ALUMNI-IN-ACTION ORAL HISTORY
E.W. FRANKLIN O.A.C. 1947
Ontario Agricultural College, Horticulture, 1947
Interviewed by Jack Gallin
October 30, 1990
J This is an interview with Professor E. W. Franklin, retired from the Department of Horticulture at the University of Guelph, conducted by Jack Gallin, on October 30th, 1990, for the Oral History Group of the Alumni-in Action Committee of the Alumni Association. Everett, its nice to talk to you here, to-day, and I hope you have some insights into your early life and career in agriculture in Ontario.
E Well, it’s nice to have you here, Jack. I won’t say I’ll reveal all the things that happened in the past, but I’ll try to stick more or less to things that pertain to agriculture, because I grew up on a farm, and I do know a little bit about it.
J You grew up on a farm in Eastern Ontario, I understand?
E Yes. I’ve heard it said it’s a very rocky county, Leeds County, but, never the less, I’m given to understand that we had some of the highest milk production and cheese production in Ontario, away back.
J I guess Leeds County’s always been noted for dairy production and were you from a dairy farm?
E Yes. Well, a minor dairy farm. We had a hundred and twenty-eight acres, and milked about thirty cows, and of course we had young cattle and pigs - a few pigs, not too many, and young calves that we grew up all the time to bring the herd back to what it should be.
J You were born in 1910. Do you remember the first World War?
E Only vaguely. I do remember when it ended in 1918, when I was eight years old. And that was a period, as some of the old people will recall, of an epidemic of flu that swept the world. And my dad was involved in that, and a lot of people were dying right and left in our area.
J That was 1918, I believe wasn’t it, the flu epidemic, and then the 20's came along, and my understanding, the 20's were a period of relative prosperity for a while on farms?
E Well, that could be, because my dad bought his first Ford car in 1917. Perhaps that wasn’t too bad a year. A touring car for four hundred and forty-five dollars. And that was quite a novelty, although there were other cars in our area, at that time.
J Was that a Ford car?
E A Ford car.
J A model “T”
E A model “T”.
J And you had brothers and sisters ?
E I had one older brother, four years older than I am, and no sisters, unfortunately.
J You stayed on the farm until you were how old, then?
E Well, I first left to go to collegiate, in Brockville. I was away from the farm in 1927, and then I went to Kemptville Agricultural School after that, 1928 and ‘29. I suppose I was thinking of seriously staying on the farm at that time. Although, I was very interested in continuing an education in agriculture at the Ontario Agriculture College. I used to listen to - on the radio at that time, which were sort of novel at that time, but the convocation , no, what’s the name of the big thing at the O. A.C. in those days? Had an orchestra there, and I would hear it at night once a year.
J OK . In 1929, you finished your second year at Kemptville?
E Yes, I finished in 1929, but I should mention that in 1927, I’d finished collegiate and I went west on a Harvesters’ Excursion and had a very interesting two months in Saskatchewan - the place were I was employed was Laurel. Two other boys and I went out and we got fantastic money. I think it was four dollars a day, which was something in those days.
J For threshing?
E Stooking first. Practically ruined my fingers on that, and then stook- threshing. And I had a wonderful Percheron team. I really loved them. And my own wagon of course. We’d be up before daylight and have the horses harnessed, and we’d have breakfast. And we’d work right on through until dark, at night. And I remember driving home at the end, my last load off - it was just dusk - and there’d be stack fires all over where they’re burning up the straw. It made it very interesting. A thing to think about.
J So then you came back, and that fall started to Kemptville, then?
E Right. I had enough money saved by that time that I could pay my first year at Kemptville, which was very inexpensive, as you can well imagine. I think it was something like five dollars a week, maybe even less.
J For room and board and everything
E Well, that covered everything.
J So then you came out of Kemptville in spring of ‘29, and with high aspirations of probably going on to O. A.C.?
E Well, yes I had the aspirations, but farming didn’t return much money - though actually we were not too well financially, and they more or less told me, it would be impossible for me to go. But, I was fired up with going to the courses at Kemptville, so I set about making my farm for myself.
J And that was a tough time to start.
E A terrible time to start. I recall, one of the first things I wanted to do, was get into growing seed potatoes. So that year, in 1929, with the help of Dad, we bought, I think it was twelve bags, and I planted an acre of potatoes to grow for seed, and hoping - I think we paid four dollars a bag, and of course, I thought I’d have, you know, fifty bags or something to sell. Unfortunately everything went wrong. The market fell flat, disease got into the potatoes and I had to end up selling what few I did have at twenty-five cents a bag. And we fed most of them to the cattle by cooking them. So that was my first disillusionment, being disillusioned about farming. But, I was really more interested in Horticulture. My grandfather had planted a large orchard away back. It was in terrible shape in those days, my dad wasn’t interested. So, I began to prune it and resolved to spray it and also, to plant more trees myself, and going into fruit farming, because I did not like milking cows.
J This was on the home farm that your grandfather had planted the orchard?
E Right. Right.
J So you went at that for a while. How did that work out?
E Well, that was probably a thing that changed my life. Because,
1930, 1931 went very well. In fact, despite the terrible Depression that was becoming obvious, I was really going ahead. I’d cleaned up our orchard, and produced some fine
looking apples by spraying with an old barrel sprayer and a pump, which some people might recognize as being a spraying outfit and a long pole. And then I realized that was an impossible situation, so I managed to get enough money to buy a power sprayer in 1932. And so many people saw the results we were having that I was encouraged to go down and rent other orchards, or work them on shares, prune them and power spray them. And by that time I had a crop of oh I would say four or five hundred barrels of apples in 1932, and also had the business of selling them. So, I bought a big old Ford truck and started to take the fruit to local areas - Brockville, Smith Falls, Perth, and even into Ottawa. And we took a truckload into Ottawa, and sold them, and were very pleased to get one dollar a barrel, for those apples.
J Would this be at a farmers’ market, or to stores or..?
E One or the other. It didn’t matter. Yes it was wholesale, not retail. In fact they had trouble in one place with selling some to a store - and then some people on the street wanted a barrel, too, which I sold. And the store owner came to me and said, “Look here, young man, you can’t do that.”
J Do you remember the varieties of apples that were popular in those days?
E Yes. Macintosh was well known down there.
J Started down there
E Started down there, not too far away, But I think Snowapples, Talman Sweets, Spitzenburg, Scarlet Pippin was a very popular apple in our orchard. And I will have something to say about the old varieties – Spitzenburgs, Gaynose, and those Russets. They were all popular, because everyone knew about them. But, the tragic part happened the following year - 1933 - when the temperature in the winter-time dropped - I think it’s on record, about the lowest it ever dropped in Eastern Ontario. And it killed all those old trees - practically up to ninety percent. It split the trunks of the trees. I remember listening at night. It sounded like pistol shots in the orchard, where the trees would break apart, and the trunks. And next spring, I realized we’re into problems, because the blossoms didn’t just look like they should in 1933.
J Those trees had been there since your grandfather planted them years and years before, and yet a frost in 1933 destroyed most of them.
E That’s an amazing fact, that they’d probably been there for fifty to a hundred years almost, some of them around the neighbourhood that I’d taken over and pruned and started to look after. And you might say they were all destroyed in that one year. I came to Western Ontario later, and these had much the same results. Some of the older trees could not withstand those low temperatures.
J Do you remember an apple called the King?
E Yes. Yes, I remember the King. It’s more likely you’d find them up around Prince Edward County, than down in our area.
J I remember, we had them in our orchard at home. So did that affect your business then, when the trees got frozen? Did you have to change things, or did you carry on with the orchards then?
E Well, I attempted in 1934 - and I should add, that in the meantime, in 1931, I’d planted one hundred young trees, 1932, two hundred and fifty trees and even those were frozen, to the extent that they were practically ruined.
J What varieties would you be planting then ?
E Macintosh entirely, and we knew about the new root stalks. Down there we had to use the Siberian crab root stalk. They cost a little more, but that’s the ones I planted . But, still, they were destroyed.
J Did you plant the root stalks and do your own grafting?
E No, I got them already grafted.
J From a nursery?
E Yes, although I did an awful lot of grafting in orchards around the country. Used to charge twenty-five cents a graft if it worked. And usually had pretty good luck. A lot of people were very pleased to get some old apple trees in their back yard grafted.
J They didn’t have the malling root stalks in those days?
E No. Well, not in my area, no.
J So, 1934 and you’re still farming at home and doing some custom work?
E Well, there’s another side to the story. The TB test came through in the dairy industry- 1932, I think it started, there. And I realized the potential of cleaning up barns in the spring, and whitewashing with disinfectant. And I think all together my records show - I checked them once out of curiosity - I sprayed two hundred and fifty stables in those two years - in fact I worked all through the winter on that, and that really made it worthwhile having the power sprayer.
J Oh, you used the same orchard sprayer to do the whitewashing.
E Yes. I mounted it on a four-wheeled, rubber- tired frame from a car and I had purchased another new pick-up truck in 1932. And I would tow it around. And I had slip tongue. Most of the orchards - it was impossible to tow it in there. I’d slip a tongue in and the farmer would put his team of horses on and draw it around the orchard for me for spraying. Now in the case of barn spraying, of course, I just left it behind the truck.
J Well, that’s an innovative way of spending the winters when you were in the orchard business I guess?
E Now, if anyone is interested in looking up history of that, they can get a copy of “Farmer” dated September 1933, which has a picture of myself and the sprayer, and the history of a graduate of the Kemptville Agricultural School, that made good despite the Depression.
J Well, that’s great. That’s the “Farmer”. Eastern Canada’s rural magazine. Toronto September 1933. Volume 30, No. 9
J Good. So you’ve carried on through the Depression?
E Well you might say that the freezing difficulty to the orchard business, put me out of business, entirely. And changed my ideas of what might be possible to do on the home farm. And therefore, as I said, I was not interested in general farming, or especially the dairy industry. I was interested only in the fruit industry. And I discussed it with my father, and we agreed that I should more or less go my own way. So, in 1934, I married my local sweetheart, and in 1935 we left the farm.
J And from there?
E Well, from there, I was still in farming of course. First opportunity, and they were very difficult to get any place. In those days, you could hardly get a job anywhere, but by dint of effort and writing some letters, I got to operate on shares an apple orchard owned by Dr. Fislop in Picton. And that orchard, some that might still be there, is halfway between Picton and Glenora Ferry on the south shore of the bay.
J In Prince Edward County?
E In Prince Edward County. And I did a lot of pruning. I had a power sprayer there, nice team of horses to haul it around, and in a way, put in enjoyable summer, just married, and got a tremendous salary of fifteen dollars a month. And, I have facts to prove it yet. We were able to live on fifteen dollars a month.
J In 1934?
E Now, my aspirations increased after that. And I wrote many letters to obtain a little better position. And I came to western Ontario - to Simcoe - and a job there with the big orchard man, just outside Simcoe, called McDonald. And I went there in the spring of 1936. Rather interesting. He gave me an old McLaughlin car that had been converted to a truck, to come down and bring what little furniture we had. And, we had a baby then. And we drove all the way up. And of course I was overloaded. And even in those days, I was pulled in for weighing, and it cost him forty dollars before they released me, which is more than a month’s wages almost. However, he put up with it, and we arrived, finally in Simcoe, to a house that he had there for us. But, it was still rather difficult. A young man just graduated from the Agriculture College at Guelph, followed me there and we did the spraying work - not a large orchard - maybe two thousand trees, and pruning and so on. That lasted for two months, but I didn’t realize at the time, Mr. McDonald was schizophrenic, and one day, it was pouring rain, and we were supposed to be working, but we went back into the barn in cover, and he came in and he said, “You boys are fired.
You’ve got to keep going.” Well, maybe it didn’t concern the other fellow, so much, but it did bother me, because I had a wife and children there and no transportation. But, fortunately, Norfolk Orchards Limited was a big outfit growing apples, just outside of Simcoe, and I was able to get a position with them at one dollar a day. And therefore, we survived very well, that summer, and I got more experience. I might say that that summer had the hottest day on record in July. I don’t think there has ever been as hot a day. It was something like - this is Fahrenheit - a hundred and ten - a hundred and twelve degrees and we still continued to dig out the trees. The big effort there was, as a result of the freeze in ‘33, they were still digging trees out. We didn’t have a tractor then, to pull them out. We had to hand dig around the tree, get the roots enough to topple it with horses. And that land was being converted into tobacco land, because the whole area was going into growing tobacco. So, that was a reverse type of orchard, but they had so many trees, that we still had a good summer working with trees, which I love.
J And you stayed there for just the one year?
E Yes, just one year. I thought well, there must be something better. Maybe I can get a little more money than a dollar a day, which was only thirty dollars a month. I again wrote many letters, with’ recommendations from where I had been, etcetera, and I got a job with a company in Burlington. What’s the name of that company we’re talking about? Smiths, you know.
J Old Strathcona Orchards?
E Strathcona Orchard. And forty-five dollars a month, which is of course, a big advancement on thirty dollars a month, to start in the spring. So, we came home for the winter, my wife and I and our young little daughter, and I worked in a saw mill in the winter, again at a dollar a day - a local saw mill that was operating, and some I worked as a drover - never more than a dollar a day. And that was going wages at that time, I must say, in fact a lot of people didn’t even have a job and were on relief. Well, in the midst of that, I had a letter from George Carrel of Maplewood Orchards Limited, at Markham. And he had the largest apple orchard in Ontario, something like nine or ten thousand trees, and he was interested in my letter, and he suggested I come up and discuss it with him. And I did. He paid my way up. And I was quite impressed with the house they offered me, on Sheppard Avenue, just above Rouge Valley. And in the spring Eileen and I came to Toronto, you might say. Markham was our address. And I was there until the wartime. Worked up to be foreman there. We had staff, normally of about five to six people, because pruning was a continuous job in the winter. Spraying was a continuous job for months in the spring, and of course, keeping the orchard in the condition, cleaning it up, and then the picking gang - in those days we hired pickers out of Toronto. We’d send trucks in, bring them out of Toronto, and I’d have up to a hundred and twenty in the picking gang. That was very difficult to control - very difficult to handle apples carefully.
J This would be all on winter apples, particularly, would it?
E Early apples. A great many of them were Duchess. These were all being put into barrels, Astricans.
E Yes, and for the British market. In those days, we’re still shipping them - we’d truck them into Agincourt, which was a little village at that time, and load them on to trains for the coast. They were going overseas for the British market. Not Macintosh - we didn’t put Macintosh - they had to be hard apples. We’d have the Spys,later on and so on. But that was the business of that orchard, plus the open sales. I didn’t have anything to do with sales, but I had a lot to do with storing the apples and looking after them in the wintertime - in air cooled storage, you know. And I found it interesting. I might add that the most interesting part of that was that I lived just up across the Rouge - we were right on the Rouge. This is now the Toronto Zoo, incidently, where I did all this work. And, I lived right across from there. We made a road down the side of the hill - they had a small caterpillar tractor - and up the other side, and one of my first purchases of a car was a ‘31 Ford - rumble seat and so on. But anyway, I drove it to work, down this track, into the valley, across the Rouge River, which is a shallow stream, and back up the other side. Now that has just been listed, this is quite a story, in Canadian Geographic, of the new part of the Rouge Valley, in fact there’s been quite a bit of talk over that, and I rather fondly look at it, because it is a beautiful valley. I spent many hours down there, wandering around just opposite where the Toronto Zoo is now.
J And there were apples planted in that valley?
E Oh, no. No apples in the valley. No.
J What was in the valley-just rough land, then?
E The valley was just beautiful parkland. Not too much brush, a lot of nice grassy area-
J Did somebody own it privately
E No, I think it was, so called, municipally owned, at that time.
J This is where they’re talking of a big park now?
E That’s right.
J And also the landfill site, or dump for Toronto?
E The potential dump site would be much farther up north.
J But, still in the Rouge Valley, though?
E More up to the head of the Rouge Valley . We liked that location to live, as far as that goes. It was a good half hour to get into Toronto, in those days. We’re way out in the country. We’d get in to the Danforth. We’d think we were doing remarkably well for an evening
J So that was from ‘36, ‘37 ‘til ?
E That was the spring of ‘37, ‘til September ‘39. And I suppose I would be quite honest to say, that it didn’t look too much like any future there. The owner of the property - J.B.Cerrell was a great explorer. And Kirkland Lake Gold Mine, he had money. He had tremendous property there. His son , George, was actually running the part where I was at. But, the pay was fifty-eight dollars.
J A month?
E A month. And that continued from the time I joined up in ‘37 - was still the same in ‘39. And when they came out with the opportunity to join up, I was quite interested in the army and overseas - engineers at practically twice that pay, that is when I made the decision to join the Royal Canadian Engineers.
J Right at the start of the war?
E Right at the start of the war. I joined up about three days after Canada declared war. I know it was early September 1939. And had an interesting winter digging trenches in the Fort York Armouries in Toronto. And we’re betting they’re still living in the first Word War Era, as far as equipment. We hardly had enough for uniforms. We didn’t have modern weapons. We had Tommy guns. That was the only thing, and some old Lee Enfield rifles. Anyway, that was what I put in the winter at, ‘til I went overseas in June 1940.
J So, in 1940, you moved out of Toronto then?
E 1940. Got on the train. Went to Halifax and the war was still going on in Europe. And we debated on the way, “Well, where’re we going? We going directly to Europe, or are we going to England?” And while we were on the boat, the message came from Churchill, by radio, that Dunkirk was in progress. They had to withdraw from Europe, so we would not be going to Europe. And the war part was a story in itself. I was in England four years, and was sent back in 1944, much against my wishes. I had contracted
an ulcer, and the Colonel of the the unit - I’d worked up to be Sargent-major- the colonel of the unit said, “Well, Franklin, do you have a job back home, or do you want to stay here?” He said, “You can take your pick, because we can use you in England, but you are not going across to Europe - not with your condition.” So I came home. The ulcer problem was probably associated with the cook we had. Everything we ever had was put in a big batter. And that’s the type of food we had to eat most of the time. However the guys in the unit, someone that didn’t fit in anywhere, they always made ‘im into a cook. That’s what we used to say. So, that was part of the thing I had to put up with there, apparently my stomach didn’t. Obviously, when I returned home I was discharged within a month or two, in the Music Building at the C. N. E. - burned up since - but I understand they’re going to keep it.
J When was this ?
E Late in June , 1944 . I had to report to Guelph - put it this way - it took the year or two to clean up - clear up my ulcer condition by going to London, to the Veterans’ Hospital there, but it was eventually cleared up and has never recurred since, I’m glad to say.
J Better cooking.
E Immediately. One thing I’ve always been interested in, was inspection service run by the Federal Government in the town of Markham. So, I went to them and had hardly any difficulty at all, of being accepted for fruit and vegetable inspection. But, they didn’t put me on the Toronto Market. They sent me up to Penetanguishene in that area up there to inspect potatoes for ring rot.
J Seed potatoes, or table potaotoes?
E Well, anything. They had potatoes both for seed potatoes and table, - which was
getting quite pronounced in that area . And I spent the summer up there, walking
around potato patches, becoming quite expert, I think, on detecting, almost when I went in
the field, not only the variety, I would know the varieties just to look at them, but I could
tell where there was possibility of ring rot. Now, this was a dangerous occupation,
because anyone who had ring rot was asked to probably have the whole field
destroyed, and his quarters for storage disinfected. So, I had to get special permission, in
many cases, to go into a field, because the farmer would practically be ready with a
pitch fork to drive me out. And some fields I just didn’t touch without having other
assistants along with me.
J This was the summer of ‘41, we’re talking about?
E Summer of ‘44. Now, at the same time, I made application - I knew before we came home, that we were subject to rehabilitation, either in some money or property or else to
attend further education. Well, of course, I was immediately interested in furthering my educational training, by going to O. A.C., which I had always wanted to do. So, through the summer I occasionally checked with O. A.C. It was still a training ground at that time, for the Air Force, and the O. A. C. per se, was crowded into what became the Hort Building and a few buildings on one side of the campus.
J The administration was in the Horticulture Building as I recall.
E Right. With Dr. Christie there. And Archie Porter was the registrar. They were a little puzzled of what to do with me. I think I was the first veteran back. You see, I was a little early. The war was still on. And having been at Kemptville, I was entitled to go into the intermediate year, but it had been discontinued. So, well, what will we do with this fella’. And finally Dr Christie said, “Oh, put him in second year.” So, I started in second year with year 1947 and very pleased to be back learning something.
J What are your general impressions of your three years as a student at O. A. C., then ?
E Three years at O. A. C. were in a way, the same as at Kemptville, way back in ‘28 and ‘29, I had fun. At O. A. C., I knew what I wanted. I wanted information. I wanted to get ahead. I wanted to learn things. I was just fascinated by the opportunity to learn all about, in my case, physiology - how plants grew, and the chemical reactions and so on - the effect of the environment. And everything about horticulture just fascinated me. And so, it was a very, very, pleasant three years. I didn’t mind the other subjects. Chemistry - I was also very interested in that. Perhaps less so, in mathematics, but never-the-less, it was a wonderful three years. Being married with a wife, I missed out on association with residence life and all the other students. That was not so desirable, but, anyway, it was a nice time.
J You never did live in residence, then at O.A.C.
E I never did. But I’d been in them many times. And the other thing - of course the important thing, I think, really one should say about university life - college life - is the people you meet. For example, I’m talking to one right now, who, if I’d never been there, I wouldn’t have met Jack. And those things are very delightful, and the other people you get to know, that sort of fill your life to the time that has gone by.
J Who do you remember as impressing you - one way or the other- among
professors at that time. You took the Horticulture Option... so who were the Horticulture professors in those days? Professor Tomlinson was there then?
E Well, Tomlinson was there, but as a matter of fact I drove Tomlinson to the train and he went to the west, to some event - I forget what it was - and he was killed there. So I
was one of the last ones to talk to Mr. Tomlinson - very nice gentleman. I would think, it was only a matter of time ‘til Dr. Shoemaker from Alberta, dropped down, took over, and I think the one that influenced me most, and interested me most was Dr. J. L. Truscott, because I became his student in graduate work, and I worked with him through all the summers as a technician. And he was interested in storage work - in preservation of fruits and vegetables after they ‘re harvested, which incidently, became my field. It’s now called post-harvest physiology. He was probably the one I liked most. Jimmy Taylor was there. He was an outstanding authority on plant material. And , oh there were a lot of them. I liked them. I liked everybody at the O. A. C.
J So you graduated in 1947and immediately started a Master’s program?
E Yes. I was almost in it before I graduated. I had a lot of material, that I was able to use to do a thesis. So, in another year, I was granted a Master’s Degree, right at O. A. C.
J And then joined the Department as a lecturer?
E Well, a little later. Dr. Truscott had the opportunity of going to Vineland Research Station to head up a certain Division there, and his position became vacant. And he recommended that I be asked to fill it. In the meantime, I had decided to continue on at Toronto with a PhD degree, so I enrolled at Toronto in 1948, to take PhD courses, and, as a matter of fact, I took thirteen that year. I used to go down Sunday night, on the train, and come back Friday night, and work about sixteen or eighteen hours a day, I think, at those courses. And actually, it went very well. This position came up in 1949 and it was a question should I take it or should I continue on at Toronto. We made a compromise. A position was very important, in those days. You see, I was a product of the Depression - a job was important. So, here was an opportunity to get a job. So, I decided at all cost, I was going to take it. And they would take me on without a PhD, at that time. So, I did that, but the compromise was that I could continue on and finish the course work at Toronto in 1949, after I came on staff. Which I did. I had finished my course work for PhD at Toronto University, but of course, there is another thing, you have to do a thesis, but a marketable one. And since I was to return to Guelph, I had to somehow work that thesis out. To make a long story short, I never did complete it. There were too many difficulties involved - I won’t go into it. But I realized I’d made a mistake, by not going to Cornell, which I had the opportunity to do, but it would’ve meant leaving my family in Guelph, and I had had enough of four years of that. So, I was never granted a PhD degree, even though I completed the course work.
J What would you have done at Cornell? - take a PhD or take a position , which ?
E So many of the boys went to Michigan or Cornell , and they were really very interested in us. And I was asked many times to go to Cornell as a student, yes, for a PhD. That
was probably one mistake, if I want to say I made in my life. I regret it. Instead of going to Toronto, I should have gone to Cornell.
J But you had family responsibilities to consider.
E Yes that was part of the difficulty. I should mention of course, that I was supported by DVA, the government in all my time at Guelph. And, for that, I was certainly very appreciative. You had to maintain a certain standard, which I did .
J But, you were fifteen years older than most of the people in your class and you had no time to waste.
E That’s right. So again, I was glad to get the job there. It was something I was
interested in. And I’ve never regretted that part.
J So, tell me the main thrust of your work, in the Horticulture Department, from 1949, until you retired.
E I joined in 1949 at the fantastic salary of thirty-two hundred dollars a year.
J Which was not too bad, as I recall in those days
E ...which pleased me very much, considering I hadn’t made anything before very much.
J And you became what I think of as the cold storage expert.
E That’s right. A lot of my work having grown up on a farm, and being very familiar with farm people - farm operations - and especially my experience in the orchard business and fruit business, and marketing - a lot of my work revolved in that area very quickly. In other words, extension work. In fact, that became a real problem to me. I had to do a certain amount of lecturing, which I enjoyed very much . But, I also enjoyed extension work out amongst the apple growers and their storage problems, as the marketing of fruits and vegetables. I did a lot of work for the Marketing Board in tomato grading, in corn grading, etceter. And those things interested me a great deal. And I suppose that’s where much of my effort went in the extension work. Had to speak at many group meetings. That’s one thing I said in the remarks when I was given the Award of Merit - which was only given once a year, by the fruit industry, in 1956 I think- that I’d just as soon have that as a PhD, as a recognition from the fruit growers of what work I’d done for them. My next award came from the vegetable growers - especially Holland Marsh. Afterwards, when I had retired, they presented me with another merit - silver tray and speech, but I’d already left and gone to other work in Iran. But, it was given to Dr. Lougheed, on my behalf. So, I keep the highlights in work I did in extension - I was very interested in. And of course, I always liked working with students.
J And you did a - a large amount of research into storage physiology and things like that?
E Oh, yes I was always at that. Probably one thing, was a big brick building, still sitting on campus there - the storage behind the greenhouses in the Horticultural Science area - maybe it will be pulled down some day - but I designed that building, and got an OK from Dr. Reed to have it constructed finally - actually , it was held over, and I went to Dr. MacLaughlan about it. And the first one I designed was not too extensive. It was storage for the University. He sent me back, and said, “Oh, if you don’t ask for something big enough, you won’t get it.” So, I really went out on that one, it cost in those days two million dollars, but it certainly set us up in research work, and I think it’s been very useful - and still is used extensively, by research people in my area of post-harvest physiology.
J That would be researching -
E It’s the effects of the environment on the stored product - especially apples, and we got into all kinds of fruits. Low temperature storage - CA storage. I suppose another thing that encouraged the fruit growers - and we got a lot of credit for - was that start of controlled atmosphere storage in Ontario. I was aware of it being done - down in New York State. So, I got three or four of them - who I considered pretty live-wires - and we went down on a trip - went down all through there, to see the CA storages. And at that time, we were building our storage behind the Hort, and we put two CA storages in there, and I filled one with apples from Simcoe. And I had the growers in, and from that time on, CA storage caught on in Ontario. And it’s pretty big business.
J So, you retired in 1975?
J And, you went to Iran for - what two, three years?
E Yes. I had a three-year contract to go to Iran to establish a research station, much along the lines we were doing here, in post-harvest physiology. And I had two interesting years there. That too, was a story by itself, because they’re great procrastinators. I got there - supposedly with a building already to go, and I found they didn’t even have windows in it, and nothing going there at all, wasn’t even hooked up to electricity, no storages. So, I had to set about first, fighting to get the money for it, to buy equipment to set up the labs and to set up the storages. And that took two years.
J Did this money coming from the Iranian government, or from international agencies...
E Iranian government.
J That would be under the Shah, at that time.
E I realized very soon, that some people wanted to do this. And its typical of the many things done under the development operations in many of the countries. They build huge grain elevators, huge agriculture development, huge things and then no one would use them. No one would know how to use them. They were never set up to be operating. And I found that that was part of the problem there. So, I had a very interesting two years to start with, of flying or driving all over Iran, looking at all the conditions, and everything to set up what could be done. Its potential, you see. And turned in an excellent report to the headquarters on marketing agricultural products, and storing them etcetra. And it was only on the third year, that we really began to get any work done. Now unfortunately, that’s when the money was cut off, and I was asked to come back to Canada. And, I got back to Canada. We had a few months trip around the world, the wife and I. I got back to Canada in the spring 1978, and I think about a month later, I had a letter from Washington, that I was to go back, to start another project as soon as possible. It would be entitled “Wastage of Harvested Product”.
J Back to Iran?
E Back to Iran. So, there’s certain delay in getting ready again - getting all the work done connected with it. But I got away in October. Now, October, I was aware of this, but I thought it sounded interesting anyway, that Khomeini in Paris was becoming quite articulate and he was encouraging all the students in all of the centres in Iran to create problems. and there was a political instability, at that time, but I never-the-less went. I checked in at Rome, of course, and then on to Iran. and immediately after I arrived there, the first day we met one of the mobs coming up to the university, and soldiers going by with their guns and trucks, and so on, to keep order. and I thought well, this’s a rather peculiar situation. I was also advised to keep a very low profile. They’d taken all the licences off the vehicles that we were to use. I was dealing with the government there. and I realized very quickly, that the people with whom I was dealing were aware that there was no future. and they couldn’t care less about what I was trying to organize , for they never thought it would have the opportunity to go ahead.So, we spent a couple of very difficult months - I tried to send my wife home, but the airport was closed. So, we kept, as I said, a low profile, sort of out of the centre of Tehran, and we saw lots buildings burned, hotels smashed and finally we were sneaked out, after dark to get on a plane, in early December, and got back to Rome and then back home again. On the whole, I enjoyed the whole thing.
J That was quite an experience. and since then, you’ve been, pretty well completely retired, I guess ?
E Yes, yes, I’d had enough excitement at that point. arrived home in December ‘78, and
within a month I was in Florida, and I’ve been there every winter since.
J Well thank you very much for this interview, Professor Franklin. I think it will be very interesting to people who listen to it in the years to come. This has been an interview with Professor Everett Franklin, retired from the Horticulture Department at the University of Guelph, conducted on October thirtieth, 1990, by Jack Gallin.