Mr. Hinchley relates, in detail, events at the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) including registration, the dorm, the food, residence and college rules, lectures, student labour, the Sunday church service, initiation, and student activities on and off the campus including pranks. He also recalls, with fondness, many Professors’ nicknames and Professor Blackwood and Professor Stevenson get special mention.
Harry recalls many men prominent in Agriculture in the ‘20s to ‘40s. Mr Hinchley worked in creameries in western Canada and several places in Ontario. He recalls some of the primitive equipment and working conditions, as well as some of the people and some of the pay scales. OAC fitted him well for work in the creamery business.
AudioHarry Hinchley interview
J. L. Baker (00:04):
... 1923 was taped in Renfrew, Ontario on September the 11th, 1985, by James L Baker OAC, 1928. What influenced you to attend the OAC?
Harry Hinchley (00:23):
I think the real reason was because I wanted to learn about butter-making, about dairy. And Doug Beatty and I had worked together at the Seaforth Creamery. Doug Beatty was going to go to OAC and he more or less talked me into going along with them to learn about butter-making.
J. L. Baker (00:48):
Where was your home originally?
Harry Hinchley (00:50):
My home was in Huron County in Seaforth town.
J. L. Baker (00:55):
Were you born in the raised on a farm?
Harry Hinchley (00:57):
I was raised in a farm in Holland Township in Huron County.
J. L. Baker (01:01):
Yeah. Was it a dairy farm?
Harry Hinchley (01:03):
Not particularly, just a mix farm.
J. L. Baker (01:05):
Harry Hinchley (01:05):
We did have cows and my mother made butter.
J. L. Baker (01:08):
What do you remember about your first day at the OAC as a student?
Harry Hinchley (01:13):
Doug Beatty and I came down before noon. We went up to the college. We went up to the college and we toured around the college for a while. And then we went downtown for dinner. We went to a Chinese cafe and I think we had a good dinner and I think the price was 65 cents. And after dinner, we went back up to the college and we registered. They had our names, of course, with our applications and they just checked them off. After we registered, G.C. Clearman, he was the president of the college at that time, he greeted us each. And then we were welcomed to the college by the president. And then we were shown to our rooms. Doug Beatty and I roomed together in room 90, up on Creek Street in Old Residence.
J. L. Baker (02:10):
You mentioned Craig Street, now that's the Old residence or Old Johnston Hall.
Harry Hinchley (02:18):
I guess they called it Johntson Hall House, it was, yes. We just called it the Old Residence.
J. L. Baker (02:24):
Yeah. Do you remember some of the other sections of the Hall you said was Craig Street?
Harry Hinchley (02:30):
Yeah. Yeah, so it was Craig street. Then there was Upper and Lower Patton. And there was Middle street. And there was Upper and Lower Patton. There was Grub Alley. Grub Alley was called after the old dining hall, which had been down in that wing. And they took the dining hall out when they built the new hall. And they called that section Grub Alley. And then there was Bog Alley. Bog alley was called after the bogs. I think the bogs was, in those days, I think was gentleman's lavatory, I think, was the bogs one time. So they call this Bog Alley, anyway. Those were the parts.
J. L. Baker (03:09):
Do you remember, approximately, what might cost you to go to OAC? What it cost you for room and board each week?
Harry Hinchley (03:18):
I'm not sure, but it was well under $10, I know that.
J. L. Baker (03:22):
And what would tuition be?
Harry Hinchley (03:26):
I think the tuition was... I think it was $25 a term, but I'm not sure of that either.
J. L. Baker (03:31):
Yeah. You recall what the food was like in the dining room?
Harry Hinchley (03:35):
Well, it depends what your appetite was like. I thought the food was all right. Some didn't. But they were very critical about some of the things. They didn't give with milk all the time, they gave was Klim. Klim was sort of a powdered, skimmed milk. I think it's off the market years and years ago. They gave us Klim. It was a pretty terrible substitute for milk. And then, on Fridays, they gave us fish. Well, that fish was pretty terrible, we thought. One time they got a fish and they got a little wooden cross and they printed RIP on the little wooden cross, and they stuck it in the fish. This ended up at the Dean's table. We didn't get any boiled fish after that. They had a song, how'd that go? They gave us fish on Fridays from six months out at sea.
J. L. Baker (04:36):
Was that bad, was it?
Harry Hinchley (04:38):
Well, that's what they said. The fish wasn't really all that bad. But you can give anything a bad name. It wasn't all that bad. If you were hungry enough, the meals were all right. I enjoyed them, anyway. And we were well-fed, I would say.
J. L. Baker (04:58):
You would start to college about the fall of 1919, around there.
Harry Hinchley (05:04):
J. L. Baker (05:05):
Were there many returned men still in-
Harry Hinchley (05:07):
Yes, we had a lot of returned men. Oh, I would say probably a third, maybe, of our students were returned men. The returned men got some special bonus, I think, for returning to college.
J. L. Baker (05:21):
It'd be a large class, then.
Harry Hinchley (05:23):
We had 267 in our class.
J. L. Baker (05:26):
Would that be the largest class at the college up to that time?
Harry Hinchley (05:29):
I think it was the largest up to that time.
J. L. Baker (05:34):
Do you recall some of the general house rules of residence? The hours of study? What time you had to have lights out?
Harry Hinchley (05:46):
Yes, we had to be in our rooms from seven to nine, or half past. And we had to be in there and be quiet. We're supposed to be studying, but as long as we kept quiet it was all right. We were supposed to keep out of other students rooms. Then, after 9.30, we could wander around and do what we like till 11 o'clock. And 11 o'clock, in the Old Residence, the lights were turned out. So, to make things go before then, we had candles and we'd light these candles and go to bed by a candlelight when the time came.
J. L. Baker (06:26):
Did you have any sort of unofficial rules of your own?
Harry Hinchley (06:29):
Yes, we had a lot of unofficial conduct rules that were just sort of more or less unwritten. Well, one of them was that there was to be no fighting. We couldn't have a fist fight in earnest with each other. We could have a lot of scuffles, that was all right. But you couldn't have an earnest fight. That was forbidden. It just wasn't done. And then there was some unwritten rule about stealing. I'm not just too sure what it was, but there was no stealing because it was supposed to be a terrible penalty. And I think, I'm not sure because it was never talked about, but I think a student was brought up before the faculty. And, if it was proven that he'd been stealing, he was just forbidden to ever go to the residence again. I think that would be it. He'd go to class, but he couldn't go into the residence or associate too much with the other students.
J. L. Baker (07:25):
What time did lectures start when you were there?
Harry Hinchley (07:30):
Lectures started at a quarter to nine, but we had a roll call at 8.30. We had to go to roll call in Massey Hall and the Dean read a chapter from the Bible and we had a prayer and he took a roll call. And then, after he took the roll call, then we went to our class.
J. L. Baker (07:54):
When did classes end? Did they last till six o'clock?
Harry Hinchley (08:01):
No, I'd say in the fore noon. They lasted from a quarter to nine to 12 o'clock and then they started again at 1.30, and they lasted till 4.30. That is on the days we didn't do student labor.
J. L. Baker (08:15):
Now you mentioned student labor. Now, what was that?
Harry Hinchley (08:19):
Student labor was farming the students out to the various departments for two afternoons a week. We were supposed to go and work in the cow barn or the pig barn or around any of the buildings that new needed us. They had an awful time finding jobs for us, but we all had our assignments. I mind, I ended up with a special to the dairy department, I thought that was all right. But they got me over there and I had to wash windows and scrub floors and do the like of that, which I didn't like very well.
Harry Hinchley (09:01):
Then, afterwards, I got a special in the English department, with Dr. Stevenson, typewriting. Dr. Stevenson had to have somebody to run a typewriter, so I applied and I got the job. And I used to type for Dr. Stevenson. I liked that pretty well because Dr. Stevenson was a very easy master and a very, very decent chap. It was a wonderful thing to work with Dr. Stevenson at all. It was a real pleasure to type for him.
J. L. Baker (09:34):
Were there classes on Saturdays?
Harry Hinchley (09:36):
We had classes on Saturday morning from... I think they were from nine to 12 on Saturday morning, if I'm not mistaken. I think that was it. I don't think we had roll call Saturday morning, I'm not sure about that.
J. L. Baker (09:50):
On Sundays were you required to go to church or did you have services?
Harry Hinchley (09:54):
Weren't required to go to church, but we were... It was encouraged. And they used to have a chapel service in Massey Hall on Sundays. They'd bring a minister up from one of the city churches and he would have a service over in Massey Hall. And they'd go over there and have songs and prayers and a regular sermon, a regular church service in Massey Hall, at 2.30, I guess, on Sunday afternoons.
J. L. Baker (10:30):
What do you recall about your freshman initiation?
Harry Hinchley (10:36):
We had a President that told us that we were to submit to everything that the sophomores told us. Now, we outnumbered the sophomores about two to one, and we didn't have to do that. But we didn't know that. The sophomores were terrified that we might turn on them. But we were very docile and we just did what they told us and we got along fine. We had no trouble. We had our initiation. It all was over and no one was hurt. Ended up with a flag fight, which we were going to defend the flag but they took the flag, in very short order, from us.
J. L. Baker (11:19):
You're talking about the flag fight. What was it like?
Harry Hinchley (11:24):
In the flag fight the sophomores had erected a flag, a pole, about 15 feet high. On the top of which they had a red flag attached. Now, we were to defend that flag and they were to take it. Well, the way we did was to live all around the pool. We thought, with a good crowd of men around the pool, we'd be able to defend it all right. Well, the first thing was, we got a shower of tomatoes from one side. Then we got a shower of tomatoes from the other side, which was hard enough to take. And then we were kind of contending with the take, with the tomatoes.
Harry Hinchley (12:04):
And then there came a buck in from one side, with about 15 or 20 men, just all on one body-making charge right in. They hit us from one side and then, about half a minute afterwards, they came in from the other side. And then we were doing as best we could to defend ourselves against these fellows. And there would be a third or fourth buck come in from somewhere else. And I mind to the last, when the final buck came in, they got right into the pole. And Scott McMount, we found out afterwards, darted in from the back. And he ran over the backs with all these fellows and his buck up to the pole. And he jumped and he got the flag and that flag fight was over like that. And it didn't last two minutes.
J. L. Baker (12:55):
Were the freshmen required to wear any special costumes, or garbs, during initiation period?
Harry Hinchley (13:01):
Oh, yes. Yes. We had to wear red caps, which the sophomores sold was for 50 cents a piece. They didn't have enough red caps, so they had to sell some with blue caps, which we had. We had to wear these caps at all times. And, when we went into the dining hall or into class, we were supposed to hang them on our nail outside. When we hung them on the nail outside, we found out afterwards, they wouldn't be there when we came out. So we broke rules by putting these caps into our pockets, which was a place of safety. We had to wear these caps and-
J. L. Baker (13:36):
How long, how long were you required to wear them before they-
Harry Hinchley (13:43):
Up to Field Day. We had to wear the caps from the start up till Field Day, which was, I think, it's about the first week of October.
J. L. Baker (13:54):
When you were sophomores and it was your turn to initiate the incoming freshman class, what stunts did you pull on them? Or did you change any from the type of initiation you got?
Harry Hinchley (14:06):
When we were sophomores, there'd been rule passed under, I think it was, the new President, JB Reynolds. Dr. Reynolds passed the rules to be no initiation. So we had a ceremony, the Death of Initiation. I don't remember too much about that, but there was a long parade, I think, around the campus. Off the incoming freshman, which was supposed to be the funeral procession of the initiation, something like that. So, we didn't have a wild initiation like they did there.
Harry Hinchley (14:44):
But I mind we did have something else too, down in the judging pavilion one night. Some of them who'd miss initiation, or something, were taken down there to be initiated. We got down in there, well, just what went on there I'll not tell you, but it'd get out of hand. And then it ended that there was a great race out there, up, along in front of the Old Residence. In front of the Old Residence, at that time, they had little hitching posts, about two and a half or three feet high, made of iron for tying horses to. And one of the freshmen ran into the hitching post and he was very, very badly hurt. So the hitching posts were removed after that.
J. L. Baker (15:29):
Do you recall if there was still horse and wagons come up there and those hitching posts were used?
Harry Hinchley (15:39):
Not really. There were not too many horse and wagons in our days. But, at one time, people would come up there with horses and buggies and they'd have to tie up the horses somewhere. So, they had these little iron hitching posts in front of the Old Residence to tie the horses too.
J. L. Baker (15:58):
They were sort of remnant from earlier days?
Harry Hinchley (16:01):
That's right. They were from way back when, before cars, when they had have posts around to tie horses to.
J. L. Baker (16:08):
You mentioned in the beginning that your reason for coming to the OAC was to specialize in the dairy industry. What year did you start to specialize?
Harry Hinchley (16:20):
We started to specialize in our third year. We took a little bit in our third year, but they really put dairy into us in our fourth year.
J. L. Baker (16:28):
Where there many of your class in the dairy option.
Harry Hinchley (16:34):
We had twin our dairy option in the fourth year, and the third year too for that matter.
J. L. Baker (16:39):
Who were some of the professors that you recall?
Harry Hinchley (16:44):
Oh, I recall some of the professors that I liked, I'll tell you about them. Professor Dean, I liked him. Professor HH Dean. He wrote, a book called Canadian, Dairy, and every student had to buy his book on Canadian Dairy, which I think was a splendid book. It covered the subject in a very good way. And then Professor Dean lectured from that book. Professor HH, Dean, Henry Holstein was his nickname.
Harry Hinchley (17:13):
There was Professor Blackwood, Professor WC Blackwood. He was our class president. He had been, I think, a teacher in some of the city schools in Toronto. I always thought he was a wonderful teacher because he really was a wonderful man. And professor Blackwood was very, very highly regarded. And he used to tell us about a lot of things that just weren't on the curriculum. I mind he told us about swearing. He said he liked swearing, he approved of it if he could hear a man that could swear well. But he said he never heard a man swear well. And then he used to lecture us on smoking and so on. Give us more or less... More moral instruction from time to time, thrown in with his classes. He was a very learned professor.
Harry Hinchley (18:01):
Then there was Dr. Stevenson, Dr. Stevenson used to have a class, at one stage, every Wednesday when he would play a record. A classical record on a phonograph that he had. And that was supposed to instill on us a love with classical music. And I think it did. And professor Stevenson would lecture us on the stars, the skies, on the various constellations. He had a lot to say about that. And he used to tell us about Canadian painters. Tom Jackson was one of his great favorites. And he would tell us about Tom Jackson and the group of seven and so on. And, oh, he did a lot of things that just weren't on the curriculum. He tried to instill in us a love of all literature, and particularly a love of Canadian literature. Dr. Stevenson told us one time that if any student of his was ever heard saying, "It ain't," or, "I seen it," or, "I done it," or, "I went," he would never get out of the second year. And I think that was right, because those were things that you hear so often, but never from Dr. Stevenson's students.
J. L. Baker (19:23):
You mentioned, at the beginning, a Professor Dean. And I think you used the term Henry Holstein Dean. Now, for some of the other professors, did you have nicknames?
Harry Hinchley (19:38):
We had nicknames for various professors. Professor Howard, he was Old Gander Howard. There was another professor, he was the [inaudible] we called him. Then we had another one was [inaudible]. And Professor Squirrel, he was Old Bill Squirrel. Professor Howard, he was Old Gander Howard. And we had another lecturer, he was always Prunus Domesticus, after the common name of the plum. He used to tell us about the plum in the horticultural classes, so we called him Prunus Domesticus. We had a lot of names for a lot of the professors this way.
J. L. Baker (20:24):
You mentioned quite a bit about Professor Blackwood. He was your Honorary President.
Harry Hinchley (20:29):
That's right. Professor Blackwood was... I think he was a new teacher, a new professor, when we came in. And for that reason, among others, we picked Professor Blackwood to be our Honorary president.
J. L. Baker (20:46):
Who are some of your classmates that you recall?
Harry Hinchley (20:49):
Oh, I recall an old roommate of mine, Jack Amrose. Jack Amrose afterwards became Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Alberta. There was Frank Jones. Frank Jones was in the dairy office. Frank Jones afterwards became President of Boydens, which was a big, big job. There was Fred Hutt, I guess Dr. Hutt. Dr. Hutt became a noted geneticist. And he wrote a book called the Foul, I think. He wrote a very learned a book, anyway, and he was the recognized authority on poultry.
Harry Hinchley (21:31):
Then there was Jerry Rocky, Professor Rocky. Professor Tim Dice. Tim Dice devised... Or, well, he discovered the pasteurization of honey. There was Keith Little. Keith Little, he was a very capable student. He handled the year all the time. Keith afterwards was an Ag Rep up in Western Ontario. His son, Riddle, is Minister of Agriculture in the present Peterson government.
Harry Hinchley (22:10):
Now, there was Pete Derby, Dr. Derby. He became dairy commissioner down at Ottawa. Doug Beatty, Doug Beatty became Chief sheriff of the grading department. They were just some that I can think of. Art McKenzie. Art McKenzie, I think was Deputy Minister of Agriculture down in Nova Scotia. We had several of the boys that afterwards became very... They did very well. Matty Magiffen was another. Matty Magiffen became an Information Officer with the Department of Agriculture in Ottawa. He was also editor of the Canadian Horticultural magazine at one time. Orille Evens was a writer With one of the Montreal papers. We had several of the boys that, our classmates, that afterwards became more or less well known.
J. L. Baker (23:13):
What do you recall of campus life in general? You mentioned a little earlier about residence life. Campus activities such as banquets and parties and-
Harry Hinchley (23:28):
We used to have a lot of fun. We used to have dances over at Mac Hall periodically. And we used to have dances down in the gym. If there was any concerts or anything like that, it always ended up with a dance. And there used to be skating parties. We used to have a lot of little, little lunches in our room afterwards. Somebody would get a loaf of bread, or something, from the dining hall. Somebody else would get a half a pound of butter or also get a bottle of milk and we'd have a great old feed-up in our rooms at night, out from the dining hall. We used to do that.
J. L. Baker (24:16):
Before we started taping, you mentioned the Sod Busters, who were they?
Harry Hinchley (24:21):
The Sod Busters was a concert party, organized in the year in 1921, that toured Ontario to raise money to build the Memorial hall. They were really an outgrowth of the college concerts, the philharmonic concert and the athletic concert, and so on. They had Burt Troupe and they had George Patton and they had Mauve Coburn and Bert Redick on the piano. They had about six or seven or so. They put on a little show that consisted of songs and trios. They had one group they called the Tramp Trio. That was Cust Edwards and Charlie Riding and somebody else. They used to sing as the Tramp Trio, and they did a good job, too. George Patton would sing. He would sing or he'd give a little skit. And there were other little skits and little performances, and so on. They put on quite a little show and I guess they raised a certain amount of money. I don't know much, but they toured the country anyway.
J. L. Baker (25:31):
When did they do this tour?
Harry Hinchley (25:34):
I beg your pardon?
J. L. Baker (25:35):
When did they do this tour?
Harry Hinchley (25:36):
They did this in the summer of 1921.
J. L. Baker (25:40):
And what was their purpose of putting the concerts on?
Harry Hinchley (25:44):
Well, to raise money to build the War Memorial Hall.
J. L. Baker (25:49):
You mentioned now the War Memorial Hall. Were you there at the beginning of the construction of War Memorial Hall?
Harry Hinchley (25:58):
I'm not too sure how to answer that. When I was there, I guess it would be in the fall of '21, they started to build, or to dig, the foundation, or to dig the basement. And they let each year take a day and go out and spend the day with shovels and picks and wheelbarrows, and so on, excavating for the basement.
J. L. Baker (26:26):
Did the students do the complete excavation without any-
Harry Hinchley (26:31):
I'm not sure about that. The students did a lot of work anyway. We had a lot of fun digging, and so on. And the girls in Mac Hall used to come over in the middle of the afternoon and bring us sandwiches and coffee. And we had a lot of fun out of it. And we dug a lot of earth at the same time.
J. L. Baker (26:49):
I understand that you used to play in the college orchestra?
Harry Hinchley (26:54):
Well, I was the drummer in the college orchestra, yes. We had a good little gang. And at one time we used to play for the college dances. The students seemed to like our music and they hired us for all the dances. Of course, they were very charitable and they didn't mind helping us out by paying us instead of paying a city orchestra. So, we got $5 a piece for playing for a dance. $5 in those days was a lot of money. It went a long way towards paying college expenses.
J. L. Baker (27:31):
How many would be in the orchestra?
Harry Hinchley (27:33):
There were seven, were all there for this dance orchestra. And we played and we put on the whole program without any music. And I don't know who was leading, we just played and got away with it.
J. L. Baker (27:49):
Were there any special visitors come to the OAC when you were a student?
Harry Hinchley (27:54):
There used to be distinguished men come from time to time. JJ Morrison, the Provincial Secretary, I think he was, in the Jury government came up one time. And he addressed a gathering in Massey Hall. I remember that one of the students was very critical of JJ Morris and he had a lot of remarks and rude interruptions to make, and so on. And that didn't go well with the rest of the students. So, as a result, he was taken, afterwards he was tried and condemned and he was sentenced to being tanked. Well, to be tanked he was taken out the gym and just thrown into the tank, clothes and all. That cooled him down.
J. L. Baker (28:39):
In 1919, that was the year the Prince of Wales was over in Canada. Did he pay a visit to the OAC?
Harry Hinchley (28:48):
Yes, the Prince of Wales came up there one time. The students all took off. And we had the privilege of meeting him, or rather of seeing him. The returned men were all allowed to shake hands with him. And he addressed the gathering of all the students in the gym. I mind, one of the students, who wasn't a returned man, lined up with the returned men to shake hands with the Prince of Wales. And the result of that he was throw in the tank, as I say, and that cooled him off.
J. L. Baker (29:30):
There was certain... Again, we were talking earlier about certain student priorities. You were talking about mustaches. When were mustaches allowed to be worn?
Harry Hinchley (29:47):
I don't know. That was just some sort of unwritten rule or custom. A freshman couldn't have a mustache. In the second... I think some of the second year men had mustaches. Many of the third year men had mustaches. But in the fourth year, that was quite acceptable to have a mustache. He also, in the fourth year, could carry a cane. A freshman no way could carry a can or have a mustache. Second year man couldn't yet carry a cane. You couldn't carry a cane until he got into the fourth year anyway.
J. L. Baker (30:21):
What student pranks do you recall in your time? Were there water fights or anything like that?
Harry Hinchley (30:32):
Oh, we had water fights. I mind, in the first year we took on the whole college in the snowball fight. In the, well I guess, it'd be around December when the snow was good. We were going from class to class and some of the first year threw snowballs at the second year. And they threw back and it ended up with all the first year lined up and got into it. And we had quite a fight all away from in front of the old botany building down below the physics building. And it got pretty rough because we'd pick up snow off the road and the snow had little gravel stones. And some of these little gravel stones were in the snowballs and they'd hit and they'd cut you. A lot of the boys went around with cut faces after that. We had a big fight. But after the big fight, it was all over. But I mind we dealt with some of the boys that didn't fight for this.
J. L. Baker (31:40):
Were there any downtown shenanigans at all, do you recall?
Harry Hinchley (31:47):
I remember one time, in our first year, we went there and there was an old roof of a street car, the top of a street car, laying around behind the Old Residence. It seems that on the last day of the college year in the spring before, the students had wrecked a car up at the college. Then they all went to their own homes right away before any action could be taken. So, nothing happened about it at all, but the roof of the car was left there. So I remember that our class all lined up around this roof of the car and we just carried it down street to St. Georgia square. That wasn't very acceptable because the city didn't like having a street car demolished. And then to have this old top brought down just brought the whole thing back to their remembrance.
J. L. Baker (32:47):
What theaters were operating, do you recall, when you were a student?
Harry Hinchley (32:54):
No, there was the Griffin theater. That was a legitimate theater where they used to put actions on the stage. And then there was a... I think it was the Allen Theater they called it, or something, downtown. That was a straight-moving picture house. That was a good place to go. We used to go down there on Saturday nights and the students would clap and cheer at the wrong time, I remember, whenever a serial come on. They showed a lot of serial in those days. Whenever they came on, we'd cheer and clap for the villain. And I remember that, we made a lot of disturbance. That was the Allen Theater. Then afterwards they built what they call the Castle Theater up on Upper Wyndham Street. The Castle Theater was a real high-class moving picture house. We used to go to these theaters downtown, generally on a Saturday night.
J. L. Baker (33:49):
Was there ever, other than this cheering, any shenanigans go on in the theaters?
Harry Hinchley (33:57):
I mind one time, down at the Griffin Theater, they had some kind of a play. And, sometime in the play, the hero and the heroin were supposed to get very intimate, or something like that. And one of them students, he took great exception to that and it was offending his morals. So, he had a big meeting up at the college. We were all invited to this meeting. And at the meeting, he pointed out the dangers of this show and how it should be dealt with, and should be closed. So what he had us do was to each take a bag of prow, of pig feed, which you had a meal, a pig meal. Give us all a little bag of pig meal, and he gave us all of toilet paper each, and we went down there.
Harry Hinchley (34:54):
And at the proper time, he jumped up and he said, "It's rotten, boys." Just like that, we all fired our bag of pig feet and a roll of toilet paper. And the stage, just in three seconds, all turned white. Well, the manager rang the curtain down after he got his breath. And then he came out and he apologized. He was very sore, he didn't deserve the like of this. He didn't, there was nothing wrong with the show. But we just had to break up something. And it just so happened that we picked it onto him. So, we really felt sorry for the fellow. They tried to put on a show and they tried to entertain us and they didn't deserve that kind of a breakup. But that's what they got.
J. L. Baker (35:43):
Did you feel that there was animosity between this city and the college in those days? Or was there, behind all this shenanigans, reasonable, fairly friendly, relationships?
Harry Hinchley (36:02):
No, I don't think we were particularly well-liked because we used to make trouble downtown, more or less. We'd go down to their parades and we used to interfere with their street cars. There was... I know that is a bad time because, on the last car coming up from the city, they'd have one man on the street car. He was both the conductor and the motorman. Well, the poor fella was supposed to handle a bunch of students, and he couldn't do it. They'd pull the trolley off the wire.
Harry Hinchley (36:42):
The trolley was the thing that stuck up above the roof of the street car and ran along the wire to get current to run the motor to drive the car. So, we'd get out and somebody's pull the trolley off. And then the motor would stop. And they couldn't have the motorman and get out to put the trolley back on. Well, as soon as he got back on, somebody would maybe start the car, where they'd go without the motorman. Oh, that a lot of trouble, that was, sometimes. Not too often, but every once and so often. So, we'd run the street car along the street and let the motorman run behind.
J. L. Baker (37:16):
Despite all this, most of you eventually graduated. What was your first employment after you graduated?
Harry Hinchley (37:26):
I went out west with a group of seven out to the problem of Saskatchewan to be government cream graders. We were given a course in suction in cream grading. And then we were sent out to the various creams, around the problems, as employees of the government to officially grade the cream and was purchased at the creameries.
J. L. Baker (37:53):
How long did you stay at each creamery?
Harry Hinchley (37:55):
Oh, for two or three months.
J. L. Baker (38:00):
And did you any do anything else in the creamers besides-
Harry Hinchley (38:04):
Yeah, we were supposed to help with the work as best we could. Some of us tested. And of us worked around the creamery and helped in general creamery. We worked... Helped to empty the cream and help make the butter and help do whatever work had to be done.
J. L. Baker (38:30):
How long did you stay out there?
Harry Hinchley (38:33):
I worked at that all summer. All the summer in 1923. And then, when the summer was over and the cream slowed down, The work was over.
J. L. Baker (38:47):
And where was your next employment?
Harry Hinchley (38:52):
I got a job then managing a cream ring for the Bulls Company at Tamworth. I went there and took charge of this creamery for them. I was the butter maker and, well, I was the manager. And I was in charge of the creamery for them.
J. L. Baker (39:04):
Do you recall any interesting events while you were there?
Harry Hinchley (39:12):
Oh, not particularly. It had been an old sea side in the Bulls Company. I'd bought it up and we ran it as best we could. We made our butter. We ran all summer. We operated with a steam engine, we had no electricity, no hydro, no power in those days. We had electric lights, such as they were generated locally. But we had to use a steam engine for power. We had to pump water from the well and our sewer just ran out into the field.
J. L. Baker (39:52):
How long were you at Tamworth?
Harry Hinchley (39:55):
I was there for the season of 1924.
J. L. Baker (40:00):
It just ran from the summer?
Harry Hinchley (40:02):
That's right, it closed down in the summer.
J. L. Baker (40:04):
Yeah, and where was your next employment?
Harry Hinchley (40:08):
In 1925, I went with Mac Robertson. I started in the Kingston creamery, and then I went out and took charge of the Sharbot Lake Creamery. I was manager of the Sharbot Lake Creamery from 1925 to 1928.
J. L. Baker (40:25):
You mentioned Mac Robertson. Tell me a little bit about him.
Harry Hinchley (40:31):
Oh, Mac Robertson, he was... Well, I wouldn't want to say the greatest ever, that's maybe putting it a little bit strong. But I don't know. He did a great deal more than he'll ever get credit for, for the creamery Endersy, Ontario. He did many, many things to promote the creamery Endersy of Ontario. And he was very fittingly elected to the hall of fame up in Belleville. His pictures up there, and a short citation of him, because he was really a wonderful creamery-man.
J. L. Baker (41:09):
Well, I understand that he was a graduate of the diploma course at OAC in 1898.
Harry Hinchley (41:21):
I believe he was an early graduate. He never said too much about that to us, but he was always very favorably exposed to boys from the OAC. He always liked to get a few OAC men in his employ.
J. L. Baker (41:39):
To name a couple of them, besides yourself?
Harry Hinchley (41:42):
Well, he had Frank Jones. Frank Jones used to run a churn for him. Frank Jones, after he'd became president, or general manager or whatever. He had a man at the Borden company for Canada. Sid Hall worked with him. And he had a few others that went on. They got the training with him and then they went on and they graduated.
J. L. Baker (42:13):
Did he have any particular traits that you recall that sort of registered with you as being important in your following years?
Harry Hinchley (42:28):
One thing I never want to forget about Mac Robertson is that he was years ahead of his time in that he would permit no use of tobacco around his creamery. He had a clause in the contract whereby the employee agreed not to use tobacco in any of the employers buildings. And, if he used that, the contract was voided and he was just out of a job. But Mac wanted to do that. But he was years ahead of his time in prohibiting smoking around creameries. He just wouldn't have it.
J. L. Baker (43:08):
And following Belleville Creameries, where did you go from there?
Harry Hinchley (43:14):
After I left Belleville Creameries, I went with the United Farmer's Cooperating Company. I came to rent through and working at creamer here. I was ultimately main manager, and I was manager of the Eastern Creamery branches of the United Farmer's Cooperating Company for 18 years.
J. L. Baker (43:41):
How do you feel that the OAC prepared you for the real world?
Harry Hinchley (43:50):
It gave, I would say, us the training in getting along with other people. We had to live in residence up there. We had to get along with everybody with all the other students and we got to do that. That set us in good stead afterwards. Because I think it was a characteristic of full OAC students, as far as I could see, that when they get out, they were very ordinary, down to earth men. In fact, I guess we were taught that, that we were just farmers. We were no better than anybody else. And it worked out that way because, no matter how much an OAC graduate might know, or how high position might be, he was still never above talking to any ordinary man off a farm, or any ordinary workman or anybody else. He was just a very ordinary person.
J. L. Baker (44:54):
Since you retired, I understand that you produced a gourmet recipe. Could you tell me about that?
Harry Hinchley (45:01):
I was with Weight Watchers. And Weight Watchers had a competition one time to produce a new dish. Well, I came up with an idea of a dish that I call Jim Stew. And Jim Stew was made out of meat and vegetables and so on. It was all boiled up together. And it was the judged very good in Eastern Ontario, so they flew us up to Toronto. We had to make a batch up in Toronto. And I made a batch of Jim Stew up in Toronto and it got first prize. They gave me a hundred dollar loan certificate of that. I was a pretty lucky with that. But I always attributed that to the fact that I'd been taught a lot by Professor Smallfield, and making ice cream before and all this sort of thing. So, to throw together an ordinary stew wasn't much of a job.
J. L. Baker (46:05):
Was it considered to be a diet stew? You were talking about Weight Watchers.
Harry Hinchley (46:13):
Oh yes, yes. It had to be acceptable to Weight Watchers, by which I mean it had to be only ingredients that was acceptable to their diet rules. It had to come up to their standards. It was afterwards published in the Weight Watchers magazine and distributed all over the country.
J. L. Baker (46:37):
I'd like to go back a moment to your working years. What were working conditions like in the creameries then?
Harry Hinchley (46:44):
When I arrived in the creamery business in 1918, I found out it was a hard job. In the summer of 1918, we used to go to work when necessary, when we got busy, at half fast five in the morning. And we worked from half past five in the morning till breakfast. Then we'd go home for breakfast. Then come back and work to noon, and home at noon. And then come back and work right through to when we were done. And we weren't done till around dark, often. So it was from half past five till eight o'clock at night. It was a long day. But we did it.
J. L. Baker (47:27):
This was at Renfrew Creamery, you said before you started college. Or not Renfrew Creamery, but Seaforth Creamery.
Harry Hinchley (47:36):
Seaforth in 1918.
J. L. Baker (47:36):
Harry Hinchley (47:37):
During the war years, the help was sort of scare that they just put us right to it. Well, we didn't any different, it worked like that. Working conditions afterwards, in Robertson's Creameries were a little better. At Sharbot Lake we used to go to work at half past five when necessary, but not very often. And we worked through till were finished. Well, there was a rule we were finished, oh, half past six or seven, something like that. We didn't work really long hours. Then all them orders came from Robertson one time that we will do all our work in 10 hours. From seven till six we were to get it done. And we got it done.
J. L. Baker (48:24):
Well, at Sharbot Lake with the creamery trucks out through that rough country in those days, did they always get in on time?
Harry Hinchley (48:36):
The cream trucks started out in good time, but they got in the late afternoon. We didn't grade the cream that night. We just put it into holding tanks, ice tanks, which I think was one of Neville's innovations. He had big cement tags constructed at the creamery that would all the afternoon for the days gathering of cream. And it was put in there and, we put in ice water, and the cream was nice and cold the next morning when we took it out and graded it and processed it the next morning.
J. L. Baker (49:15):
In the later years, in creamery business, they used to pay the producers a little extra if they drop the cream in themselves. Did that exist in your days?
Harry Hinchley (49:28):
Never existed at Sharbot Lake. I don't think that was Robertson's idea at all because I don't think Mac Robertson wanted to pay anybody when he had a truckload over the same territory. He didn't think that it was economically sound. If they wanted to bring the cream in, that was fine and dandy. But he didn't want to pay extra for it. Ultimately, he was forced into it by competition. Competition set the price, I think at 2 cents above truck price.
J. L. Baker (50:00):
When you went to Saskatchewan, what wages were you paid?
Harry Hinchley (50:06):
I'd say a creamery out there got around $5 a day, if I remember correctly. We were fairly well-paid according to the going scales in those days.
J. L. Baker (50:18):
And then, when you came down back to Ontario and starting the creameries there?
Harry Hinchley (50:25):
With Roberson, the scale from... During all the twenties, and I guess pretty much up to the time of the war, were fairly constant. A can washer would get, maybe, $15 a the week. Well, he paid them by the month. A junior truck driver, starting truck driver, would get $65 a month. Then, as he became more experienced and a better man, he got more. A top truck driver would get up to 80, maybe 85, a month. Inside it started, I suppose, at around 15, $18, a week, something like that. A good man in inside would be getting around 70, 75 a month. The butter maker would get around 75 to $90 a month. And a plant manager would be getting up 100 to 110, up to 125, something like that.
J. L. Baker (51:45):
And did the same wages rule when we came to Renfrew?
Harry Hinchley (51:51):
Pretty much. The wages were reasonably constant through the twenties. And then, in the thirties, we had the Depression and they may have gone down a little. It didn't go up. But they remained reasonably constant into the war. Then the price control come in during the war. But once price control, or wage control, was lifted, they actually stepped up a little bit. Wages, I don't think, really went up very drastically until the sixties or seventies.
J. L. Baker (52:27):
Do you recall just how low they did go before the Depression was over?
Harry Hinchley (52:43):
I know they had to be put down where they had to put down to. There just wasn't the money in the creamery business. But during the Depression... I know with United Cooperatives, in 1933, there was an order came through in the fall that wages were going to be cut. And they were cut up to about $5 a week. We accepted that because we knew the money wasn't there. The company couldn't pay it. And we accepted these cuts, we were glad to get a job. And then, of course, when conditions picked up and the profits increased a little bit in the spring, our wages were restored back to the former levels.
J. L. Baker (53:22):
When you were a student, going back to Seaforth Creamery when you were working there, what wages did you get?
Harry Hinchley (53:29):
If I remember correctly, I think I was paid around $90 a month. Of course, I was a fairly good man there. I was an experienced man. I had a fairly responsible position. So, I think they gave me around $90 a month, if I'm not mistaken. But I know when I was going to college, I figured I was offered much better than many of the boys because they didn't make that kind of money. They build on some other kind of work. They didn't get as good money as I got in the creamery business, I always thought.
J. L. Baker (54:06):
Did you work anywhere else during your college days, in the summer months, besides Seaforth?
Harry Hinchley (54:09):
Well, I worked at Seaforth 1918, 1919, 1920 and 1921, during the summers. And in the summer of 1922, I worked for the Walkerton Dairy in Walkerton.
J. L. Baker (54:21):
Who was the manager at Walkerton, then?
Harry Hinchley (54:26):
At Walkerton? Dick Clare was the manager. At Seaforth, Charlie Barber was the owner and manager. They were two very prominent creamery operators. They were both great men to work under.
J. L. Baker (54:50):
Now that you've been retired, what have you been doing since your working days?
Harry Hinchley (54:57):
I've been working on the typewriter, I guess I'd put it that way. Since I retired, I took an interest in the history of the area, and I made a study of the history of the area. And I've written a number of articles on historical subjects related to Renfrew. These, for the most part, have been published in the Renfrew Mercury. So I consider myself, what you'd call, a part-time journalist.
J. L. Baker (55:31):
Do you make regular contributions to the Renfrew Mercury?
Harry Hinchley (55:35):
Yes, I still do. I have a weekly column in there now. And gets called From the Old Files. It consists of what I've dug out of the old Mercury's in days gone by. I have a 100 years ago, and 75 years ago, and 50 years, and 25 years ago. Four sections, and each section relates to what I think are interesting items picked out of the old newspapers.
J. L. Baker (56:05):
The Renfrew Mercury has a good record of their early papers then.
Harry Hinchley (56:13):
The Renfrew Mercury, very fortunately, has complete files on microfilm of all the early papers, from 1871 right to date. These are on file in the Renfrew Library. Anybody can go in and see any old paper. And they're also on file in the public archives in Ottawa.
J. L. Baker (56:40):
Thank you very much, Harry, for giving me your time to have this interview.
Harry Hinchley (56:45):
Oh, it's been a pleasure. I just think of all the people that we worked with back in the creamery industry, 60 years, or longer, ago. How many are around now? Not too many. I think we're very fortunate to have people. It's hard to think that we're old-timers, but I guess we are old-timers. But if we don't tell these things who does?
J. L. Baker (57:12):