ALUMNI- IN-ACTION ORAL HISTORY
Interviewed by Murray Brown, OAC 1951
On December 01, 2005
B This is an interview with Earl McNaughton conducted by Murray Brown for the Oral History Project of the University of Guelph Alumni Association. We’re conducting this interview on first of December, 2005 in the home of Jean and Earl McNaughton. Earl, I’d like to ask you first, where were you born and raised and also, a little bit about your under-graduate education.
M I was born on a farm near Maple, and we moved off the farm very shortly afterwards. We lived in the little village of Maple and I went to the Maple Public School and then on to Aurora High School. In those days they didn’t have school buses, so we went up on the train from Maple to Aurora daily for a year or so, and then we started driving our own cars, a carload of us. Following High School at Aurora, I was encouraged by the principal to go to the University of Toronto and take mathematics. He thought I was pretty good in mathematics, so I majored in mathematics, physics and chemistry, although it was mostly “m” and “p”. I graduated in 1941. Since I graduated during the “War”, that was the time when people of my age had to go into the services or have a pretty good reason for not doing so. The Faculty at the University of Toronto wanted to keep me there for couple of years to teach courses in physics and electronics to various branches of the services. I won’t go into detail – but we had young university graduates who were going to eventually, receive a commission in the Navy. First there was a summer course for Navy personnel, then we taught courses for Air Force personnel. These people came in several large groups, and as I recall they were six weeks courses, and eventually they got a little bit longer. Out of interest there were Guelph friends, so one of these groups of courses was held in the Physics Building at OAC. There was such a need for instructors they sent up people from University of Toronto to teach the courses. Then there was another course for grade thirteen students who had been recruited by the Army and eventually to receive a commission, so we taught them a first year course in Physics and Engineering. About the middle of the war I joined the Navy – and I was in operational research for about two years, that got us to the end of the war in Europe. The Navy was glad to get rid of us so they quickly sent us back to school. So, I got back to the University of Toronto in 1945 and pursued my PhD Degree, and that was the end of the formal education.
B So you completed your PhD at the University of Toronto in about 1948?
M Yes it was November 1948 when I finished.
B I was a student at Guelph at that time and if I recall, you came to Guelph about that time maybe in the fall of 1948 – or later?
M Yes. I came to the Guelph Physics Department, in about November of ’48 and I started teaching in the Winter term, and of course it was just using the course outlines, i.e. the course schedule that was in effect. I remember having the class of year ’49 – the graduating class in their fourth year as my first class. I suppose there were about twenty or thirty students. It was the Chemistry and Agricultural Science majors in their fourth year. Then I immediately started picking up other courses and certainly the next year started teaching Calculus and some Physics courses.
B I may have been in one of your first Calculus classes?
M Well, what year and what semester would you have taken it?
B I would have taken it in the fall of 1950, in my second last semester.
M Third year. Right. That’s when Calculus was first taught. I taught that course for a good number of years, or something similar to it.
B I remember really enjoying it, because it was my highest mark as an undergrad student. But let me go back to your coming to Guelph. It would be Prof. Moffat that hired you to Guelph – and was that at the time of Professor Reek or Dr. MacLachlan, as President?
M When I came to Guelph it was Professor Bob Moffat, solely, who rounded me up. While I was at the University of Toronto some of the young scientists in the Physics Department established the Canadian Association of Physicists. The older Physicists weren’t too concerned about it, but the young Physicists were thinking it was time that they had a professional, scientific organization, and so the Association started there. I would be a founding member of the Canadian Association of Physicists, and certainly the graduate students that were there travelled to the various meetings. They were held mostly in Ontario at this early stage, but later were held as far away as B.C. Professor Moffat used to come to these meetings, certainly when they were in the Toronto area, and that’s where I first met Professor Moffat, and I guess we were attracted to each other. So when I finished my PhD, I promised I would come up and talk to him. I did come directly after completing my PhD.
B Did you start teaching the Calculus course right away – for instance? And were there any students that might have left a lasting impression on you?
M Yes the program at OAC at that time was pretty elementary mathematics. In the first year people took algebra, trigonometry, geometry – that type of thing, and maybe something a little bit more advanced in second year, and by third year they started to take Calculus and by that time the students were pretty serious and I always enjoyed working with those students. I invented a system to make them work by having a test every Wednesday morning. And by the way, I tended to take the eight o’clock lectures because it was a good way to get one course out of the way early, and then if there were other things to do you had time for it. That is why I started the weekly tests, and that worked out well. I had people that wanted to ace the course and they would work all the problems in the textbook, i.e. many more than I assigned. One pair of girls from microbiology – or bacteriology, I guess they called it then –used to come in and see me quite often about four o’clock, and we’d spend a half an hour going over their work. But by and large the students that I had to deal with were pretty serious.
B There would be some World War II veterans in your classes, certainly up until 1951, because I had classmates that were veterans.
M Yes, of course!
B Did these students impress you as a young faculty member, as many of these students would be about the same age as you were? You would likely be very impressed with them?
M I found them very serious. And I believe that when they came to the Colleges they had quite an impact on OAC and OVC. The people who had been running things like the Student Administrative Council etc. would have been young people, and then all of a sudden two or three hundred servicemen landed on campus and they knew what they wanted to do. They were good students – worked hard – some of them had to go back and take their elementary mathematics, before they could be admitted to the Agriculture College. They were very good students and serious about all aspects of student life.
B Did any of these students that you taught join the Faculty at OAC and the University of Guelph, after completing their formal education?
M Yes Bob Gage, who graduated in OAC ’49 stayed around to undertake graduate studies. I hired him as an instructor. We had a problem at this point in our development as there was no graduate studies program in Physics, so we didn’t produce graduate students to serve as demonstrators in our labs. So, our regular staff had to demonstrate in the labs. At that time, to get students I used to go and work in the Toronto system, where I came from, and I could easily pick up graduate students who had finished their Masters degree, and maybe even before they were graduate students. If they had finished their Honours degree, and they wanted to try a year or so of teaching, I would talk them into coming to Guelph. They would work for a year or two and then go on back to complete graduate studies or in fact some of them landed High School teaching jobs in Ontario. Now, Bob Gage, as I mentioned, stayed with the system and later went away to study for his PhD and came back and became a fulltime regular Faculty member in the Physics Department. There was another group of students in OAC ’53 as I remember- Elrick, Miller and Stinson- who were all in the “General Science” option, and Stinson stayed at Guelph to do graduate studies, and Miller and Elrick went of to the US and did their PhD’s and then came back to the Soil Science Dept. here in the University. That was about the extent of those who came back to the University, but we got a lot of people into teaching in Ontario High Schools. A little bit later on there was a certification for teaching certificates that was raised from a Type “A”- “Agriculture” to “Type A Science”. This made our program even more attractive. So, there were years that we had a fair number of students that landed up in teaching.
B Yes. And you mentioned earlier that you ended up teaching some summer courses to older graduates, in order that they could upgrade their teaching certificate.
M Well, what was happening –OAC students that graduated in the ’50s or earlier started teaching after attending OCE and they had a “Type A Agriculture” certificate. They ended up teaching Science, and they were just as qualified as any other Science teacher when they got to the school. So, they wondered – since we had arranged our schedules to satisfy the requirement, if there was any way they could come back and take Courses that would upgrade their certificate. So, we had special summer courses for two or three years for former graduates, who wanted to upgrade their teaching certificate. There was a group of maybe a dozen or so, for two or three years.
B Very interesting. How about Professors or Staff members that you encountered or worked with, early in your career particularly. Do you recall them having a major impact on your career? For instance, I believe you mentioned Dr. MacLachlan – when he became President of OACin about 1950, he did a curriculum review, perhaps one of the first reviews after the War.
M Yes. What happened I come on the scene in 1948 to the Physics Department. Previous to about 1946, the Physics Department was not a Department. The teaching of Physics and Mathematics was administered from the Agricultural Engineering Department. In 1946, when William Reek was the President – he took advantage of the opportunity – to start an upgrade of the administration at least, so the teaching of Physics and Mathematics was moved to a seperate department called the Physics Department, which existed for many years. Well then in ’48, when I came to the Department, we started to upgrade the Courses – right through the whole system. And part of this was as a result of the new President, J.D. MacLachlan – and I think he became President in …
M So at that time, he started a whole series of reviews – particularly the schedule for the different options in OAC, and included the courses in the first two years, that were common to all students. It was at that time that we changed the schedule offered by the Physics Department so that it satisfied the “Type A Science” teaching certificate. So when MacLachlan became President, it was a great thing. He really started this review and upgrading of Courses, right at the top level. There was an instant situation in our Department. Professor Moffat had been teaching a Course in Statistics -which he called “Theory of Measurement”- to all Aggies. They probably took it in third year –maybe some students took it in fourth year – and he wanted a review of the Statistics course, and MacLachlan named his own committee. When it came to getting a representative from the Physics Department where the course was taught, he asked me to serve on it. So, I got involved in this review. Anyway that committee came up with a very good course outline for a new course in Statistics, aimed at students in biology and agriculture Options. When the Statistics course outline was handed back to the Physics Department to get it taught, Bob Moffat said, “I didn’t have anything to do with it, so you’re going to teach it.” So, I got asked to teach this new course in Statistics. I taught it for four years– and I must say, it was a very good Course. It was really designed by people who had been graduates of OAC, and who had gone off to the US for graduate studies, where they met this problem of having to take a course in Statistics. They learned how important it was to them, and that it was going to be important for people working in the agricultural and biological field in the future, particularly for research workers. And it worked all right, so it was a very good thing for the College that that Review got going. It happened when J.D. MacLachlan became President in 1950.
B I took the “Theory of Measurement” course from Prof. Moffat. And when I was taking my Masters, I did take your Statistics course, too., and so when I went to…
M Oh, you took the one that I taught.
B Yes. So, when I went to Iowa State College for my PhD, I was well grounded in Physics and had no trouble with Physics- or with Statistics.
M Many of our graduates, who went off to the US to do graduate studies – and this would often be young Faculty members –took a course in Calculus, and sometimes Statistics if they hadn’t already taken it, and when they went to do their Graduate School work, they found that it really cut a year off their time – because they could get into graduate courses that they couldn’t have otherwise. They’d have had to take the elementary courses first though.
B The other thing that we had an easier time with – was languages…because back in those times you had to pass two foreign languages, and Canadians had a much easier time with languages than the American students did.
But let me move on- do you recall anything about fellow professors or staff that had a major impact on your career, as such? I guess perhaps you’ve just touched on that, because you’ve mentioned Prof. Moffat and Dr. MacLachlan, so maybe I should move on, because I know you became an administrator in the Physics area of the University of Guelph and the Agriculture College.
M I’m wondering if I should include something first – about when I came to the university in ’48, and the state of techniques and equipment. These things were pretty poor in the sciences – and certainly in Physics. First of all, we didn’t have very much space in the old red Physics Building and it was important to be able to attract people, that we had more space. I immediately worked with the Faculty that we had here at that time to improve the level of our Courses, especially for the third and fourth year students, to be sure they were getting Courses that they would get in an Honours Science programme, and eventually up to an Honours Physics programme at other Universities. I think that I am usually credited for starting this development, i.e. building up our standards. It was only possible to do this, by recruiting new people. So, I would get some of our own graduate students – or even graduating students to come and work for us for a year. I think it was probably in about 1952, when we first had graduate students. The first graduate students that we had in the Physics Department were Bob Gage and Bob Stinson. Stinson graduated in ’53 and started a Masters degree as soon as he graduated. Then they continued further graduate studies in the USA and when they completed their Ph.D. degrees, they came back and joined our Physics department, as they were able to fit into the system. Both of these individuals got into what you would call Biophysics. In fact, they started a division within the department in Biophysics. And as time went on, we were able to recruit other people. I don’t know that you’d say these people had a lot of impact on my life, or career, but you have to recognize that when you have a building job to do, that no one is going to do it himself. You have to hire good people. And it’s these good people that you get in to do the job. I think that was my goal in the period when I was Head of Physics – and that we have to remember I was also looking after Mathematics too, and one of the characteristics new Profs. had to have, was that they were willing to work hard at teaching, because Physics had always been, and always will be very much a service Department to the other disciplines on campus. So, I think that’s the impression I’d like to leave- that it’s very important to get good people and we did get very good people that were dedicated to teaching.
B You said to me earlier, Earl, that it was difficult to hire Mathematics Faculty, when Physics and Mathematics were just one Department especially when it was in OAC. Maybe you’d comment on that, again?
M Yes. In the time before the Colleges became a University, the Physics and Mathematics staff were in one Department. The Mathematics faculty in the Department were very involved in teaching. In fact, I did more teaching in Mathematics and Statistics than I actually did in Physics. I set up a whole long list of courses, but it was hard to get people to come to Guelph if they could get a job some place else. And part of the problem was that Mathematicians liked to work where there were other Mathematicians to talk to and work with. We never got it built up to that level, so it was really hard to find them, but we did hire some good people. It was much easier to find people who had specialized in Physics because we had a group of people trained in that discipline, to make it a good place to work.
B Let us go back to the time when OAC became part of the Federated Colleges. I know you became Dean of Physical Sciences at some time, and I know some of the Faculty in OAC became part of Wellington College. Maybe you would comment on how Wellington College evolved into three colleges within the University of Guelph?
M Yes. Well, the University Act was signed in the Provincial Legislature in 1964. And we really got practicing under the new University in the fall of ’65. It was at that time when student numbers really increased. So in order to get the University underway, they established Wellington College – and they called it Wellington College of Arts and Science. And to provide a science core, the original Chemistry and Physics Departments, along with the English Department were transferred to the new Wellington College. So, all the people that were teaching in the Arts, Social Sciences and Physical Sciences disciplines were combined into Wellington College. There was a study of enrollments and the way things were going, it was evident from this study that was carried out in 1969, that Wellington College was going to be a monster compared with the founding Colleges. So, one night in Senate, without any great debate a Committee, that was studying this issue, brought forth a recommendation that Wellington College be split into- a College of Arts, a College of Social Science, and a College of Physical Science. So, that’s where we got the three Colleges out of one. And then there were a group of people in Biology who were never in Wellington College, but were part of OAC. This group felt that they would be better with a separate College of Biological Science. The first three Colleges got underway on July 1st (1970?), and I think it was another six months before the Biologists in OAC got there problems worked out and the College of Biological Science was formed. So they’re really six months younger than the other three. (Chuckle)
B So, somewhere around 1970, there were four colleges formed----
M That’s right, and that made the seven colleges.
B So, you became Dean of the College of Physical Sciences about that time. How long was your tenure as Dean, and do you have any interesting comments to make on that tenure?
M Yes. Well now, the first thing that should be clarified is- after Wellington College was formed in ’65, I think it was about a year later, in ’66 that I was made Associate Dean of Science in Wellington College. As an Associate Dean I was looking after the Physical sciences in the College, that I mentioned before, i.e. working on budgets for Murdo McKinnon, who was the new Dean of Wellington College. So for about three or four years I was Associate Dean of Wellington College. As soon as I became Associate Dean, I was doing the recruiting for the Physical Sciences and that type of thing, and before long I figured that it was time that I should stop doing that, but as Associate Dean, I continued to do the recruiting of Heads of Departments, but not Staff within the Departments. So, I would have been responsible for hiring people like Dr. Egelstaff, who was a world class physicist and was hired as Chairman of the Physics Department. In addition, I recruited Innes MacKenzie. A funny thing happened there! Originally, I had recruited Innes MacKenzie as a professor to come into the Physics Department. By the time he got to the University my status had changed, so I had decided to withdraw from being the Chairman of Physics and asked Innes to serve as Chairman, and he said he would but for three yeas only, and he stuck to the three years.(Chuckle) So, as an Associate Dean, I was involved in the business of recruiting people and eventually I recruited the new Chairman of Chemistry. R.S. Brown had been Head of Chemistry for a long time, and when he retired, I brought in Alan Coulter. At a later stage, I brought in Janzen, and likewise I recruited Jack MacDonald as Chairman of the Physics Department, who later became Dean of Physical Sciences.
B Indeed, I remember when Jack MacDonald was Dean of Physical Sciences…
B …and then later became Academic Vice-president.
M That’s right. And the person who followed him was, Iain (John L.) Campbell, who was Chairman of the Physics Department first, and then became Dean of Physical Sciences. So – a couple of these people moved right up to be vice-presidents.
B Now, when you were Dean of Physical Sciences, you mentioned the excellent teachers – do you recall anything about the research that was done in Physical Sciences – because as I recall there was some excellent research that came out of that College in those times – and of course more recently, too.
M Well, the problem we had in Physics, was that we were in the old red brick building right up until we got the new building in ’69. We had established a need for a new building as soon as the University was founded, and in fact before that. For several years, before the University Act was signed, there was money in the Ontario provincial budget for an addition to the old Physics Building. It was not big money – a half a million dollars or something like that, but that was never acted on. When we got to the stage of the University, the need was even greater to get some space to do good Physics research. And so, we started to plan for a new building that was finally occupied in the fall of ’69. We would have been planning the building for probably four years before that, so, the building was very well planned. I get a lot of credit for supervising that planning, but the Faculty that we had at that time – like Hunt and Stevens, and persons like that – and there were others – so one doesn’t like to mention names because you’re apt to leave someone out. Anyway, they worked hard on designing a good building. And one good feature of it was that we had an architect who had never built a science building, so he was willing to listen to us and do what we wanted him to do, instead of him telling us what to do. So, as a result we got a very good building and it was occupied in the fall of ’69, and then of course after that recruitment was much easier. We were off to a good start for all the programmes in Physical Sciences, then of course. We had Honours Physics Programmes and we had split Mathematics off, so, it was running as a separate Department of Mathematics and Statistics. And, I must say that during that period
– the year I became Head of the Physics Department, when Professor Moffat had retired, I had hired Gordon Ashton, who for years, provided much help with- both teaching the Statistics courses, and providing a consulting service for the research workers in the other Departments, including both graduate students and Faculty in those Departments. So a lot of credit has to go to our Statistics group for what they did.
B So, who followed you as Dean of the College of Physical Sciences? Was it Jack MacDonald?
M Yes. It was Jack MacDonald.
B And Jack MacDonald later became Vice-President Academic?
M Yes. I think he was maybe Chairman of the Department for two terms, probably.
B I guess I have to come back to your career – here. Did you then – after Jack MacDonald became Dean- go back to teaching? Or was that getting close to your retirement?
M I went back into the Physics Department and any person returns to the Physics Department has to do some teaching. So, I taught an Electronics course. But I didn’t have a heavy teaching load, because I got into some other administrative things that former Deans get into. Before I retired, there had been several studies on Pension matters. I was one of the faculty who had served on what was the old Board of Governors’ Pension Committee for years. But, that particular Committee didn’t do any planning. They just refereed on special concessions for people, and that type of thing. In 1978 – and a little bit before that – the Faculty members, when negotiating salaries, convinced President Forster that we were falling behind the other Universities. They got Forster to agree to set up a Committee to review the whole Pension System at Guelph – not just for Faculty, but the whole Pension System. So, Don Forster called me and said, “Earl, I want you to Chair this Committee.” I tried to sleep on it for one night (cough) and the next day told Forster- “You know, you shouldn’t be appointing a former Dean to chair that Committee, because people will say- ‘he’s just another arm of the Administration”. He said, “Earl, you’re going to do it.” (Chuckle) So, I was forced to do it. And I said, “OK. I’ll tell it the way it is.” (Chuckle) We formed a very good committee. I’m mentioning this because- people wonder what other things former administrators do. This committee was established to have representatives from all three pension plans, and from all groups on campus – teaching staff, technicians, physical plant employees, etc. Most of them knew anything about pensions. I had some knowledge about pensions, because when I was an undergraduate student, I took courses in Actuarial Science. I had taken courses on interest and bond values and on life contingencies, and so I knew a little about pensions and investments. I contacted our Actuary and he agreed to give us a talk on pension matters. This was done to bring all these people on the Committee up to speed. Anyway, in the end, the committee finalized a Report by January 1980. I must say all the typing, etc. was done in the Physical Science Associate Dean’s office by the Administrative Assistant – checking calculations that I had made- and by my secretary. It was a very comprehensive report. This started the ball rolling and it served as a kind of a planning thing. So that was one of the things that I did as a former Dean. I got involved in administrative things of that type. I think there were some other things, too. Did you have another question there?
B Do you have any other comment on what retirees become concerned with? Or anything in that regard?
M Well, after I retired in 1984, I was still involved at the University, because I had invited the “Learned Societies of Canada” to hold a conference at Guelph. Howard Clark was Academic Vice-President at that time, and it fell to him to get someone to organize the arrangements for this Conference. So, for a year, I did all the pre-organization necessary to handle this big Conference. It was a busy year! I went to the University of British Columbia the year before to attend the “Learned Society’s Conference” held there, just to see how extensive it was, and how they did it, and what things cost. This informed me on what we were facing. Conferences were getting pretty expensive, so, they were having to raise fees each year. I figured we could do it more economically at Guelph than at UBC. I did manage to raise some funds – about twenty- thousand dollars - from various businesses such as Molsons, Brights, and the Bank of Commerce, that was the University’s bank. That helped out, so I didn’t have to raise the fees and when the whole thing was over, I had a balance of twenty-thousand dollars. Now, if I reported this profit to the “Learned Society’s Conference Office” they’d say, “Oh, you charged too high a fee, you’ll have to give that back.” So, this profit was turned over to the University! So, in the University Centre, there is recognition saying the “Learned Societies of Canada” was a contributor to the funding of the University.
B Very good.
M We had this twenty-thousand dollars, but I could add it was a good thing for this University, because most of the people that belong to the “Learned Societies of Canada” had never heard much about the University of Guelph, and they came from far and wide. So it was a great thing to promote the University.
B Great. I remember when that conference was here. Now, you mentioned that was just after your retirement.
M Actually, it was in my final year before retirement.
B …before retirement.
B Now, I know you have spent a lot of time traveling, since you retired. And no doubt have done many other things. Perhaps we could talk a little bit about your retirement years, now?
M Yes. Well, first of all I should mention the next project at the University that came along. In 1989 we celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the University. And since I’d done something for the University in ’84, they thought it was time to recruit me again (Chuckle). So, I chaired the Committee that planned the various celebrations. One of the things that came out of that Committee was to get a person to write a book on the history of the first twenty-five years of the University. This book was freely circulated at the time and is a great source of information on the various Presidents, Vice-Presidents, also the Chancellors, each College Dean, and the Chairs of each Department of the University – up to 1988. The various Chairs of each Department were asked to provide information. It was edited by one person, Judith Colbert, so it’s written in a fairly uniform style. There is a write-up for every Department of the University, including the Service Departments. It’s a great historical book for what was going on up until 1989.
B So that was your second major contribution to the University – just pre– and post-retirement.
M Well yes, I stayed on the Pension Committee for several years. I was very glad that I got involved in pensions, because it was a case of where you could do something for everybody. The people that were around in those times – I remember when Bert Matthews came on as President from ’84 – the year I retired- until ’88. He was the guy that was going to be President when the “Learned Societies” were here. So I started to plan for the “Learned Societies” in ’83 and when it was announced that Bert was coming I contacted him re: how he wanted to run certain things, as the President had to be involved in some way. So, I always remember that!
Another thing that had an impact, that a lot of people probably don’t realize because they weren’t directly involved in it, was the pensions. When Bert Matthews came to Guelph, he had come from the University of Waterloo, and it was well recognized within the system, that the University of Waterloo had one of the best Pension Plans in the system, i.e. of all Ontario Universities. So, it was a good time, when Bert came, to start working on the Board of Governors and the President to get some improvements. So, it was during the Matthews years that I felt I made the best gains in Pensions for people at the University, i.e. for both Faculty and Staff. I was thankful for that, because he had come from a place where pensions were better than ours and saw no reason why ours shouldn’t be as good.
B Yes. And of course, he had originally been our Academic Vice-President, shortly after the University of Guelph was formed.
M Oh, yes.
B Now please describe some of your leisure activities since you’ve retired I know you have taken some interesting trips.
M Well, we did some interesting traveling. However, in 1981 when I was giving up the Deans job– the President wanted a study done which had to do with Priorities. Of course, Priorities have to deal with money. I think the President was Bert Matthews – so a committee was set up and it was really a committee of Deans, -- along with people from the Administration, that knew the budgetary situation. Since the Committee was going to be assessing priorities, the President thought well, McNaughton’s going to be stepping down as Dean so, he was the best guy to Chair the Committee as he wouldn’t be biased – because he wasn’t going to be around to reap the benefits. Well, I remember that we worked away at the task of how to set priorities for over a year. Anyway, this was before I retired and it was the last year that I was Dean. We assembled a report before I took a trip – you mentioned trips –to Europe. It was a bus trip for thirty-five days across Europe. And that was fine. But just before we left I had to go over and sign the last copy of our Report that was to go to the President. That was the day that our son-in-law was to take us to the plane. When I came home from the University and I must have put my trousers on the bed and left my wallet in them.When I started to go through the check-in at the Airport, I didn’t have my driver’s license, and we were going to try to rent a car, when we got to London. Well, being an International flight, we were there in lots of time. My son-in-law, David Sandals, hiked off back at high speed to Guelph. I had told him exactly where my trousers would be, and where my wallet was, and he got back, just as we were getting buckled into our seats and before they closed the aircraft door. He gave my wallet to the Air Attendant, who returned it to me. If that hadn’t happened it was going to be pretty nasty, because, Jean didn’t want to drive in London. Anyway, I always remember that incident. And we had a good trip across Europe. That was twenty-five years ago and we’ve done a lot of traveling since then. We have taken several bus trips and cruises. I think we were on a cruise with you Murray?...
B Yes, we cruised to Alaska together.
M In addition to the cruise to Alaska – Jean and I have taken trips to Australia, New Zealand and to China and that end of the world…
B And I know last summer you had a trip/a cruise in the Baltic.
M Oh yes. The most recent one was a lovely cruise in the Baltic. In July, we flew to Copenhagen, picked up a “Holland America”- big new “Western M” cruise ship and cruised up the Baltic to Talen, and then on to St. Petersburg, and spent a day in each place, except in St. Petersburg where we spent two days, and then back on the other side of the Baltic. We visited Helsinki and Stockholm and some other places before we got to Germany, too. We had beautiful weather, and the long days at that time of year made it very pleasant.
B That’s right. Now in addition to your travels- I am sure there must be other activities here locally, that you’ve been involved with since retirement.
M Oh, yes. I’m a Rotarian and we’ve got a very good Guelph-Wellington Men’s Club, so those are the two weekly meetings that I attend regularily. In addition, I get involved in some things at the church. We have a cottage, so during the summer season we spend a lot of time in Muskoka. We have been going there since 1950.
B Well, my last question before we close this off – and I don’t want to embarrass you, but, I’m sure there must have been some honours and awards that you have received during your lifetime.
M Oh, Yes. I suppose the greatest honour was to have them name the Physical Science Building – the McNaughton Building – after it was built. That would have been in ’87 or around that time. It would been after I retired that they named it the McNaughton Building, although they moved into it in the ‘70’s. And that would be because I was the first Dean of Physical Sciences and in charge of the operation that brought it into being, although it was very much a committee operation. We had good people in the Department who were enthusiastic about planning and it’s been a very, very good building. It has given them little bits of trouble, but never big things. And I guess the thing that best indicates how good a building it is that most recently the University has torn down the Chemistry & Microbiology Building for the new Science Complex and it was opened only a relatively few years before. The Chemistry Building had some features that were built to an old provincial code--a lot of fume hoods and things like that and maybe some of the best issues generously and shouldn’t be. The Physical Science Building was later in time and better built, than the buildings that were being built by Public Works. You may remember, that the old C&M Building was the last or second to last building that was built before the University of Guelph came into being in 1964.
B Oh, was it? Well I guess we don’t need to dwell on the specific dates of these things. The important thing at this time is that the C. & M. building is being torn down now and being replaced and they didn’t touch the Physical Sciences Building , i.e. the McNaughton Building, that you were instrumental in bringing about.
M Another interesting story in connection with the Physical Science Building – at the time they were pouring the concrete, on the second floor, Bill Winegard, who was President at that time, said-- “Earl, you better see if you can’t work some more space into the building to be used for the Mathematics Department.” And he added, “Above all, get yourself a Deans office.”
So, we changed the plan, and got a Deans office on the fourth floor, and a string of offices along the top corner to house Mathematics and Statistics in the same building.
They had previously moved out to the Arts Building
B I would expect that one reason that Dr. Winegard was interested in making sure there was a Dean’s office for Physical Sciences, was that when he first became President – or came as President to the University of Guelph, the President’s Offices were in the Library at that time.
M Yes it was.
B Yes. I think that’s something that is important to have on the record, and we have just placed it on record for posterity.
M Well it might be harder to make those modifications at the last moment to-day, as it was accomplished in Bill Winegard’s time.
B That’s right.
M For the President to say, “Go ahead”, you know. “We can’t wait any longer!”
He must have got it approved by some senior members of the Board, …because they couldn’t waste any time when they got the idea. It had to go ahead.
B Well, Earl, this has been a very interesting afternoon for me. Do you have any other comments that you’d like to make before we close off this interview?
M No. I think if I said any more, we’d stretch it out too long. I think we’ve hit the highlights pretty well.
B Thank you Earl, for telling us about you career as a Faculty Member and as Dean of Physical Sciences and your extensive involvement at the University of Guelph. It’s been a pleasure.
M Thank you