went into practice. And then the next year I met my future wife and in 1950, we were married. And we had a child. By the next year there was one- one baby and I think another one on the way. And 1952 was a red-letter year. Do you remember what happened in 1953?

Mabel McGowan (15:22):
Roddy was born in '51 and Jeanie was [crosstalk]-

George R. McGowan (15:26):
Jeanie was born in '53.

Mabel McGowan (15:26):
Yeah.

Peter Ide (15:26):
'52 I was still living overseas.

George R. McGowan (15:29):
Ever hear of foot and mouth disease?

Peter Ide (15:30):
Yes. Oh, of course. Out in Saskatchewan.

George R. McGowan (15:33):
Yeah.

Peter Ide (15:33):
Yes.

George R. McGowan (15:34):
Yeah. And I was doing a fair amount of export testing for cattle going to the United States, and the day that foot and mouth was discovered in Saskatchewan, the value of a cow went from $600 to about $200.

Peter Ide (15:48):
Mmm.

George R. McGowan (15:49):
And I've seen these sending offers in the month of October that year and the next year and for three days the flame wouldn't... I got a [inaudible], so ...

Peter Ide (16:00):
So, uh, you know, that's a very important point because although the outbreak was in Saskatchewan, the impact was, uh, right across the country.

George R. McGowan (16:05):
I can, I can just imagine what's going on right now.

Peter Ide (16:07):
Yeah. With PSE. Yeah.

George R. McGowan (16:08):
With this mad cow disease that, uh, it's probably knocked the piss out of people.

Peter Ide (16:11):
It's the same thing. Yeah.

George R. McGowan (16:13):
[crosstalk] general practice as well. 'Cause they can't sell their cows.

Peter Ide (16:15):
Right.

George R. McGowan (16:15):
Mable's brother has a farm. You can't see ... It's got, what? 250 head of cattle? And beef cattle. And there's no market for 'em.

Peter Ide (16:22):
Yeah. Okay. So- so okay. So you were sitting in practice. Things dropped tremendously.

George R. McGowan (16:29):
Yes.

Peter Ide (16:29):
Then what happened?

George R. McGowan (16:30):
Well, the next ... You ever hear of the St. Lawrence Seaway?

Peter Ide (16:34):
Yes.

George R. McGowan (16:35):
Okay. Uh, between Cornwall and Morrisburg, it's about 25 miles. The, uh, that was my main area for practice. Three concessions along the river, that was where I spent most of my time. I seemed to go through the village of Wales five times in one day.

Peter Ide (16:52):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (16:52):
And weekends were no exception. And when the St. Lawrence Seaway came through, the flooding flooded half my practice. And that was another. And I didn't get any compensation for that whatsoever.

Peter Ide (17:06):
Wow.

George R. McGowan (17:07):
None what ... Not a nickel.

Peter Ide (17:08):
I see.

George R. McGowan (17:09):
And it, but it cut the practice in half.

Peter Ide (17:11):
Right.

George R. McGowan (17:12):
Fortunately, Cornwall was growing at the time and there was room for a small animal practice. So I practiced out of my house and the big ... I'd do country calls in the morning. In the afternoon, I'd do office calls and surgery and surgery and office calls in the evening.

George R. McGowan (17:31):
And by 1970, I decided that all, with all the calvings and the prolapses and the afterbirths and everything else, my shoulders started to give out on me. And I have a bursitis and I had to give up. Besides, the Seaway had flooded half the practice there. So I build a small animal hospital and-

Peter Ide (17:58):
In?

George R. McGowan (17:58):
In Cornwall.

Peter Ide (17:58):
Cornwall.

George R. McGowan (17:59):
Right next ... I bought the land right next to my house, and the chairman of the planning board was a good [inaudible] buddy of mine, and he used his influence with the planning board to get me a building permit.

Peter Ide (18:10):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (18:11):
And I built the small animal hospital. Put every nickel I had in the world into it. (laughs) Um, spent over $100,000, which I didn't have. I borrowed from the bank.

Peter Ide (18:25):
Big decision, huh?

George R. McGowan (18:27):
Big. I was 52 years old.

Peter Ide (18:28):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (18:29):
And, uh, and, uh, that was in '77. Yeah, 1977 I built the hospital.

Peter Ide (18:35):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (18:37):
And, uh, uh, I figured it would take me five years to pay for it. But we ran into intr- ... It was a demand loan.

Peter Ide (18:46):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (18:46):
And I ran in high in- high interest rates.

Peter Ide (18:49):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (18:50):
At one point I was paying 24% on the money. The first day of every month, the bank took $1,300 out of my account, and at one point, it was $50 on the principal and $1,250 interest.

Peter Ide (19:02):
Incredible.

George R. McGowan (19:02):
Yeah.

Peter Ide (19:08):
And I suppose at the same time, because times were generally tough, people were more reluctant to bring animals in for treatments.

George R. McGowan (19:14):
Oh, no. It was the best thing I ever did for-

Peter Ide (19:15):
Was it?

George R. McGowan (19:18):
Oh, yes. Um, I, uh, I figured it would take me five years to pay for it.

Peter Ide (19:21):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (19:22):
But in reality and because of this high interest, it took me seven years. I paid it off in seven years.

Peter Ide (19:26):
That's very good.

George R. McGowan (19:27):
And I was alone in the practice, so I was doing ... I went to the bank to get money from this, for this project. And the bank manager, Sully, personal friend of mine, he was new in town at the time. He looked at me and he said, uh, "How are you gonna pay it back?" Which I thought was rather rude.

Peter Ide (19:46):
(laughs) Uh-huh (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (19:47):
I'd followed this many times. And, uh, borrowed $100,000 and I said, "Well, you know, I'm doing $70,000 a year in practice now, and I've been told that by building a- an animal hospital, you're going to increase your- your volume by quite a substantial amount." I said, "If I increase it by 25 or 30%, I'll be very, very happy." I didn't increase it by 25 or 30%. I increased by over 50%.

George R. McGowan (20:20):
And, uh, I was alone in the practice and I went from that $70,000 the first year, first year in the animal hospital, it was $140,000 and it just kept going up. And I was alone in the practice doing, what, virtually turned out to be two and a half practices all by myself. I had two technicians, graduates from the, um, Western, Ontario and near- near London. What is the London? Where was the-

Peter Ide (20:49):
Ridgetown? Ridgetown, was it?

George R. McGowan (20:56):
Not Ridgetown, no. A young man and young lady, they were with me.

Peter Ide (21:01):
Yeah. Okay.

George R. McGowan (21:01):
And, uh-

Peter Ide (21:01):
Animal technical trained, yeah.

George R. McGowan (21:02):
Animal technical trained. Yeah. Trained technicians. And they both ... We- we formed a limited company.

Peter Ide (21:05):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (21:07):
And at that point, I was able to pay my wife a salary, which I couldn't do before.

Peter Ide (21:10):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (21:11):
And she became a, uh, an- an employee of the company. Mabel did all the books.

Peter Ide (21:15):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (21:16):
And, uh, the first year in practice (laughs) uh, because of the, uh, expenses that one, were incurred, I pay, I made less money that year than I paid in tax the year before.

Peter Ide (21:32):
Mmm.

George R. McGowan (21:33):
So as a consequence of that, the bells rang in Ottawa.

Peter Ide (21:37):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (21:38):
And after I'd sent in my first year's income tax next year, the phone rang and "they're coming down to do a general audit of your account." And this very nice inspector arrived and he sat in my office for a week, just leafed through papers, leafed through papers. And he found, though, that everything was just too above-board.

Peter Ide (21:58):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (22:03):
And then so that he could justify the- the trip, he said, "I think we'll go back a few years." So they went back into the accounts. I had all the books, the previous five years, and he found out that I had one problem: I couldn't add. So they assessed me about $5,000 in back taxes and fines. And, uh, I, when my accountant found out about this, he said, uh, "Do you think we should appeal that, George?" I said, "Don't touch it. Leave it alone." (laughs)

Peter Ide (22:36):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (22:37):
They may even dig deeper. (laughs)

Peter Ide (22:42):
Yeah. Yeah.

George R. McGowan (22:42):
And, uh, so-

Peter Ide (22:45):
Just leave those alone.

George R. McGowan (22:46):
Yeah. Let them, let them alone. But- but from then on, it was just a... At the end of that first year, I hired my first associate. Uh, he was a '70, '78 graduate. Fergis Alexander. He practice in Kamloops, British Columbia now. And, uh, he was with me for 15 months.

George R. McGowan (23:03):
And then we were doing about two and a half practices between and then he [inaudible] and he decided that he wanted to go to British Columbia. Well, he getting lots of [inaudible] and lots of [inaudible]. But I started looking for an associate then.

Peter Ide (23:19):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (23:21):
But another associate, and it took me, uh, about six months to find him. I was alone for three months, so ... And practice kept going up. I worked night and day.

George R. McGowan (23:33):
And there was a young lady from Vankleek Hill. She was a '74 graduate, I think. Valerie Harrison. Her husband was a Air Canada pilot. And she'd be working in, uh, Donny, uh, this practice in Vankleek Hill, and she got pregnant and had to give up her job, and by the time she was ready to go back to work, he'd hired somebody else.

George R. McGowan (24:00):
So she was able to come in, a part-time basis, and give me a hand. And that was, that's 25 years ago thereabouts. And she's still assoc- associated with the practice. Uh, and, uh, doing a, she does a bang-up job for me.

Peter Ide (24:15):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (24:15):
And gave me little chance to so- salvage some of my sanity.

Peter Ide (24:20):
Yes, yeah.

George R. McGowan (24:21):
And, uh, then Peter Tropea joined me. He's a '79 graduate. And, uh, he was with me for four years and then he decided he wanted a practice of his own, and he looked around and looked around and he couldn't find anything that pleased him, that he could trust.

George R. McGowan (24:44):
And by this time, my mother, my father had passed away in '69. Mother wasn't doing well in Toronto, and so I, Mabel and I moved her to Cornwall. She was in a nursing home in Cornwall. No, she was still in Toronto. That's right. Yeah. She was still in Toronto, and I had to look after her. And I couldn't leave a busy practice and run to Toronto at the drop of a hat.

Peter Ide (25:09):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes.

George R. McGowan (25:10):
So I said to Peter, "I can't fool ya on this practice. Make me an offer and maybe we can come to some agreement," 'cause I knew I was gonna have to look after Mother.

Peter Ide (25:18):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (25:18):
I was only 79 years old. And, uh, he did and we came to an agreement and he bought the ... Took him five years to buy the- the practice and then he bought the hospital, subject to appraisal. And, uh, that was, uh, how we had to get out of it.

Peter Ide (25:33):
That's very good.

George R. McGowan (25:36):
And I brought Mother to Cornwall and put her in a nursing home eventually.

Peter Ide (25:42):
So that, what year was that when you finally sold your practice? That was ...

George R. McGowan (25:42):
'84.

Peter Ide (25:45):
'84. Okay. And then what did you do after- after ...

George R. McGowan (25:47):
Well, I sort of, uh, played golf. And then, uh, I heard that ... Oh, I had to look after my mother's house in Toronto and my daughter, oldest daughter, was working there so she and her husband rented the house. And then I heard that-

Mabel McGowan (26:03):
Don't forget my brother. He dropped dead.

Peter Ide (26:03):
Oh. Oh.

George R. McGowan (26:06):
Yeah. I mean, oh, my brother died in my arms at least age 40.

Peter Ide (26:10):
Oh my god.

George R. McGowan (26:11):
Yeah. Well, he was with the Canadian Radio and Television. And the CRTC.

Peter Ide (26:18):
Yes.

George R. McGowan (26:20):
He was a graduate of Bryerson in te- radio and television arts.

Peter Ide (26:25):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (26:26):
And, uh, Mother cried for seven years-

Peter Ide (26:28):
Mmm.

George R. McGowan (26:29):
... over Douglas' death.

Peter Ide (26:30):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I'm sure.

George R. McGowan (26:30):
Then she put it out of her mind, and everything else.

Peter Ide (26:37):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (26:38):
She was in a blank...

Peter Ide (26:38):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (26:39):
Anyhow, um, I heard that the College of Veterinarians over Ontario Veterinarian's Association at that time was looking for a practice inspector. So I applied. I got the job.

Peter Ide (26:53):
And how long had it been that, between the time you retired?

George R. McGowan (26:57):
About three years.

Peter Ide (26:58):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (26:58):
Yeah. Was it three years? Yeah.

Peter Ide (27:04):
So you became an inspector for the OVA.

George R. McGowan (27:06):
OVA. Yes, Ontario Veterinary Association.

Peter Ide (27:09):
And how long did you do that work?

George R. McGowan (27:10):
Five years.

Peter Ide (27:10):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (27:12):
And it was a part-time basis.

Peter Ide (27:13):
Big area, George, yes?

George R. McGowan (27:14):
Well, I did from, uh, Yonge Street in Toronto south of Steele, south of Steeles to just west of Burlington near Hamilton. And there about close to 200 practices in there. It was only on a part-time basis and I really enjoyed it.

Peter Ide (27:32):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (27:33):
And I made my mother's old house in Toronto my base. My daughter was living there, so-

Peter Ide (27:39):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (27:39):
... we'd go up and visit with her, the kids and- and, uh, then, oh, I can't remember the fellow's name who was doing the Cornwall area. He- he retired, so they asked me if I'd like to take that on. So it was-

Peter Ide (27:55):
As well as the other one?

George R. McGowan (27:56):
As well as the other. Yeah, it was nice. It was fine. Sure.

Peter Ide (27:58):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (27:59):
And, uh, it was from Quebec Quarter and a few in Quebec to the other side of Kingston.

Peter Ide (28:04):
Gee.

George R. McGowan (28:05):
And north as far as, uh, oh, Pembroke and, uh, area.

Peter Ide (28:09):
That's a big area.

George R. McGowan (28:11):
Big area. So all in all, there were about 350 practices in- in those area.

Peter Ide (28:15):
Well. Large animal and small animal?

George R. McGowan (28:16):
Large and small, yeah. And, uh, and I think I told you earlier what a grand bunch of people.

Peter Ide (28:20):
Yes.

George R. McGowan (28:20):
The, uh-

Peter Ide (28:20):
Just talk a bit more about that.

George R. McGowan (28:23):
The, uh, such a ... I- I was so proud of those people.

Peter Ide (28:27):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (28:27):
Uh, I only met what I considered to be two bad apples in the, in the whole crowd.

Peter Ide (28:33):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (28:34):
And, uh, I used to tell people, "The residents of Ontario don't know how lucky they are to have such a dedicated group of people serving their animals." It was just fantastic.

Peter Ide (28:42):
Oh.

George R. McGowan (28:44):
I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, uh, uh, in the summer of 1991 after doing this, it wasn't ... Must've been 76 when I got the job 'cause I'd been at it for five years. And, uh, my heart gave out on me and I had, uh, bad time with my heart. Angiogram and two angioplasties, cardiac arrest, and eventually the quadruple bypass open surgery in- in, uh, the heart as to the problem. And I've been fine ever since.

Peter Ide (29:18):
Yeah, that's really something. Yeah.

George R. McGowan (29:19):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Peter Ide (29:22):
Um, uh, oh, and after you recovered from your heart problems-

George R. McGowan (29:26):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Peter Ide (29:26):
... um, you've been fully retired since then. Have you-

George R. McGowan (29:29):
Yes, yes. Yeah.

Peter Ide (29:30):
But you still stay active in terms of exercising and things like this and getting around. Oh, you've got a pedometer on. Yeah, yep. That's good.

George R. McGowan (29:41):
I've got a pedometer on [crosstalk].

Peter Ide (29:41):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (29:43):
Ninety, hundred miles a month.

Peter Ide (29:46):
Yeah? Great.

George R. McGowan (29:47):
Yep.

Peter Ide (29:47):
Now, in addition to all your, um, professional work, George-

George R. McGowan (29:51):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Peter Ide (29:51):
... you- you were, you were saying earlier you were a member of the Kiwanis and so on.

George R. McGowan (29:54):
Kinsmen.

Peter Ide (29:55):
Oh, sorry. Kinsmen, yeah.

George R. McGowan (29:56):
Watch that.

Peter Ide (29:56):
Yeah. (laughing) Big mistake. (laughing) So, uh-

George R. McGowan (30:01):
Yeah. Yeah. I joined, I joined the Kinsmen Club in 1948, and I became a life member ... Well, at that time, it was, the age limit was 40. Once you got to be 40, you became a K-40 and you're- you're no longer allowed to hold office. And- and we were affiliated with the World Council, young men's service clubs, um, Round Table in most of the world and Apex in Australia. And, uh, we were privileged to attend quite a few conferences, international conferences in that capacity.

Peter Ide (30:34):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (30:35):
First one was Eastbourne in the south of England, and then we found out then ... We still recording?

Peter Ide (30:42):
Yep.

George R. McGowan (30:45):
We found that then that there was a trip to South Africa being offered by Round Table South Africa, and so we took advantage of that. And I was still practicing at the time. So that was in '72. I hadn't built the hospital yet. And, uh, we took off the first of March. We were away for six weeks. We flew from Montreal to New York, New York to Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro to, uh, São, uh, to São Paulo in Brazil. Visited Round Table clubs there and flew back to the Rio and did the sightseeing, the Corcovado and then, and the Co- Cocapago- Copacabana Beach at [crosstalk].

Peter Ide (31:29):
Yep, yep.

George R. McGowan (31:32):
And then we flew from there to Johannesburg on VARIG Airlines. And we spent three delightful weeks in South Africa touring as guests of Round Table South Africa. And we stayed with a couple in Johannesburg called Jack and [Merlyn 00:31:49] Curtis, and apparently they'd had a ... They'd hosted Canadians two years because every two years they did this trip. And so they got Mabel and I, and we had a grand time with them. As a matter of fact, they came out here to see us.

Peter Ide (32:06):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (32:07):
Visited us.

Peter Ide (32:07):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (32:08):
And their children have been out to see us. And they both passed away since.

Peter Ide (32:13):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (32:13):
But we got on famously with them, and, uh ... Oh, oh. It was interesting. We were flying after the tour ... It was a three-week tour in the Transvaal and the Kruger Game Park and, uh, up in the Ka- we walked on the Kalahari Desert.

Peter Ide (32:29):
Super.

George R. McGowan (32:30):
It was just a super trip.

Peter Ide (32:31):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (32:32):
A trip of a lifetime.

Peter Ide (32:33):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (32:33):
In- in a bus loop. Uh, one of the te- one of the Round Table of South Africa has taken this holidays, he and his wife. They were our- our tour conductor. And we're the only Canadians on the thing. They were there from, uh, France, uh, Belgium, Sweden, England and we two Canadians. And, uh, oh, everybody got along so famously and, uh, we had a super time. We were hosted in people's homes too.

Peter Ide (33:03):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (33:04):
Yeah. So it was a grand way to-

Peter Ide (33:05):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (33:05):
... meet the country, meet the country.

Peter Ide (33:05):
Yeah. Yeah. Excellent. Yeah.

George R. McGowan (33:05):
And meet the people.

Peter Ide (33:05):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (33:09):
And, uh, even went to the Legion at Mafeking and my grandfather had been in the Boer War, so I just wondered if he'd ever been to Mafeking. (laughs)

Peter Ide (33:16):
Yes, yeah. You didn't see his initials.

George R. McGowan (33:21):
No, no, no, I didn't. (laughs) No.

Peter Ide (33:23):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (33:23):
And, uh, spent three delightful days in Kruger Game Park. And, uh, uh, it's a, it's a sort of as a, as a joke, I did, uh, what I called half a dozen steps of the North- North American Indian Rain Dance. (laughs) We got seven inches of rain. (laughing)

Peter Ide (33:44):
Well, I know you over there. I'll bet-

Mabel McGowan (33:44):
It's just a little rondo, unknown.

George R. McGowan (33:45):
Yeah. They called 'em round dobbles. They're grass structures.

Peter Ide (33:50):
Oh, yes. Little round places.

George R. McGowan (33:52):
Round dobbles, they call 'em.

Peter Ide (33:52):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (33:52):
And, uh ... And, oh, and the mountains there. They call 'em [foreign language].

Peter Ide (33:57):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (33:57):
You know what a [foreign language] is?

Peter Ide (33:59):
No.

George R. McGowan (34:02):
Maiden's breast. It's, you know.

Peter Ide (34:06):
Oh. Yeah, I've seen the word. Yeah. It's very descriptive, huh?

George R. McGowan (34:07):
Yeah. Yeah.

Peter Ide (34:07):
Uh-

George R. McGowan (34:08):
We saw all kinds of game. It's ...

Peter Ide (34:12):
Yeah, that's really ...

George R. McGowan (34:12):
Yeah.

Peter Ide (34:12):
So that was a, that was a-

George R. McGowan (34:12):
And then we- we flew on from there to, uh ... Well, we stopped. I'd been corresponding with a ... I was chairman of a Kinsmen International Auction and we had an auction sale whereby we asked people from all around the world to send us something indigenous to their part of the world. And we sent them a lacrosse stick 'cause Cornwall was-

Peter Ide (34:34):
Yes.

George R. McGowan (34:34):
... the home of the, making lacrosse stick.

Peter Ide (34:34):
Right.

George R. McGowan (34:37):
So we had to make up miniature lacrosse sticks. We sent them all over the world. I was chairman. And we- we did a fantastic job.

Peter Ide (34:44):
Mmm.

George R. McGowan (34:45):
And one of the things that came was from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. It was a statue of a Maasai warrior carved out of ebony about four feet tall, and they auctioned that off. And through that, I corresponded with the fellow who was the corresponding secretary.

Peter Ide (35:04):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (35:04):
And he was, he worked for the Daily Nation newspaper in Dar es Salaam. And his name was Sultan Jessup, and the Daily Nation newspaper was owned by the Aga Khan. And Sultan belonged to this Muslim sect called the, uh, Ismailis, and the head of that Ismaili sect is the Aga Khan. And he owned the newspaper there and he also owned one in- in Nairobi, the king did.

George R. McGowan (35:37):
So on our way from- from Johannesburg to Nairobi, we got off the plane in- in, uh, Dar es Salaam, and as we were walking towards the terminal, Mabel says, "Feel the heat from that aircraft." I said, "Mabel, that's not the aircraft. That's this place."

Peter Ide (35:55):
Mmm.

George R. McGowan (35:56):
We're right on the Equator.

Peter Ide (35:56):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (35:58):
Almost at sea level.

Peter Ide (35:58):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (35:59):
And the heat was just [crosstalk].

Peter Ide (36:00):
[inaudible].

George R. McGowan (36:02):
Anyhow, I- I was able to contact, uh, the chairman of the Round Table who's there, but he didn't know where Sultan was. I wanted to talk to him. So when we got to Nairobi, we met other Round Tablers and they're hosting in different homes. Uh, there was...

Peter Ide (36:18):
Right.

George R. McGowan (36:20):
The place we stayed there was, let's see, uh, just family that owned this 2,500 plantation. They- they grew flowers for the European market, macadamia nuts. They had their own landing strip.

Peter Ide (36:36):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (36:36):
And we stayed on their, on their farm.

Peter Ide (36:37):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (36:40):
And, uh, we stayed in the main farmhouse. Huge, big mansion. And the two old maid ... No, they weren't old maids. Was one or two old maids, but the- the widowed mother was there too.

Peter Ide (36:51):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (36:52):
They were our hosts and, uh, her- her son was our host, but we, he put us up in this big house. And at the top of the steps was this big iron gate. This was the center of Mau Mau country that-

Peter Ide (37:02):
Yes.

George R. McGowan (37:06):
... and the big troubles of a few years previous. Anyhow, I happened to have a bottle of Crown Royal with me. I carried it, and, uh, we treated these ladies to a little sip of Crown Royal. And one of 'em said, (laughs) "You must come back again, and the next time bring a full bottle."

Peter Ide (37:25):
(laughing) Oh, that's good. That's something.

George R. McGowan (37:27):
Oh, that was, that was delightful. And then we went on to, uh, Cairo in Egypt, and we stay, we's, we intended to stay four days and only stayed three. We always say, "We spent a month in Cairo one weekend." A joyful place.

Peter Ide (37:42):
Right.

George R. McGowan (37:43):
If you're alone.

Peter Ide (37:43):
Yeah. Yeah.

George R. McGowan (37:44):
If- if anyone ever goes, go with your-

Peter Ide (37:46):
Yeah. What year was that?

George R. McGowan (37:46):
'72. Yeah.

Peter Ide (37:46):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (37:51):
Yeah, yeah. And we enjoyed seeing it, and we were at the Pyramids of Giza.

Peter Ide (37:54):
Yeah?

George R. McGowan (37:54):
And, uh, rode the camels around the pyramids and there's then the Sphinx is there too.

Peter Ide (37:58):
Yes.

Mabel McGowan (37:59):
We stopped at the mosque.

George R. McGowan (37:59):
And the mosque of Muhammad Ali.

Peter Ide (38:00):
Oh. Uh-huh (affirmative).

Mabel McGowan (38:01):
(laughs) [inaudible] the families [inaudible]. He's probably [inaudible].

George R. McGowan (38:04):
(laughing) Mabel was on a ca-

Peter Ide (38:08):
Last day seeing you too.

George R. McGowan (38:09):
... was on a camel named Daisy and Daisy had fleas. (laughing)

Peter Ide (38:17):
Well ... (laughs) Okay. And so you, I- I'm gonna get back on to, uh, uh, the veterinary field for a minute. (laughing) Um, uh, and you'd be in a good, a good position to answer this one or comment on this one, George, because of your inspection, um, and so on. Well, what- what big changes have you seen in veterinary medicine since the days that you graduated?

George R. McGowan (38:39):
Computers.

Peter Ide (38:40):
Oh, yeah.

George R. McGowan (38:42):
Yeah. Um, my records ... Well, I had a- a- a system of, a color-coded system of recording and, uh, I- I helped out in the practice for about a year after I gra- or after I retired just to sort of keep a hand in.

Peter Ide (38:57):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (38:58):
It didn't work out very well and ... But by this time we were going into computers and the waste of paper was appalling.

Peter Ide (39:08):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (39:08):
'Cause I- I, with my color-coded system, within two seconds I could find anything I was looking for. And I had big drawers full of these records.

Peter Ide (39:15):
Yes.

George R. McGowan (39:17):
Now they've got wall full of 'em.

Peter Ide (39:20):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (39:22):
And this full of 'em.

Peter Ide (39:22):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (39:24):
But they had ... It's an appalling waste of paper.

Peter Ide (39:26):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And you've got walls full of them. Not because the practice has increased that much. It's just the paperwork is-

George R. McGowan (39:33):
Oh, yes. The practice, the practice has increased.

Peter Ide (39:35):
Right.

George R. McGowan (39:35):
When I, when I sold the practice, we were doing 330 or 340 thousand a year.

Peter Ide (39:41):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (39:41):
They're a million dollars more than that now.

Peter Ide (39:43):
Oh, I see.

George R. McGowan (39:45):
And they've- they've gone from ... Well, when I sold the practice to Peter Tropea, he took in a partner, fellow who wasn't doing very well and uh, he took in a partner.

Peter Ide (39:56):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (39:58):
Um, matter of fact, uh, after we made the deal, he said, "I'm gonna take a partner," and I said, "Don't you think it'd be a good idea if I met this guy?" 'Cause he'd been in town for- for three years.

Peter Ide (40:09):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (40:10):
And I never met him.

Peter Ide (40:11):
Oh, I see.

George R. McGowan (40:11):
When he arrived, I sent him a letter, and I signed the paper and he was here. And I sent him a letter of welcome. Was the least I could do.

Peter Ide (40:17):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (40:19):
He never acknowledged it. I [inaudible] why.

Peter Ide (40:22):
Oh, I see.

George R. McGowan (40:22):
But he did come in and introduce himself.

Peter Ide (40:22):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (40:23):
Prior to taking over my practice.

Peter Ide (40:25):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (40:27):
And, uh, now they've got, they had a third one 'cause we had a third one. Um, did you ever know, uh, Gordon, uh, oh, Gordon Bennett?

Peter Ide (40:41):
No.

George R. McGowan (40:42):
He was in an Edinburgh actually.

Peter Ide (40:42):
Yeah, was he?

George R. McGowan (40:42):
He practiced in Avenau.

Peter Ide (40:42):
Oh.

George R. McGowan (40:46):
And he practiced at, for Johnson and Cart when he first came out here.

Peter Ide (40:49):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (40:52):
And then he went to ... He opened his own practice in Avinor, and he and I became very good friends. Whenever there was something going on, Ron Bennett and Gordon and Mabel and George were always together.

Peter Ide (41:05):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (41:05):
And we had a very, very close relationship. Uh, that's not always possible when you're competing that way.

Peter Ide (41:12):
Right.

George R. McGowan (41:12):
There- there's some- some- some friction.

Peter Ide (41:12):
Right.

George R. McGowan (41:16):
Anyhow, as a matter of fact, one time somebody phoned me they're ... And I- I- I was an inside man at the skunk course. I did the skunk de-scent. I learned that when I was at LeGard's in Weston. And one time, this lady phoned in. She had this skunk that she wanted to have de-scented. I said, uh, I didn't do them in the office; I did them down at the back end of the yard, outside 'cause they- they can smell a bit.

George R. McGowan (41:45):
And, uh, she said, uh, "If, what- what do you charge?" and I think I was charging $45 or something like that. "Would you come to Ingleside?" I said that'll just be miles [inaudible] today." I said, "Oh, no. Bring him into the office." "Oh, I can't do that." "Why now?" "I can't catch it." I said, "What do you mean you can't catch it?"

Peter Ide (42:04):
(laughs)

George R. McGowan (42:04):
"This is a baby skunk?" "Oh, no, it's a grown-up skunk. It has babies."

Peter Ide (42:08):
Oh. (laughing)

George R. McGowan (42:09):
I said, "Madam, this is a wild animal. There's no way you could tame this thing."

Peter Ide (42:14):
Right.

George R. McGowan (42:15):
"Well, who can I get to do it?" I said, "I haven't got the foggiest idea, but good luck." So she called Gord Bennett and to his dying day (laughs) Gord thought I'd sicced him onto her. (laughing) Gord had a heart as big as a house. He fought [inaudible], 46.

Peter Ide (42:34):
Oh, gosh.

George R. McGowan (42:35):
Fell apart. It's the way-

Peter Ide (42:38):
It's the way it goes, eh?

George R. McGowan (42:39):
Yeah.

Peter Ide (42:39):
Wow.

George R. McGowan (42:40):
Rhonda's, the widow's still living in Avinor.

Peter Ide (42:42):
Oh.

George R. McGowan (42:42):
And his son, uh, Richard. He became a veterinarian. He worked for me for a while when he was between jobs, and he worked in my office. I was trying out the third practitioner and, uh ...

Peter Ide (42:54):
So you had a lot of influence on, uh, a lot of people, actually.

George R. McGowan (42:57):
Yeah, I think so. Yeah. I think so.

Peter Ide (42:57):
Yeah. What, um, uh, if some young person came to you and I'm, well, I'm sure this has happened.

George R. McGowan (43:04):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Peter Ide (43:04):
And said they're contemplating a career in veterinary medicine, what would you say?

George R. McGowan (43:10):
I'd say, "Well, I think maybe you're talking to the wrong guy." I said-

Peter Ide (43:13):
Why?

George R. McGowan (43:14):
I've enjoyed my- my practice and my- my professional life so much that I don't know an answer. And I'm not one to advise you.

Peter Ide (43:26):
Yeah. Well, let's say ... That's an interesting answer, but, I mean-

George R. McGowan (43:29):
Sure.

Peter Ide (43:30):
... you- you- you- you've had such an enjoyable time.

George R. McGowan (43:32):
I- I said I can't ... Oh, yes.

Peter Ide (43:32):
And contributed so much.

George R. McGowan (43:34):
Yeah. Yeah. I- I- I- I could never picture myself. From the age of seven that's all I want to do.

Peter Ide (43:38):
Right.

George R. McGowan (43:41):
That's all I ever did. As a matter of fact, one night in our kitchen, our son was about 17 or 18 at the time, and we're sitting at the kitchen table chewing the fat. The phone rang, and I said, "Okay, I'll be right there." I did not want to talk to him. So I said, "Well, I gotta go." Said, "Dad," he says, "that's one of the reasons I don't want to be a vet." He says, "I'm going to bed. You're going on a call." And I've seen me in the ... (laughs) five and like this, hold my eyes open to see.

Peter Ide (44:13):
Yeah, that is the downside of practice. But there's also upside.

George R. McGowan (44:16):
Yeah.

Peter Ide (44:16):
Um, well, you know, uh, we could go on for a long time but we're ... I should keep these fairly short.

George R. McGowan (44:23):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Peter Ide (44:23):
But, um, just before we end it, I- I'd like ... You- you've mentioned your family a little bit. Your, there's Mabel's here as well, but-

George R. McGowan (44:30):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Peter Ide (44:31):
... your- your children and how well they've done and so one, and I'd like just to mention that a little bit.

George R. McGowan (44:36):
Okay.

Peter Ide (44:36):
And then anything else, you wanted to mention about the veterinary medicine side of things.

George R. McGowan (44:40):
Well, Roddy's the oldest. He was born in 1951. He went to, uh, Cambrian College in Sault St. Marie and took a diploma in forest technology. Then he decided ... He worked in South Africa in the forest industry for one summer. Then he came back and he went to Trent University and got a BSc in geography and biology. And he works as an international mountain guide.

Peter Ide (45:00):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (45:01):
And he's now married to a Japanese girl and they live most the time in Tokyo. And we've been there to-

Peter Ide (45:06):
Interesting work, eh?

George R. McGowan (45:07):
... meet- meet her family and ... Yes. And, uh, and we've seen them here, uh, both here, in Japan and in Australia. They've been there.

George R. McGowan (45:17):
The, uh, second daughter is Virginia. Ginny, we call her. And she has a PhD from ... She got a B, uh, a BA from Trent, an MA and a PhD from the University of Toronto in anthropology. And her forte is addictions. She's now assistant director of addiction research at, in, uh, Montegue, Prince Edward Island.

Peter Ide (45:42):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (45:43):
And she's set for a distinguished career and, uh, she's married and has two girls. Megan is 22 and she's doing postgraduate work in Cambridge University in England and she's a violinist. And the youngest one, Laurie, she's 18. She plays the cello.

Peter Ide (45:57):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (45:59):
And matter of fact, uh, I was talking to Ginny yesterday and on Saturday they were at a concert where Laurie was in- in this octet playing music.

George R. McGowan (46:12):
And Nancy is, uh, she's a graduate of Humbert College in- in equine management. She went to Guelph, but she's asthmatic and, uh, she couldn't handle them. But that's where she met her husband.

Peter Ide (46:25):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (46:27):
And Derek is a, uh, physicist. He got his BSC from Guelph and then his Master of Science and his PhD from McMaster in Hamilton. And he did post-doctorates in University of British Columbia, TRIUMF laboratory.

George R. McGowan (46:49):
They were supposed to bri- bring up the Meson Accelerator in, uh, at the University of British Columbia. They were supposed to build a Kaon Accelerator and the funding was all in place except for about $200 million that Mulroney government was to put in and they reneged on it. So that feel apart.

Peter Ide (47:01):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (47:03):
And he would've been there and would've fantastic job if they'd built this Kaon Accelerator.

Peter Ide (47:07):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

George R. McGowan (47:08):
Uh, then he went to University of Baltimore, did a post docorate with University of Ohio and then the University of Oregon. In the meantime, Nancy was the manager of the Bombay Furniture Company.

Peter Ide (47:24):
Oh. Yeah. Really.

Mabel McGowan (47:27):
When she was young she wanted-

George R. McGowan (47:27):
When she was younger. And she- she was an eq- equine person.

Peter Ide (47:27):
Okay.

Mabel McGowan (47:27):
And she's been quite all over the country.

George R. McGowan (47:32):
At one time, at one time we had two in the university and one with a horse. (laughing) Nancy was quite a good rider. Yep. Lots of medals and trophies and stuff.

George R. McGowan (47:44):
And matter of fact, I have too. I've got ... I was the best boy rider of the Canadian National Exhibition when I was, uh, 13, 15 years old.

Peter Ide (47:52):
Really? That's 'cause it's unusual for boys to be riding, isn't it?

George R. McGowan (47:55):
Now it isn't. Yeah, no. No.

Peter Ide (47:57):
Yeah. But not- not- not when you were 13.

George R. McGowan (47:58):
No.

Peter Ide (47:58):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (48:00):
They had this special competition that they made a national exhibition. Best boy rider 15 years of age and under.

Peter Ide (48:07):
Hmm.

George R. McGowan (48:07):
And I won it in 1938. I won it. I was second in 1939 and I was first in 1940. I beat the guy that beat me the year before. (laughs)

Peter Ide (48:16):
That's very good.

George R. McGowan (48:17):
I still have the medals and all.

Peter Ide (48:17):
Yeah. That's pretty good there.

George R. McGowan (48:20):
Yeah. Yeah. And the- the certificates.

Peter Ide (48:21):
Oh.

George R. McGowan (48:21):
I've got-

Mabel McGowan (48:21):
15 is not, is it?

Peter Ide (48:21):
Yes. In the house that we're in right now is your daughter, belongs to your daughter and her husband.

George R. McGowan (48:28):
Jean. Yeah, yeah.

Peter Ide (48:29):
And she is ...

George R. McGowan (48:29):
Jean is a- a forensic scientist. She's in psychogenetic laboratory of the Children's Hospital, Eastern Ontario in charge of the laboratory. And her husband Scott is a PhD from ... I think he got his PhD in toxicology up to ... Well, he got it in Guelph.

Peter Ide (48:49):
Yeah.

George R. McGowan (48:49):
Jean got hers from the University of Ottawa.

Peter Ide (48:50):
Okay.

George R. McGowan (48:52):
And her forte is biology. And, uh, uh, Scott works for, uh, the government here in toxicology.

Peter Ide (49:01):
Yeah. Okay. So a very well-educated family.

George R. McGowan (49:04):
When we get them to quit going to school.

Peter Ide (49:05):
George, we're gonna have to draw- draw this to a close.

George R. McGowan (49:07):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Peter Ide (49:08):
Um, anything else you'd like to mention wa- before we shut this off? I mean, we've covered a tremendous area, and you've had a tremendous career. But is there anything I've missed?

George R. McGowan (49:20):
Yes, I don't, I don't, I haven't given credit to the one who's responsible for most of it, who's sitting right over there.

Peter Ide (49:26):
(laughs) Uh, well, good. That's great. Yeah, that's great.

George R. McGowan (49:29):
And without her, it would've been impossible.

Peter Ide (49:31):
Yeah. That's really, I see what-

George R. McGowan (49:33):
Great strength. Great strength.

Peter Ide (49:34):
That's a great way to end the interview. Thank you very much for your time.

George R. McGowan (49:37):
Thank you.

Peter Ide (49:38):
Yeah. Thank you.

George R. McGowan (49:38):
Hmm.

Peter Ide (49:38):
Great.

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