ALUMNI- IN-ACTION ORAL HISTORY
MARJORIE WALL, MAC ‘68
Macdonald Institute, 1968
Interviewed by Ruth I. Wilson
November 16, 2005
R This is an interview with Marjorie Wall of Mac ’68. It is being recorded by Ruth Wilson, Mac ’62 on November 16 for the Alumni-in-Action Group of the University of Guelph Alumni Association. Before we talk about your student days at Macdonald Institute, can you tell me something about your life before you came to Guelph?
M Well, I came from a farm near Woodstock, Ontario – just north of Woodstock – small community called Huntingford. That was where I was born and grew up. My father was a farmer - primarily dairy, but mixed farming. My mother had been a nurse, prior to marriage and didn’t practise again, but was kind of a nurse to lots of people in the community and to us, none-the-less. I attended a one-room schoolhouse for (chuckle) first eight grades of my education which I completed in seven years, not eight. And I even had started early because I was a January baby, and my mother, I guess, was getting tired of me being at home or something. As I realized, once I started school when I was five, in grade one – there was no kindergarten – she had a baby that fall. I think that was another impetus to get me off to school. But, I needed to. I was ready for it. As a result, I ended up starting high school as a twelve year-old in Woodstock at Huron Park Secondary School which was a relatively new school when I began there, and grew – just tremendously. And I think I was – and it showed throughout a lot of parts of things that happened to me – I was at the front end of the “Baby Boom” after the Second World War, having been born in 1947. And the High School grew – just a huge amount while I was there – started out at several hundred and was over a thousand by the time I completed grade thirteen, and then went off to Guelph, which was the Federated Colleges as I started, but became the University of Guelph almost immediately. Think it actually – when I did a little bit of research a few years ago – it was incorporated as a university in June of 1964, and I began classes in the fall of ’64. But it seemed to me, as I remember, it was really the following year that we really thought of it as the University of Guelph – from thereon in, when we started our second year in 1965, then it was the University of Guelph, as opposed to the Federated Colleges, at that point.
R When you finished high school, had you always expected to go on to university?
M Certainly by the time I was in the senior years of high school, I expected to go to university, and I was the first one in my family who did. I came from a family of six children. I had four brothers – two older brothers, two younger brothers. And by the time I left for – well even by the time I was in high school, I had a sister as well, so there was a lot of us. And half of us in the end all went to university – all went to the University of Guelph. But I was the first one.
R So what were the factors that influenced you to go to Guelph?
M I think partly because I was from a rural community and didn’t really even know people who went to university to any degree, other than meeting, say, teachers in high school. It wasn’t a part of my family background. My mother had a lot of education for her time, as a nurse, but it still wasn’t university. I probably by then had a couple of cousins who had attended universities, but they weren’t ones that I was close to. They were older and didn’t live nearby. So, amongst rural community, the University of Guelph was highly regarded – very highly regarded. There were the Agricultural Reps and the Home Economists and I’d done a lot of 4H work, so I’d been exposed to people like that – through that avenue. And a younger neighbour, whom I particularly knew more from 4H background, as a leader, their daughter had gone to Macdonald Institute. I liked that kind of area. I’d always taken some Home Economics as well as doing 4H. So I liked it. My other choice was medical. And I thought I would be a nurse, for the longest time. My mother had been a nurse, but she suggested – she didn’t really think nursing was the best career to pick – that you’re always the – she termed it – “the doctors’ handmaiden”. (Chuckle) But interestingly at that time – the mid-sixties – no one was saying to me – or early sixties really when you’re making up your mind – why don’t you consider being a medical doctor. As a female, that just wasn’t being said to me by family or by guidance teachers or anyone. So, Home Economics was my other interest, so that’s where I went.
R What were your expectations of Macdonald Institute?
M Well, I think from hearing about it from other people who had been there, I expected – and reading also, of course, what I was going to take – I was expecting quite a rigorous education, which proved to be true. I remember needing all those sciences to be admitted, and interestingly, I did not take grade thirteen physics. You were supposed to have grade thirteen chemistry and physics. And in the high school I attended, the same rather gruff, grouchy (chuckle) teacher taught chemistry and physics, and so I thought, “I really don’t think I want to do this – both courses with him”, and took biology, which actually was even two courses – botany and zoology, from a woman teacher, whom I really liked, and ended up having to do the physics sort of course in first year. That was for people who didn’t have grade thirteen physics. And somebody must have given me enough advice – I don’t remember it now – that that was possible – that as long as my grades were high, if I didn’t have that physics out of grade thirteen, they would still admit me. That’s the only place I applied as well, and my Dad - I couldn’t apply to other programmes. I remember we visited the University of Waterloo before I made up my mind, finally, and I didn’t think much of it, (Chuckle) when I visited it way back then. Looked too much like a high school to me at that time. So, it’s probably about the size it was, too, with some buildings that looked very much the same, and I thought Guelph was beautiful. That was another part of it – just beautiful – the place – the campus. And places like the University of Toronto were just too far away for me. I was a – kind of a shy, country girl, I think, and I was only seventeen when I went away to university, as well. So I think that all played a part in these decisions.
R OK can you tell us a little bit about campus life – for instance, what kind of expenses were there, to living on campus, or did you live on campus?
M Oh yes. I think, at that point, 1964, the University was still small enough that they were offering residence to everyone who entered the first semester across the Federated Colleges, which was who we all were then – it was Macdonald Institute, Veterinary College, and OAC. And so there was residence space to accommodate everybody at that time. The following year Wellington College then began admitting students. And I think it maybe started to change then – of course, then they started building a lot more space, too. So, I lived in Macdonald Hall. I actually lived on the second floor, right above Miss Kidd’s apartment. She was the Dean of Women at that time. Used to try and – well, I had a roommate who- you were just assigned whomever you got was who you got – and we were both probably a bit shyer and quieter types. We still got up to a little bit of mischief, because we had OAC students living next door to us - and we used to – once in a while – jump up and down late at night and then turn our lights off and we were in bed asleep. We thought they were up studying. They’d get into trouble. (Chuckle) One of those was Roberta Bondar. She was our next door neighbour.
M So now she’ll know if she ever knows this was recorded.
R What did you think of Mac Hall at the time?
M It was interesting. It had a lot of rules – which were good for me, because, at that time, I – as I recall roughly, male students outnumbered female by maybe four or five to one, and we were always being phoned – and there was only one phone in the hall, on the level two, so it wasn’t like to-day. It’s so much different, isn’t it? But a lot of phone calls and you’d end up going to the coffee shop with whomever, and I think I’ve even told my daughters this, that there was the odd evening I probably went out with a couple or three different coffee dates, and this was a lot of what happened in that first year. It seemed as though the Mac girls were sort of prime targets – to check them out. So, the rules were good because we had to be in through the week nights by eleven pm, I believe, and we only got to stay out ‘til maybe mid-night or something on Friday night and one am on Saturday night – something along those lines – and there were a limited number of nights – can’t even remember how many now – but maybe four – something that they called “Key Nights” through the whole year – where you actually could stay out later. So it was pretty regimented, and no men were allowed beyond the Common Rooms on the first floor – other than on the Mac formal night, and then the rules were – “Doors open and both feet on the floor”. (Laughter) I remember that. So, we had a good time, but, it was done in a way that – yeh – it was good for me, because I hadn’t done much in the way of dating, or anything before I came to university. I was pretty young – just a little bit – and then when I came to university, I really sort of blossomed forth – I guess – had fun, but it was all good fun. Managed to get all the studies done, too. You could still do quite a bit of work, after eleven o’clock – if you needed to. And so I made it through that, and so, only lived in residence the first year, and then in apartments of various types from thereon in. A couple were basement apartments in houses in the area, and then, finally my final year we were in an apartment building, with roommates.
R The meals. Where did you have your meals?
M Creelman Hall
R What was the procedure there then?
M You stood in line and got whatever they were making – you know – “mystery meat #7” and that sort of thing- is the kind of name we used to give them. I think people talked about how there’d been these funny trays, but those had been gotten rid of by the time I started, and we were served on ordinary plates, with regular cafeteria trays to put all your cutlery and plates on. But the food sometimes did seem a little bit starchy and I guess I must have liked it all right ‘cause I gained weight in first year. I lost it after that, but I did gain weight.
R OK who was the Dean in residence at that time?
M That was Miss Frances Kidd was the Dean of Women and she managed Macdonald Hall residence. Yes. She taught us a course too, I believe…
R Did she?
M …psychology - introductory psychology .
R So, how many courses where there – like how many branches, or options would you have?
M I specialized – and I think you did this sort of in your second year, not the first – not even sure when in the second year – whether it was really third year, you had – absolutely by the end of second year, you had to have a specialization. So you have a general education in the first and second year without a lot of choices in terms of – everyone was doing all of the areas, and I ended up specializing in “Textiles, Clothing and Design”. There was also, the “Food and Nutrition” area, the “Early Childhood Education” or “Child Studies”. I’m not sure what they were actually calling it, at that point. I think we had that as a specialization. I remember there’s “Home Management” was another one. Those are the ones that I can think of – right now. So we didn’t really pick those until your third and fourth year, that you did your specialty courses. I think “Foods and Nutrition”, Home Management” and “Textiles and Clothing and Design” were the primary ones. And I’m trying to remember whether we even really had the “Early Childhood” at that point. That may have been – I’m getting confused – we started that after 1970, when the College changed into “Family and Consumer Studies”. So, yeh, that that’s how we were really being educated to be Home Economists. So you might have a specialization, but you’d also studied quite a lot of each of those other areas – the nutrition and then, food and management and all those things had been studied – as well.
R And why did you choose the “Clothing, Textile and Design”?
M Well, it was something I’d always enjoyed. I’d always done a lot of sewing. I’d liked Textiles, as well. I’d in high school managed always to take Home Economics, even though in the high school I attended, it wasn’t offered past grade ten, to a five-year academic. They managed to put it together for a handful of us – the teacher did – to allow us to still continue to take it. It was primarily by then, intended for the four-year programme, in grade eleven and twelve, but we took it anyway. And I enjoyed it. And then as a way of summer jobs, I had to find something, so at the end of my first year of university, I ended up working in a kitchen in Ontario Hospital in Woodstock. I ended up being “thrown into the deep end”, you might say. I started the job – and here again – you know eighteen years old, but I don’t tell anybody that. I never did tell anyone my age – usually at that point, because – didn’t really think they needed to think I was that young. And I started the job, and two weeks later, the Head Dietician went off for surgery, so I ended up doing all the food requisitioning for this hospital. Now, it’s a chronic care hospital, so it’s not like being in a general hospital where things would be changing so rapidly, but all the diets were pretty steady, in terms of what you did, and I could figure them out. I don’t think I ever did any harm to anybody. But, I did decide that that wasn’t really the kind of area I wanted to work in – in the long term. I think when I started to Guelph, though, I really had the intention of being a high school teacher. That was my general intention in the back of my mind – that I would graduate at the end of the four-year programme with my Bachelor of Household Science and then attend teacher’s college. But that changed. Things changed. Do you want me to go there now or later?
R We’ll go there later if you are OK with that. You took subjects with the OAC - faculty?
M We did, but not very many of the courses were in combination with OAC students. We were a large class, by the standards then. In fact, as I recall, it was the largest class they’d ever taken in Macdonald Institute. And I went back and looked at the picture, so that I could get some feeling for it. And there were eighty-five of us that – no ninety-five of us. I’m sorry – ninety-five of us who were admitted. And I think again, it was because of this “Baby Boom” group was really starting to be felt in the system, at that stage. So, we generally had our own class group for many of the courses – chemistries and biologies and so forth. OAC would be taking the same courses, but they formed their own big group too. Everything had been increased in numbers, so they would have their own sections. We had our own sections. The only thing I recall taking in combination was - we took physiology in the Vet College and we had a group of other students in with that, but I can’t remember who they were. There were some – the few men that were in the room anyway. Most of them were us, and we used to get teased that were being given this special Mac course in Chemistry, or whatever. Which wasn’t really true, but we were teased that way.
R Were there any professors that you remember particularly, for their teaching, for their personality, or even for their eccentricities?
M Oh, I’m sure there were. (Chuckle). Let me think. Well, somebody I remember who taught us a course in a certain kind of a way was Margaret McCready. She didn’t really teach a credit course. It was called “Orientation”, and it was the first semester of our first year. I’m not sure we were even called “semesters” then. I think we were still “terms” for that first year, and then we became semestered when we were in second year, and it was the University of Guelph. At any rate, she taught us this “Orientation” course, which, was an hour a week of Margaret McCready talking to us. And she was an amazing woman. And some of the things she did included, teaching us an awful lot about “Women’s Rights” and the history of Women’s Rights. I can remember in that course watching the film of the suffragettes, who threw themselves in front of the horses, or something like that at the time of – dating a way back – pre World War I, or right around then. And it was a real movie of that time, so it was a little black and white jerky movie of news clip, I guess , or something along that line – of this happening. There was just a lot of things like that that she would talk about, and she was committed to better life for I think everyone, but, particularly that women should be out there – accomplishing, and exercising - of course – their democratic rights, for sure. And I did look at the Libranni that was from my year – I have others, but I did read that one. I don’t know if I’ve ever read it before. Margaret McCready’s little letter to the graduates in 1968 – my class. And talking about the world needing us, in terms of poverty, inequality in the world – this sort of thing – how this was part of our mandate as graduates of Macdonald Institute – to “help create a better life for families and communities”. Those are some of the words she used.
R She was quite a role model?
M She was a very strong one, I think. Interestingly, before I left high school, a math teacher I had – whom I happened to like a lot – quiet man, but when he heard I was going there he said he had met Margaret McCready, and she was just a wonderful woman. He thought we’d be getting a wonderful education there. So that’s one person I remember. George Fuller is another one I remember. He taught Design. And I just enjoyed him as a teacher. He had us doing all kinds of things that – I always had a slightly artistic flare, but I never would have thought it was a very strong one, but he had us sketching things and they looked like what they were supposed to look like – things like that that he taught us, and just enjoyed his classes. They were laboratory-style classes, and I just enjoyed them. So he was a good model. Had a chemistry professor I really liked, who I think might have retired recently, but he was young. He may not have. It was George Elliott. And we had him for biochemistry, in our second year, and it was probably about his first or second year of teaching. So he was a newly minted PhD. And I remember him teaching us about DNA and all that kind of thing – the newest sort of theories, and I remember in a biology class that was going on at the same time, we were taught a different thing – and someone standing up and saying, but Professor Elliott says that da, da, da,da,da duh… and the biology professor dismissing that – and so ended up learning the older theory (chuckle) for one class and the newer theory for the other class – and I think the newer theory did prevail, you know in the longer run. It was (chuckle) true. It is still considered to be true, so, those are some I can remember. There were lots of others, though.
R Did you find that they were approachable, on the whole?
M By and large. Yes. I’m trying to think if there was anyone who ever terrorized us to the point where we didn’t approach him, but not really. If we felt we needed to ask questions, I think the professors at that time were – we’re smaller classes overall – even when all of us went to class – relative to to-day’s class sizes – you know we are talking about eighty or so people in a classroom in introductory whatever, chemistry, or anything like that. And now that would be considered a lucky thing to ever hit that in a first semester course. So, you generally felt – and then you’d have laboratories in a lot of these courses, too, where you might see the professor for some of that – teaching assistants as well. Overall, I think they were approachable.
R Who from Faculty was your year’s Honorary Class President?
M Well, I looked that up too, and it was George Fuller and his wife Jane – a team. Jane, interestingly, had been the Proctor right across the hall from me in my first year in Mac Hall, and then she had become an instructor in the Clothing Area, and, when George Fuller arrived on the scene, I guess they met and (chuckle) you can sort of figure out the rest. Yeh.
R Would you describe a typical day for us – sort of from when you got up in the morning in your first year?
M First Year. Well that was interesting in a sense because it changed a lot as the year wore on. And certainly in second year. I still was part of the traditional Mac Institute as it had been – I think it had changed a bit, but all those rules in Mac Hall, they also in Mac Institute included that there were no slacks allowed – no trousers – no slacks were worn to class. So we had to go to class in skirts and stockings and that area, when you were going to chemistry, which was in the old chemistry building that stood where - it is the Arts building and McKinnon that’s there now. I have no idea what they were doing to us in that place, because when you came out- the fume hoods and so forth weren’t good enough anymore- your stockings would have little holes in them from the chemicals that were just floating in the air – literally free acids and whatever else. So, you’d have a lot of classes, I think – typically there were thirty-some odd hours of class per week, because you had laboratories. So, maybe not forty, but certainly in the mid-thirties – of class-hours per week. So, you were often attending classes from eight or nine in the morning until five in the afternoon – with maybe lunch in there somewhere, and so forth. What else? That was part of it. Anyway a big part of it. I remember all the labs. (Chuckle)
M And there would be labs in chemistry, but we would have labs in our food classes, labs in our clothing classes, design classes, all those areas. And that added up to quite a few class hours.
R In terms of class hours, was attendance or roll call ever…?
M Oh, yes. That was pretty typically kept track of - by some professors more than others. But, it wasn’t something you did much then of cutting classes. I can remember an eight a.m. microbiology course that I didn’t always go to, and I can’t – that might have been second year – not first, because the professor more or less read the text-book. And if you bought a text-book that was already highlighted with an underliner from the year before, you pretty much knew what was going to happen. (Chuckle) That would probably be one of the professors who did the least educating in my memory.
R Were there any special events relating to the academic programme – for instance did you have the “practice apartment” at that time?
M Yes. We did. That was in third year. We went into the Home Management Apartment. There were actually two apartments, when we went in – there was the low income apartment, which was along the hallway as you headed to the original wing. And then there was the main apartment, which was all across the back of that 1950’s wing at the building. And we spent three weeks in there all together – a week of low income, and two weeks of regular. Low income - I think that’s kind of funny in a way, but we had to plan all our meals using very low cost kinds of food and so forth – powdered milk and that kind of thing. (Chuckle)
R So what were your responsibilities in the apartment, besides the meals?
M Well, those are the things – the meals are the things you remember the most – but we essentially had to run the place in the sense of the shopping, the meal preparation, the washing and – we had to entertain – and we were living there and attending classes. So, trying to remember more than that – I don’t know. We had our duties kind of divided up as to who was doing what, any given day. I can remember there being one student – a particular classmate, who didn’t know how to run a washing machine. I thought that was kind of funny, but she didn’t. Guess she knew after she left the apartment. It was kind of fun. We would entertain some professors – out of other programmes – you know – out of our other courses – economics and chemistry and so forth. At least that’s what we decided to do anyway. We argued – we had some latitude as to who we invited, so, we decided we’d invite our professors from our non-Macdonald Institute courses, and entertain them. And some of them were quite bowled-over by that. (Chuckle)
R I bet they were. What did you feel about the over all programme? The areas that it covered for example? Foods, sewing and so on.
M Well, you know, it was always sort of teased about – that you were in the “Diamond Ring” course and all that – and that you were going to get your “MRS” degree, and so forth, but, it was a pretty rigorous education, when all was said and done. With all those class hours, it meant you were taking a lot of subject matter, so, you could look at the sciences – when you finished the four years, I think I could have been a science teacher in high school. I would have had enough chemistry to have taught chemistry in high school, for example, because I took chemistry every year I was there – every semester, but one, I believe. And – of course, because I was in the Textile area, that required more chemistry than some of the – say, Home Management specialization wouldn’t have had as much, but, the Nutrition people certainly, I think, would have. So, there were a lot of basic science courses involved – physical sciences as well as biological sciences, and social sciences, too, because we took sociology and psychology and economics – those were all a part of what we took. I think the main thing that we didn’t actually have in that programme was a mathematical or statistical component. The reason I noticed that was, when I went on to do graduate work, I had to go back and get that.
R OK Changing the focus a little bit, what extracurricular activities such as music, athletics, drama – and so on – were you involved in?
M Well, music was one, because I had been involved with that in high school – in choir and so forth, so I joined the choir. Sang in that. I can’t remember – I don’t think it was all four years, but probably at least three of the four. I wasn’t as involved as maybe some people, in terms of sports, athletics – anything like that. But, I was always involved in College Royal. That was something I really enjoyed – the Fashion Show – I always participated in that, and helped organize some of the displays and that kind of thing.
M And – I don’t know. Beyond that I think I just enjoyed myself at university, by and large.
R Were there any societies or organizations that you belonged to? – besides College Royal?
M No. I think the choir and College Royal are the main ones I can remember.
R OK. What parties, banquets , receptions or other social events took place on campus while you were there?
M Well, those I took part in. I think maybe I was making up for (Chuckle) not having been so involved in high school, too in that sort of thing. We had several formals each year. There would be the Mac Hall Formal, there was a university wide formal called “Coversat”. There would be the College Royal Ball. All of those things, I always went to the mall, sewed a new dress for every one of them, and all that kind of thing. And then, besides that, I guess there were lots of dances going on- on a regular basis. That’s basically how I met my husband – at a dance - well, the person, who’d become my husband I met at a dance.
R Right. Were you involved at all in the planning of any of these activities?
M A little bit, but not – I wasn’t a major - I was pretty shy when I started to university, and young, as I might have said. So, these were things that developed gradually for me – not just – I wasn’t oriented strongly that way. There were some in our class that were at the forefront of everything – just, you know – all the way. I had to kind of gain confidence, so I would help, but just in that manner - just the helper. (Chuckle)
R Did you take part in any things downtown in Guelph – for instance Church, shopping, movies?
M Oh, yes. I attended church occasionally, at St. Georges – ‘cause that was my background. Shopping – well we ended up - there wasn’t a lot of other choices. (chuckle) I don’t think downtown Guelph was exactly a rip-roaring mecca of shopping, but particularly because I was involved with the clothing courses, I would buy fabric down there. I remember a place called “Armstrongs” that sold fabric – that was really an interesting store, too. I think there’s a – well, there was up until a few years ago – it still may be down there – a shop that actually has one of the Armstrong pieces of furniture that had been in it. It was a huge – huge, huge, huge oak – sort of display – I don’t know – case of some sort, with drawers, and – just all kinds of things – and yeh, Armstong’s was an interesting place and would order in fabric for you, and – of all kinds – I don’t know where you’d even begin to find anything that could come close to that anymore. I suppose in certain really specialized large stores in Toronto, you might be able to get some of the fabrics we got then, but – they were pretty amazing.
R Hmhm. Tell me about your graduation day.
M Well, it was in June – I remember that. And it was in War Memorial Hall at that point - and my parents came, and my younger siblings came, and it was beautiful day. I can remember – I have a picture from that day – though I don’t quite remember the event, but we were actually given graduation awards on that day, because I’m wearing the dress that I wore for graduation – which was 1968 – and it was a white lace dress with a rather high neck, long sleeves, fitted A-line, mini-dress. (Chuckle) - not micro-mini, but mini – well above my knees. And there I am receiving this “William Stewart Award” – from Mrs. Stewart. So…
R Did you wear gowns, caps,…?
M Yes. We wore gowns over top – no caps.
R No caps .
M Just gowns – and then we were “hooded” by the Chancellor.
R Who was the Chancellor at that time?
M I think it was George Drew - I believe.
R OK Were there any other events associated with that graduation day? Besides the “hooding”.
M Well, it was the convention then – and it had been for I think a few years, that OAC and Mac grads all went off to a party in Niagara Falls, so that was where we went for the evening.
R When you graduated, did you feel that you got what you wanted from Macdonald Institute?
M I think so. I think the fact that I chose that field of study, as opposed to not going into the medical field – which would have been my other choice, I was pretty pleased though, with the amount – the quality and type of education I’d gotten, and had I decided to, I could have gone to teachers’ college. I certainly had the grades and everything, but right at that time, graduate programmes were being developed in Macdonald Institute, and the Textile area was one of the first ones to offer a Master of Science, and I got asked by the professors in the Textile area, to consider graduate school – they obviously needed to have students to do the programme and they had grant money – several of them did – and so, they asked several of the graduating students who had top grades, to consider graduate school. And by that time, as I mentioned, I’d met my future husband at Guelph - and that was Greg - and he was an OAC ’67 grad. And he had taken a position that was based on campus – it was actually with Agriculture Canada, but their offices were on campus at that time. And I met him at the beginning of my third year, so by a year later, in fourth year, we’d pretty well decided we were going to be married at some point soon and he was there, so when this opportunity came along – to do a masters work, it seemed to fit well with – he was located in Guelph – and as well the residences were expanding tremendously. The university was growing in size. So, I applied to become a head of the residence – in the new residence system – which was quite compatible with graduate work. So, we ended up being married the end of the summer of 1968, and our first home was in what’s now called “The South Residence Complex” – a really sort of unusual “zig zag” shaped buildings that are along the “Ring Road” and Stone Road. That was quite an experience – moving in there, because they weren’t really finished when we moved in. (Chuckle) Yes. Those buildings were a very complex setup. I think we even called it the “Complex” or something at that time. And they didn’t have the signage up, when we were moving all these students into all these different wings and spots without proper signage to even find the rooms. It was pretty “hairy”. (Chuckle) And I’d just gotten married and come back from a honeymoon, and there I was - moving people in (Chuckle) - carrying things and - parents asking for everything – and on and on and on. So … but we survived.
R Which of your classmates do you remember specifically?
M Well, probably particularly my roommates. My roommate from first year in Mac Hall, was a roommate throughout the rest of university, but we always lived in a foursome, and the other two changed. I lived in my second year with Elaine McCrosson and Helen Woods, both of whom were married after the end of second year. So, they went off to live their married lives for third and fourth year. And I had two other roommates who had been roommates close to us in first year, though too, they’d been each other’s first year roommates as well – and that was Edith MacDonald and Adaline McKay. So we hooked up with them to get our third year – and we got an apartment together that was just off of – oh – the other side of the river off of what do they call it now – it was called the Silver park area, I think.
M Silvercreek. That was the name I’m trying to think of. Yes. So, all of us then got married in that crew – pretty much after we graduated and interestingly two of them married – Edith and Jane – my first year roommate, Jane Neil, whom I had all the way through, married roommates of Greg, my husband. And that’s how they met – was through Greg and I having met already, and then all of them meeting all of Greg’s roommates and – the rest is history I guess.
R What did most of your classmates do when they graduated? What did they go on to?
M A great many of them went on to high school teaching - I would say would be a really high number, and Home Economists for the province and for some – a few with business, and dietetics. Those would I think be the major career choices.
M But not everybody did that, but that was the sort of the largest numbers.
R Hmhm. Do you have any comments or anecdotes, or anything that we haven’t discussed that we haven’t discussed that you’d like to talk about? About your undergraduate years.
M Anecdotes. Things I’d like to talk about. Well, (chuckle) it’s hard to just think of something just off of top of my head. I think that the campus changed dramatically though – while I was there. And that’s something I do recall – was just the immense change. It started out as a campus of maybe thirty-five hundred – four thousand people – and that’s across all of the years of all of the OAC, OVC Mac Institute – and by the time we graduated in 1968, it must have been about three times that size, at least – probably about three times, and it had added all of the Arts and Sciences in at that point – when it became a full university, and things just changed dramatically throughout that time, and really, as I then finished university, I stayed there too, and did my Masters degree, and lived in residence and it changed dramatically in those two years – from 1968 to 1970. All that structure and rules in the residence were totally gone, by the time 1970 came. There’d never been any alcohol on campus, for example. And in 1968, when I was about to graduate, maybe it was the year before, they started holding these so-called “Pubs” in the basement of Creelman Hall. I think they held those, maybe once a week – and then it just changed after that. All the building took place in the early seventies – you know – building the Library, the Arts building, the Sciences, and all those things and then the Student Centre – all those things – and things just changed dramatically by I guess you could really say, by the late seventies, you really had the shape of the university as you see it now. It’s all – it’s bigger, again – with more new buildings etc. – but sort of the shape of the university was there, by then. It changed dramatically from when I was an undergraduate.
R So you got married?
R And you did your Masters degree?
R And would you like to talk about anything else after that?
M Yeh. I completed my Masters degree in 1970, having worked in the residence system as well. So that was sort of our roof over our head kind of thing, which gave us a really good start, because, my husband – more than me, to be really honest, was very, very determined to get a PhD. And we looked around – he looked around primarily and then I would look to see what would be possible that I might consider doing and he was looking at American universities. So, he ended up deciding on Ohio State – where he really wanted to go. There was a professor there that he really wanted to work with. And because we’d worked in the residences, as I say, we were actually able to buy a small house before we left Guelph, knowing we would be back in three years – he had a three-year leave from Agriculture Canada to work on his PhD. So we bought this little house and rented it while we were away – which was really fun – unknown entity, but that worked in our favour, because it was a period of time when housing prices just went up. I think the house doubled in value just about – while we were – well it depreciated in quality when we were in school. Anyway, we went off to Ohio State, and I looked at Programmes there, thinking, “No I wasn’t interested in any more graduate study. That masters degree in Textiles Science – that had done it for me” - ‘cause that was a lot of laboratory work. And we got down there though and they had a position – and of course you had to have a working visa if you were going to do anything other than be a student. Student visas were attainable. Working visas were hard to get. I started the process, but I’d been there for over a year before they even started to process it. But, in the mean time, there was an assistantship in a textile lab in the Home Economics School, at Ohio State, and they looked at my background and they said, ”Well we would really like you to take this. We need someone with this kind of background. You can just take courses out of interest if you like, but if you want, we can set up a programme.” And Greg was certainly a number one person to say, “Well, set up a programme. You’re going to be here. When else will you ever have this opportunity – just sitting there right on – you know – your doorstep – for the ask- just for the taking”. So, I did. I mean, the more I looked into it, the more I found well, was I ever a lucky person, because I really didn’t want to carry on with the textile sciences per se, I even decided, while I was doing the research I was doing in Textile Science for my Masters, it was very – oriented more toward what would be helpful to consumers. Well, it turned out that Ohio State had some of the foremost Consumer Behaviour experts. And they were in the Marketing Department at the Business School. And a couple of graduate students who had just started – not much before me, had already determined that this would be a good way of integrating things, and he needed to do minor areas of study, so that was where one of my minor areas of study was and my , dissertation research was really aimed at Consumer Behaviour – with an application into the Textile, Clothing side of things. And so, I ended up taking – as well as Textile, Clothing kinds of courses – they had a fairly strong Behavioural component though in that area there at Ohio State. A lot of marketing and consumer behaviour and research methods and so forth, out of the Business School, and as well, I did some Sociology and that kind of thing, too. It tied in with what I wanted, which was much more of the Social Science approach.
M And then that tied in well with coming back to Guelph, because – right when I was leaving – I kind of – I think I knew that really, because when I was leaving Guelph, having just finished my Masters, that was when Family and Consumer Studies was coming together, as the new concept to replace the Macdonald Institute programme with the Consumer Studies Department having a focus on Consumer Education, Consumer Protection, Consumer Behaviour, all those areas. So, when I came back, Dick Vosburgh was the Department Chair at that point, and was very, very interested that I was coming back with that background. And so, I joined the faculty in 1974 – and stayed there until I retired in 2003. And during that time, I taught a lot of clothing types of courses, both behavioural kinds of things and some of the laboratory design kinds of things. And then kind of moved over, as time went on, into retailing, merchandising kinds of applications, and consumer behaviour – conducted research that – some of which was aimed very much at textile consumption, clothing consumption – but, some of it more broadly at consumer behaviour in general. Won some grants from the Social Sciences Research Council – that kind of thing. Did a lot of work with Louise Heslop, who was on faculty through part of the eighties and then went to Carleton University, but we kept up a quite a close relationship for research up until just – you know, before I retired. And I became Department Chair in the early nineteen-nineties – acting Chair at the start, and then went on to become the regular Chair of the Department. And then we moved again, into the sense of the Department moving into much more the Bachelor of Commerce orientation – in marketing. But the background I’d actually gotten when I was at Ohio State really integrated all of those things together, and so I carried on teaching some of the Clothing kind of Merchandising/Product Development stuff, in the late eighties – early nineties, but gradually it phased out because the student interest was all in marketing and consumer behaviour. So, that’s where we ended up moving the focus totally. And finally, in the late nineties, the College of Family and Consumer Studies amalgamated with Social Sciences to be the College of Applied Human Sciences I got that wrong – College of Social and Applied Human Sciences. So – there have been a lot of changes - over the time I’ve been affiliated with Guelph, which I’ve been affiliated with Guelph for more than any other thing I’ve done ever in my life. (Chuckle)
R And now you’re retired?
R What are your interests and your activities that you take part in now?
M Well, I’ve done a few things that have a professional side to them. Advisory Board with the Real Estate Council of Ontario and I’m going to be on an advisory board at Humber, that relates to the Fashion Arts – a little bit of work here with the Alumni at the University of Guelph, but I’ve become a grandmother as well, and my little grand-daughter’s living in our house, so I’ve been pretty busy with that as well. And I did have some health issues that lead to the early retirement. Now those seem to be all dealt with. Everything seems to be going fine. So, I hope to maybe involved with a few other volunteer activities as time goes on – and as my daughter and grand-daughter maybe aren’t living at home, either, any longer and I will have more free time. That’s about it.
R You mentioned your daughter and your grand-daughter. Do you have other children?
M I have three daughters. The eldest is the one living at home with me, and she has a little girl, who’s just turned two years of age. And she’s a radio announcer by background – she took a radio technology course at Mohawk. The next daughter is a lawyer, just newly admitted to the bar in Ontario, having done her BA and MA in Political Science at McGill and then a law degree at University of Ottawa. And the third daughter graduated with an Honours BA from Western, that now has – after working a couple of years – has gone back to taking Interior Design at Humber. That’s where they all are.
R That’s great.
R Thank you Marjorie. I really appreciate you sharing all this information with us, and it’s been a very interesting afternoon.
M Well, you’re welcome.