ALUMNI- IN-ACTION ORAL HISTORY
LLOYD GEORGE COLEMAN, OVC’41
Ontario Veterinary College, (1937-1941)
Interviewed by Rod Davies (I) and Ron Darling (D)
(Date of Interview)
I Dr. Coleman, would you tell us your full name and where you were born and grew up.
C I was named Lloyd George and I was born about three miles west of Perth, Ontario, in Lanark County, in my mother’s (Grandmother’s) home, eighty–eight and a half years ago. It is still occupied by my cousin. I get to see the place where I was born occasionally.
I That’s very nice. And then did you move when you were younger, Lloyd?
C I don’t remember, but they tell me that I lived in Sussex, New Brunswick as a child, celebrated Armistice Day, 1918, in Sussex, New Brunswick. The next thing that I can remember is my father running a creamery in Carleton Place, Ontario (Carlton County) that was, I think, 1921. So I was four years old then.
I And is that where you went to school?
C That’s where I went to school – in Carleton Place, and got my public and high school education in Carleton Place.
I Very good, and then what year did you decide to go to Vet College?
C In January of 1937, I came to Guelph to take the Dairy Short Course at O.A.C. Then while I was taking the course – it was a three month course - while I lived at the bottom of the hill there, in Edgehill with a group of veterinary students, one of them I got to be real friendly with – Don Gamble – and he suggested maybe I ought to come back and go to Vet College, instead of go back and run the creamery. So when I got back home after graduating from the Dairy Short Course, I told my Dad, I’d like to go to Vet College. Well, he says, “It’s your life. OK. You go to Vet College.” So, I applied and got in, I started in September ’37.
I Were there any highlights that you that you remember from your four years at Vet College?
C Well, most of them I’d like to forget. I’d not done anything very drastic, I don’t think. I did enjoy my preceptorship over in Illinois during the War. Maybe 1940.
On the way over, they pulled me off the bus in Detroit and they kept me in a cell for about four or five hours before they let me in. I don’t know whether they thought I was a spy or dodging the draft, or what the hell and anyway, I finally got to my destination in Burlington, Illinois, and I got working for a German Veterinarian – at least he was German extract. I think he was born in the States. His name was Dr. Greskey. He was a large animal practitioner. Well, he had a small animal hospital that he paid a guy to run, but I was working with large animals with him. There were times that being an alien in the States, and the War, and being this German family that I was with, there were times I had to hold my tongue.
But, this being held up in Detroit on the way over, they told me I could go ahead, they let me go ahead to where I was goin’, but they said, “You’ll be hearing from us.” And about a month after I got back to College in the fall, I was in contact with them in Chicago. They said that immigration was here looking for you. But they let me stay all summer.
I Yeh, and d’you suppose that was because you had intended to work for somebody of German origin.
C No, I don’t think so, I don’t think so. They didn’t know anything about who I was working for, – well, they knew the name. I give them the name but they didn’t know anything about that.
I And was that the only summer that you spent working for a veterinarian, during your time at OVC?
C No. That was between my third and fourth year. Between my first and second year, this friend Dr. Gamble, had already graduated. He was a third year student when I started, but he and I practiced down where he lived for two or three months.
I When you were at the Veterinary College, was there anything outstanding that happened during your stay at the College proper? I mean in class or out of class?
C I really can’t recall anything that stayed with me.
I No? There weren’t any student demonstrations or anything of that kind?
C The initiation ceremony was very quiet.
I I see. And were there any professors that you particularly admire, or particularly had other feelings for?
C Well, Dr. Fowler was our President, and he was the first professor that lectured to us as freshmen, and I really respected Dr. Fowler. Dr. Fowler was chairman of the Hospital Board in Guelph – the General Hospital – Dr. Fowler…and I had the
misfortune or good fortune to have an operation there and he came in to see me every day in Guelph – during my stay in the hospital, and I appreciated that very much.
I Did you have a good social life while you were at OVC?
C Well, I’ve always had a good social life (Chuckle). No problems with that, Rod.
I Very, good, Lloyd. Lloyd did you get married during the time you’re at school?
C No. No, I got married at in October following graduation.
I Very good. Were the classes very large at that time?
C Well, there were about fifty in our class. We had the honour of having the third woman graduate in our class – Edith Williams. She was the third woman after – oh, what was her name – Scholtz, was the first and then, the little girl from Hamilton, her brother, Wilf was a Vet, too - Rumney – Jean Rumney. She was the second. They’ve had a few since though.
I There have been a few since, Lloyd, in fact (Chuckle) it’s swung the other way. When you were at school were there very many Veterans already in the course?
C There were a few Veterans who started, while I was there.
I And, I imagine that became more and more so.
C Yes. The years from ’45 to ’48 (graduation years ’49 -’52) had a lot of Veterans, and they were larger classes.
I And the course didn’t become 5 years until 1949 (Graduation year OVC’54)
C I was lucky it didn’t take me five or six.
I I’m sure it was no problem for you. Who was the principal or they call it the Dean now, but I believe they called it the Principal of the Veterinary College.
C Well, Dr. McGilvray was the Principal, and he died in 1940, I think, and what was his name took over…McNabb? McGilvray was Principal when I graduated. I know that.
At our Convocation in Toronto, at the University of Toronto… in Convocation Hall in Toronto we went up alphabetically to get our degree from Sir William Mullock, and chap ahead of me was Colgate, then Coleman came next…and I walked up and I stood there but he – McGilvray was calling the names out and he didn’t call my name, he called Codlin, he called another one and – he looked up
and he seen me standing there, and he says, “Oh, Coleman there.” He says, “We bloody near forgot ya.”
I And he misplaced your certificate?
C Oh, no. He just gave out anyone’s certificate, and we sorted them out later. He got me out of rotation, anyway.
C And so I remember he was – he was still Dean in ’41. He had a wonderful memory – McGilvray. I went to – to see him about coming to Vet College when I was taking that Dairy Short Course and when I came back to register, in September, 1937, I went in to his office – he says, “Oh, Coleman, you’re just back. I’m glad to see ya’.” He knew my name right off the bat.
I And they’ve now named a street after him at the University, and his son went through Veterinary College and became quite well known. Roy McGilvray was a small animal practitioner in Toronto
C Knew him well. I sat on the Council with him, and he was my Vice-president, when I was President of the Veterinary Association, but when he came time to step up, he decided he didn’t want to be the President.
I So, now you graduated in 1941, class of OVC’41, and what did you do immediately after graduation, Lloyd?
C Immediately after graduation, I went to Almonte, Ontario. The veterinarian in Almonte – Dr. Pilkey – wanted to go out West, for the summer, and he says, “You look after my practice”, he says, “Use my drugs, use everything here.” He says,” Whatever you make is yours.” He says, “You just look after my practice.” But looking after his practice, also entailed being secretary of the Almonte Agricultural Fair. Anyway it was a good experience. So, I worked there for the summer, and he came back in September and I got married in October and moved to Kemptville, Ontario to start my own practice.
I And was it strictly large animals or was it partly small animals?
C Oh there was small animals that I did but no more than I could help. I couldn’t treat the owners very good.
I So it was basically a farm practice. And how many years did you carry on there, Lloyd?
C I promised myself when I started it, that I’d put in twenty years, but I lasted twenty–three, before I decided to accept an offer from the Provincial Government.
I And during that time you did primarily large animals, but had some small animals?
C I spayed bitches and vaccinated them and stuff like that, but here were no rules about what equipment you had to have and that sort of thing, in those days.
I And did you enjoy it?
C Oh, yes very much.
I I imagine that you were up late at night for calls quite often?
C Oh, yes, lots of that – night calls and running out there doing emergency calls in the middle of the night. Let me tell you about one I had.
One of my clients had a stud horse that he traveled the country with, breeding mares, but, this stud horse, about every three, four months used to get a dose of colic, and we were taught back then, when there was a colic case to get there quick before it got better, so you’d get the credit for curing it. Anyway this night about one o’clock in the morning, this stud horse had a history of having colic every month or so, and this night the phone rang and the I recognized the voice as being the hired man of the of the owner of the stud horse…and all the guy said, “Well, he’s got it again.” So I tear out there in the middle of the night and blow the horn and the hired man comes out and says, “What are you doing here doc?” I says, “You just called me.” He says, “Oh, no.” He says, “I called doctor – the medical doctor.” He says, “It’s Byron, the owner that’s sick.”
He’d a history of being sick too. And he got the wrong number. He said, “He’s got it again doc.” So I said, “I’ll be right out.”
I I’ll bet the stud horse was just fine then?
C Nothing wrong with the stud horse. But I didn’t charge him for a call either.
I Oh. That’s very good of you. I imagine that hired man might have been fired.
C I don’t know. I think he was just a boarder – he was working for his board and room.
I I see. Were there any other incidents that you can recall that were interesting or amusing like that, Lloyd?
C Well, I shouldn’t tell you about this one. It was a small animal call. Anyways, it all started out in the Spencerville Hotel in the men’s beverage room. On the way back one day, I stopped to have a beer in the hotel and a chap that I knew quite well – the son of a client of mine, was there and he was quite a faithful consumer, and he was pretty well loaded and he come over to me and he says, “ Doc”, he says, “I’ve got a job for you.” He says - slurring his words - “ My wife’s got
three cats, and she says they’re all buggin’ her” he says, “I want you to fix ‘em” I took it to mean he wanted me to put them to sleep. That he wanted to get rid of the cats. So I said, “Fine, Harvey”. I just said, “That’s fine” - just to get rid of him. I didn’t want to talk anymore in the beverage room, but, anyway, it was a month later, the phone rings - on the Halloween night – at home, and it’s Harvey – this guy…he says, “’Member me talking to you about those cat – about a month ago?” “Yes Harvey,” I says. “Come on, bring them in.” And I’d probably had a drink or two Halloween night. “Sure, bring them back, to-night.” So he lands in with three cats, about seven o’clock or so. So, “Bring them in, Harvey.” He goes out and gets one. I give it a shot of nembutal and laid it over on the table or on the floor or someplace, and says, “Get another one.” He goes out to get another one – and did the same thing and he brought the third one in and when I stopped after I shoved the needle in the third one, he says, “Doc, when will these cats wake up?”
I says, “Harvey, wake up? What in hell are you talking about?”
I So, that was a bit hard to explain.
C I said, “I thought you wanted to get rid of them.” Anyways, that’s not the end of the story. The time he brought the third one in, his wife came with him, and she was pregnant…and she got excited – didn’t say a damn word, and the two of them left. I understand that she got so excited that she had a miscarriage, but – I get a phone call about an hour or so after that. I’d already taken the three cats and put them out in the garbage can, and in the garbage can was the remains of the pumpkin that had been – that had been cleaned out for Halloween, so, she called and said they wanted the cats back – the bodies back – wanted the three cats. It took me quite a while to get all the pumpkin seeds off the bodies…but, anyway, they took the three cats. So it was a lesson anyway. I learned to be damned sure that you knew what they wanted done.
I thought what they meant was that the cats were a nuisance, and they wanted to get rid of them.
I It was a good thing that lawsuits weren’t as prevalent in those days as they are now. It was just a case of misunderstanding.
C That’s right. And if it hadn’t happened, on a Halloween night, if I hadn’t had a couple of drinks that night that wouldn’t have happened. Anyway, we can’t all be right all the time.
I …we’ve all made mistakes, and that’s a dandy. So did you send her some flowers, or anything like that?
C No. No way. No way. I don’t remember ever… well, I think I seen him again, but I don’t think I ever seen his wife again. She wouldn’t have probably spoken to me anyway.
I He still remained a client?
C Oh, yes, the father was a client. He was just a kind of a happy-go-lucky son of this cattle dealer, that I think he spent most of his time in the hotel, anyway.
I Oh, my gosh. Isn’t that – that is an amazing story, Lloyd. (Laughter) Things are changed. Good that that happened back then. You get a signature for what you want done, now.
What decided you to change from your practice and join the government, Lloyd?
C Well as I told you, I’d – gave myself twenty years to practice, What brought it to a head, the “foot and mouth” outbreak in the early1960. In ’63, the chap that I had working for me, decided that he’d go work with the Federal Government…in the “foot and mouth” outbreak out West and he just left without notice. I was alone and the export testing kind of disappeared, no exports because of Foot & Mouth, and left us without a very lucrative source of income.
I see the advertisement in one of the magazines that the Provincial Government-OMAF wanted a swine specialist. So, I knew a few things about sick pigs, so I applied, and I didn’t think anything more about it. I guess around three or four months – or a couple of months – I had gone over to Chicago, to work at the International Livestock Exposition as the Assistant Veterinarian there, and when I got back, my wife said, “They were calling you from Toronto – about an appointment of a job.” And I hadn’t even told her I’d applied.
I just said, “I’ll send them the application”. So, I phoned Dr. Worton in Toronto. He “said get up here, we got a guy we don’t want to hire. We want to interview you.”
I Oh, very good. Lloyd, just getting back to your practice for a moment, how long did you work alone, before you hired an assistant?
C I had three or four students over the years, but this veterinarian that I had was the first veterinarian that I hired.
I I see. And for the most part were the student a big help to you?
C Oh, I’d say yes. I’d no problem with them.
I Well you had to teach them a lot I imagine?
C Well, they taught me something, too.
I Well, they were up to date?
I Lloyd, did you enjoy working for the Veterinary Services Branch of OMAF, the Ontario Government. What did you do for them?
C Well, I got three or four different projects. I was instrumental in developing legislation for the “Pregnant Mare Urine. Act” that was in force, and I did work on the “Riding Horse Establishment Act”, as well as the “Livestock Medicines Act”. Well, I did the ground-work prior to developing the legislation.
I also looked after the Veterinary Assistance in Northern Ontario, so, I used to travel up there and visit each committee that ran the Subsidized Practices, for each area, very year.
I had a very interesting eighteen or twenty years with the Provincial Government.
I So you were in it with them almost as long as you had been in practice?
C I retired in ’82, and I worked for another five years under contract with them.
I So all together, as a veterinarian one way or another, you worked for close to fifty years?
C I was ’41 to ’87.
I Good heavens, yes. Yes, that’s remarkable. That’s a long time.
C I had a lot of fun and met a lot of guys – I was five years on the OVA Council and President in ’62.
I Yes. I was going to ask you about that, Lloyd.
C Well, I ran for the Council, the OVA Council. I didn’t win the first year I tried. A Health of Animals guy got it. The next year, it came up I ran again and I got in.
I And how many years were you on that?
C Three years anyway, as Councilor you serve three years, I think. I ran another of the campaigns for re-election. I was President in ’62, so I was probably four or five years on OVA Council.
1962 was the year that was a hundred years for the Anniversary at the College. Very nice leading the AVMA at an early meeting of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association that met there at the Collage in ’62. We had a big parade for the hundred years and beards and all that stuff.
I Do you recall who was President of the CVMA at that time?
C I can’t really recall who was President of CVMA that year
I No? Because I know that Don McDonald was President at some time around there, but I can’t recall at what year either. You and he were good friends.
Were you ever involved with the CVMA, or any other veterinary organization?
C Oh, just the Central Canada Veterinary Association. But I never really served on the Council. I just went to meetings.
Well there was another association that used to meet at the Animal Diseases Research Institute all the time, and, d’you remember what they called that Ron?
D The ADRI.
C Oh, it’s the Animal Diseases Research Institute. The Central Lab. It was in Hull, then. Charlie Mitchell ran it.
I Wasn’t anything to do with that that island in the St. Lawrence that they had the animals.
C Oh, no. That was Gros Ilse, down at Quebec City.
I Sorry, that’s my mistake.
Were there any highlights during that time, that you recall during the time you worked for OMAF Lloyd, I mean, sort of, like your ones in practice? Any besides the legislation that you undertook.
C No I don’t think there’s anything that I can recall that was very outstanding.
I Did you enjoy that as much as practice?
C Oh, I think so…the hours were better…and I enjoyed traveling all over the province. I got a few trips out West “mouthing” steers at the Calgary Exhibition. I did that a couple of years. I “mouthed” the steers at the Royal Winter Fair four or five, six, maybe eight or ten years.
I And you retired in what year from the Ontario Provincial -Government?
C That was ’82, but as I say, I worked another five years after that, so it was ’87 when I finished.
During that time I was associated with the project in Indonesia, that The Veterinary Branch of OMAF ran for CIDA.
I wasn’t over there, but I was their contact person here for looking after the people from Indonesia, that came here for training.
I Could you enlarge on that, a little bit, Lloyd? The CIDA Project? What that was?
C Well, it was to establish a veterinary laboratory at Yogyakarta, and the late Jim Henry was really in charge of it. And I worked with him, here in Guelph, but looking after the interests of the – the Veterinary Students, or people, some of them were Veterinarians – coming to work in the VSB laboratories or go to Graduate School here or in Saskatoon. I introduced a few of them to snow. They had never seen it before
I And so, Lloyd, in your retirement, after ’87, what have you been doing since then? Have you been enjoying life?
C Oh, yes. Been a faithful member of the Guelph-Wellington Men’s Club.
I’m a fifty years a Past Master of the Masonic Lodge in Guelph and in Kemptville. I haven’t been very active, but I’ve kept the dues paid up for over fifty years. I’ve been fifty years since I was a Master. I went back down to Kemptville this spring, and they give me a nice welcome and that.
I Very good!! And what prompted you to move to Guelph.
C Well, that’s a long story. I moved to Toronto to work with the government, but there were family problems. That’s the reason I came to Guelph’
I Ron, are there any questions that you’d like to ask Llyod?
D It’s my understanding that you had an involvement with the VSB, Ontario Meat Inspection Programme?
C Not really. Not really. I almost got to do some Meat Inspection, when the technicians thought they were going to have a strike, one time and I’m glad that they didn’t, because Meat Inspection was never my forte.
D And the Sales Barn?
C Well, I was interested in the Sales Barn Inspection.
D That’s where I probably ran into you, was in the Sales Barn Project. It was probably in one of the Sales Barns, I met you, recently.
D Are you an athlete, Lloyd? Did you get involved, going back to school days now.
C I played football, while I was in High School, and I played junior hockey, but when I came to Veterinary College, I decided that it was more important that I make sure, my first year, that I was here, that I got what I was supposed to absorb and not play football, but I did go out for hockey. But the operation that I spoke of, interfered with that, so I never really did any college sports, other than “elbow bending”.
D Subsequent to graduation, anything like curling or other sports?
C Oh, yes, I played badminton, here for years ’til I wore out my hip, and now I have a new hip.
D Are you musical?
C Good question. Well, you know, I like to listen to it.
D I’m good at playing the radio.
C Well, it needs to be up pretty loud now, for me.
D You don’t play other – other instruments, though?
C No. No. I was just telling somebody, the other day, we were talking about a piano, and I said, that’s how I became a pool player, when I was in Carleton Place, the money that my mother give me for piano lessons, I used to play pool with.
D That’s a good one. I think that’s a pretty good interview.