Oral History - Adams, Dave


E. Brubaker (00:01):
This is a interview with Dave Adams conducted by Ed Brubaker, an Alumni House on January 14th, 1997. Dave is a graduate of the OAC having graduated in 1949. He's going to tell us some of the activities of his life and so on. Dave, what did you, where did you come from? Where was your home and what encouraged you to come to the OAC?

Dave Adams (00:37):
Well Ed, I was born in Toronto and at a very early age I decided I wanted to be a farmer. And so part of the process, I guess, was that I decided that if I were going to be a farmer, I should come to Guelph. I had some relatives who had been through here and some farmer friends who had been through here. Of course the war was on when I was going through high school. And I worked on farms during the spring and summer and into the fall for most of that period. And when I finished high school, of course, I originally thought that I would be going in the services. But the war ended at just about the same time. And so I ended up here putting in an application and came to Guelph.

E. Brubaker (01:31):
So you came here in September I guess, of 1945.

Dave Adams (01:36):
September of 1945. And the war hadn't been over very long and I was 17 years old. And heavens, there were students here who were a good 10 years older. Some of them, even 20 years older than I was. Who just finished many years of very harrowing experiences overseas in one of the services. And I can tell you what, that was quite an experience for a young fellow like me to suddenly move into residence with all of that game.

E. Brubaker (02:08):
Dave, the majority of your 49ers were ex-service. I don't know what percentage, but a high percentage. Did you ever feel any discrimination against you or did you ever feel that some of these veterans who had a lot of experience and harrowing experience, as you mentioned, look down on you or tried to ostracize you or were you accepted as a year member and went on from there?

Dave Adams (02:38):
Oh, I would say I was fully accepted as a year member. Never, never experienced any discrimination. It was always a problem to keep up with these experienced mucks who were around. Some of them were very fatherly types and they helped keep us out of trouble and had lots of good advice. It was really quite an experience sitting around with them and hearing some of the war stories relived. And of course it was primarily the good times that were relived. It was great fun being with the group.

E. Brubaker (03:15):
Can you recall one or two of those stories?

Dave Adams (03:18):
Yes. One experience I'll never forget. I think it was about the second day that we were in residence. And we were down the hall in another room visiting with another couple of new students. And one of them was a fellow who had just been discharged from the corvette he had served on in the North Atlantic. And he'd come on the train from Halifax and he'd come directly to Guelph. He hadn't even been home on leave. And somebody had the contract to deliver newspapers in the residence. And this fellow delivery one through the newspaper against the door of that room. And the bang went off and this fellow who just been discharged, put his hands over his ears and dove under the desk. And that was an experience of seeing some of the downside of the service.

Dave Adams (04:08):
And, and then of course, I'll never forget one day we were all in class. I must have been in the spring cause it was fairly warm. And I think it was a meteor jet plane. One of the early jets flew over, fairly low, that was the end of classes. Everybody was out on the lawn to see this new aircraft. To heck with the props and the lectures and schedules. This was an important event. Those are just a couple of quick experiences that come upon.

E. Brubaker (04:33):
Oh, very good. It was an experience year and then year with a wide variety of abilities and ages and so on. We can look back on that year 49, as I think a pretty outstanding year here at the OAC.

Dave Adams (04:50):
I agree. I mean, and the average age was of course probably the highest average age that had ever gone through. Another thing about the year, of course, was at about one third of the class started at Christmas or just after new year's. They lived in McDonald Hall and they finished up in June rather than, or July rather than earlier. So when we came back in the fall of sophomores, our class was larger and there were more people to get to know. And the bulk of us lived in residence by and large, the students who, or the classmates who didn't live in residence were married and lived downtown with their wives, some of them with their family. So it was quite a group and very diverse backgrounds and from all parts of the country, really.

E. Brubaker (05:42):
Very dedicated fellows too, because some of them didn't have a chance to go to university before the war. And the war came along and the chance came to come to university and they didn't want to spoil that chance.

Dave Adams (05:57):
That's right. And another thing, Ed. The first little while rationing was still on. We didn't get the variety of food that came along later. Automobiles were by and large cars that were made pre-war. I can remember when some of the first post-war cars came out, there was somebody drove a brand new convertible onto the campus. And that was quite an event, a brand new car and a convertible at that. Otherwise, they were old 1930 vehicles that took on a lot of patching to keep mobile.

E. Brubaker (06:30):
And not very many of them.

Dave Adams (06:32):
No, no, no, not very many. And the buses that we traveled on were all pre-war buses. And they were held together with the wire and rope. And of course it was steam train if it was the other mode to travel.

E. Brubaker (06:46):
Do you remember anything David in particular or regarding your residence life? I presume you lived four years in residence.

Dave Adams (06:53):
Yes. I lived four years in residence and with the same roommate for each of the four years. Hugh Shepherd, who incidentally after being out in a couple of years, came back and took his a degree at OBC. So he came back and had more time in residence. My roommate had a cousin, who in year 48, a sophomore, and he made sure that we were properly initiated. Certainly, our beds were thrown out of our fourth floor window from the now Johnson Hall quite a few times, or if they better than throwing them out was way of getting them out the window. So they hung in the eavestrough . Was that much harder to retrieve them. But, and then of course we had to mount raids back on his residence, which was the maids dormitory, which of course is full of students at that time. The maids have long since departed and incidentally for our second and third years, we were in maid dormitory and fourth year in Mills Hall. And certainly the experience of living in residence was just great. That was where the education was.

E. Brubaker (08:11):
You made good friends.

Dave Adams (08:12):
Oh, good friends. And you learned how to dish it out, how to take it and have a laugh. Plus you had to at some point discipline yourself to meet the deadlines and pass the exams. But you had to keep that in balance.

E. Brubaker (08:29):
Some of these residences were noted for various things such as water fights and so on. Dave, were you ever involved in anything like that? Any pranks?

Dave Adams (08:38):
Yes. Involved in a few water fights. But we'll never forget the water fight to end all water fights and in Johnson Hall. When the president's apartment was flooded out down on the second floor from water that originated on the fourth floor. A lot of that water was carried upstairs in stir pumps that came from an old Air Force Parade that was liberated on the campus. Anyway, it was a wonderful fight. And their men hit with many buckets of alternately hot and cold water. And we had of course carried on the tradition with the odd good water fight in maids dormitory. Prof. Bob Forshaw was our residence Dean. And he had a good pair of long rubber boots and Southwestern hat and a great big raincoat. And he used to come out when the water fights were on to direct the traffic and avoid collisions on the corners and so on. And then he'd open the mop cupboard after it was over and saw that we cleaned it up. Yeah. We had a few good water fights.

E. Brubaker (09:49):
And a lot of fun. That's right. And relieved. A lot of tension.

Dave Adams (09:52):
I'll say it did. And some of these fellas who been in the service a long time were the ones who enjoyed it the most. Presumably they'd had a little experience overseas in some barracks as well.

E. Brubaker (10:06):
Okay. Dave, then you graduated in 1949. And what type of work did you do for the first several years?

Dave Adams (10:14):
Well, I ended up, they had basically an extension work was with the Ontario department as a rep in Eastern Ontario for a couple of years. Then I went to Truro, Nova Scotia to the Nova Scotia Agricultural College. And taught animal husbandry there and a number of animal at nutrition, a number of courses related to livestock and also did livestock field work in Nova Scotia. Which gave me a chance to also to see the rest of the Maritimes. And that was quite an experience. And then in the mid fifties, I joined the staff of the Canadian Meat Council and stayed with them until I retired.

E. Brubaker (11:00):
And what type of work did you start with in the Meat Council?

Dave Adams (11:03):
Well, originally I was their Ontario field man with the Meat Council. And then I was briefly the doing field work in Western Canada. And then I was a secretary treasurer for many years and eventually became a general manager. And of course the Meat Council was a trade association for the meat packing industry. So a lot of our work was extension type work with livestock producers, and the meat inspection officials, and trade officials, technology development. It was very interesting work. Extension work in an industrial environment.

E. Brubaker (11:42):
And it took you right across Canada?

Dave Adams (11:44):
Took me right across Canada, to Japan three times, and into the States. I ended up very much involved in the latter stages, promoting the north, the free trade agreement with the Americans, because we had been involved in many scraps with [inaudible] over pork exports. There are some of their import controls. So trade and travel. I seem to be heading for the airport many times during every week and writing speeches and that sort of thing, not home a lot.

E. Brubaker (12:25):
But you enjoyed the work.

Dave Adams (12:26):
Oh very much. Oh gosh. It was great. And one of the nice things about traveling was that there was a chance to continue the network of all the contacts from classmates and others around OAC and University of Guelph.

E. Brubaker (12:43):
The Meat Council, Dave, did it just deal with red meats?

Dave Adams (12:46):
Just red meats. Yes.

E. Brubaker (12:49):
And primarily beef and pork?

Dave Adams (12:50):
Beef and pork, a little bit of lamb and veal, but primarily pork and beef.

E. Brubaker (12:57):
It still going?

Dave Adams (12:58):
Still going strong, although they changed their method of operating and they don't have the provincial offices anymore. We had field offices in Quebec and in Western Canada and the head office in Toronto. And now the field offices has been closed. The head office is located in Ottawa where it probably should be in the current environment.

E. Brubaker (13:20):
Okay. Dave, tell me how your education here at the OAC and obviously never went into farming, but how did your program here and your four years you spent here help you in all of your work and in your life and so on?

Dave Adams (13:41):
Well, I guess Ed, what I picked up here, either in classes or environment, well I never farmed. I did get to be pretty knowledgeable on the livestock side. And I must say the time I spent teaching was a wonderful experience. Because if you want to learn something and the best way to learn it is to have to teach it. I found that was good. I guess the whole atmosphere of living in the residence, participating in extracurricular activities here, having to give reasons in the judging classes to justify your decisions you'd made. All of that experience added up to where I felt quite at home. It was lots of fun getting involved in the extension and teaching, and then, because it was all people related. And I like that.

Dave Adams (14:46):
As a matter of fact, I guess one of the reasons I decided that if I stayed at the agricultural college in Truro, on the staff. That I would've had to have gone for postgraduate work and I didn't see myself cut out as a long term student or getting into the research side. I much favored the extension side. All of it like the wisdom that came from the profs and the wisdom that came from the bull sessions, even the wisdom, the tactics in the water fights, all of these things, they were all very useful, had been over the years. And I guess, Ed, that it must have effected me enough in my talking at home with our own family. Because two of my youngsters came to Guelph and are graduates. So they wanted to carry on the tradition. They figured if the old man had that much fun and didn't do him any harm, they'd better get on and follow along.

E. Brubaker (15:53):
Very good David. So you didn't get all your wisdom from professor Knox, the head of the animal science department at that time.

Dave Adams (15:59):
No, but I certainly could had a lot of things. He said that I haven't forgotten.

E. Brubaker (16:03):
Can you recall some of those?

Dave Adams (16:09):
Well, I don't know whether this is fit for is for public broadcast, but I could always remember Prof Knox could talk. We were talking about different breeds of cattle and how they had to wrestle. And sometimes the pasture season got pretty rough. It dies weather. Some of these cattle, they be able to make a living on a grasshopper pasture. He said, you know what a grasshopper pastor is? But he knew, of course, that takes a shower of shit today and a shower of rain tomorrow.

E. Brubaker (16:37):

Dave Adams (16:37):
Well that was Prof Knox and there are lots more, but interestingly, I saw an obituary in the paper the other day and the name Torrance Beardmore was mentioned. And part of that obituary, my eyes just glued on it because Prof Knox used to talk about Torrance Beardmore and the Yellow Briar Farm and Shorthorn history. I could go on and pro be and many, many more and the gems that they, they dropped. And many of these things, of course, I was able to pass on to them. And I had students in Truro as well. And some of them still remembered. I know, because I see them and get together with them occasionally.

E. Brubaker (17:20):
Perhaps they're relieving stories about you now.

Dave Adams (17:24):
Probably are.

E. Brubaker (17:26):
Any other profs you particularly remember or any that you didn't always agree with?

Dave Adams (17:34):
Well, I remember of course, Bob Forshaw I remember Bunny Renyans. I remember Frank Wolf because I had a little bit to do with Frank after he went with the railway. I remember Chippy McLean in English and of course his wife. Because I was involved with in Mem Hall and with some of the drama on the stage crew. And of course, Chippy and his wife were very good on the staging. Prof Raymond, I can remember some of the people in field husbandry.

Dave Adams (18:10):
There were all kinds of characters. And of course at the time, I think before we graduated, the university or the college at that time had been subject to some criticism because it was too much an agricultural college and not strictly academic enough. Some of the profs though, who had the best academic backgrounds, are not the best communicators. And anyway, they were very hard working. I know that because with our class, they had to give sometimes the same lecture, sometimes six times over. And certainly a lot of the labs had to be done six times over. And the lectures where they could combine, they were possibly able get away with three times over. But that was a pretty tough load. I often wondered how they marked the exam papers.

E. Brubaker (19:12):
Because it was a big class, David.

Dave Adams (19:14):
Yeah. How they could ever get through them. Because with the number of us who graduated, there were far many more as students.

E. Brubaker (19:23):
Compared to previous years.

Dave Adams (19:24):

E. Brubaker (19:25):
I don't know what the exact numbers were, but.

Dave Adams (19:28):
Well, I think we were up around 300 inn the earlier years, at least. And compared to the year before, which probably had 50 students. Huge change.

E. Brubaker (19:39):
Yep. And of course it was right after the war. The Air Force had been on the campus here for quite a few years. They didn't have all the buildings. They had to set these buildings up again for teaching and so on. It must have been a pretty terrific load on them at that fall there that first year.

Dave Adams (19:58):
Just talking about right after the war, another indication of the times was that to earn a little spare cash I worked for Edna Roberts, down in the cafeteria and I felt fairly lucky. The starting the wage was 15 cents an hour. And then we got a raise to 25 cents an hour. But it was amazing how far you could make that money stretch for working there. Maybe one evening, a week at a banquet or clearing the supper dishes away a couple of nights a week.

E. Brubaker (20:32):
Okay. Dime went a long ways.

Dave Adams (20:34):
It did. Yeah.

E. Brubaker (20:35):

Dave Adams (20:36):
And, and you could make an awful lot of your own fun for less than a dime too.

E. Brubaker (20:40):
David, you referred to extracurricular activities and you referred to working in the cafeteria and working and being involved in some of the drama things that went on. What other things would you like to expand on those things at all?

Dave Adams (20:59):
I wasn't what you'd call a terrific sports enthusiast. But I did play a little bit on the inter class sports. But not a lot, went out for some of the field sports, but not a lot. Mainly the animal husbandry club and the working in Mem Hall on, on the stage crew, which took a fair bit. I was the President of Canterbury club, which was an Anglican students club that started. And I guess I ended up getting the job of presidency. And that was an interesting experience too. Those were the main extracurricular.

E. Brubaker (21:44):
But they did help you.

Dave Adams (21:45):

E. Brubaker (21:46):
Broadening your patient, giving you experience.

Dave Adams (21:50):
Yes. Yes. And of course the other thing, it bridged the gap to an informal relationship with the faculty. So you had a chance to get information out of the faculty on a completely different plane. And that was good.

E. Brubaker (22:10):
Dave, I know you have been actively involved with the alumni association at the University of Guelph. Can you tell us what sparked your interest in that and some of the things you have done?

Dave Adams (22:29):
Well, I was asked, Ed, in about 1960 or thereabouts, if I would, maybe it was a little sooner than that. If I would come on the Board of the OAC Alumni Association. And I did. And it was quite an experience working away there and in various assignments over the years. And eventually I ended up as president. And it was a very interesting time because towards the end of my stage on the OAC Board, we were getting into the mid 1960s when the university was coming very much to the fore. And I can well remember one meeting, an annual meeting of the OAC Alumni Association in 1965. I think it was. Might have been the year before when there was a message from Premier Frost that he was going to form a university and the minister of education was here to try and delay our fears.

Dave Adams (23:50):
Then Gordon Nixon was the president of the OAC Alumni Association after the university was formed. And the chairman of the Board of Governors spoke at that meeting and he challenged the OAC alumni to take the lead in making sure that the university got off on the right grounds, the new university, as far as tradition and as far as the alumni association was concerned. The OAC Alumni Association took the bit in its mouth and it aligned itself with the Mac Institute Alumni and the OPC Alumni. And there was a joint alumni committee, which I was involved with. I was the secretary of. And we worked away with President McLaughlin and the Board of Governors. The vice chairman of the Board was Fred Brazaunt and he was very interested in the alumni. And anyway, we proposed a constitution for an alumni organization, University of Guelph Alumni Association. And ensured that a lot of the values of the founding colleges and their alumni associations would be preserved in the new one.

Dave Adams (25:08):
So it just seemed inevitable because of that. And that I ended up after doing my term as president of the OAC Alumni Association, I had been on the board of some of the earlier U of G committees that I ended up there and ended up as president of you U of G Alumni Association.

Dave Adams (25:33):
I thought things were over and I'd have more time with my wife and family, but then they came along and asked me if I'd go on the Board of Governors. It was a pretty hard thing to say no to. And I didn't say no. It was quite an honor. It was another chance to try and repay some of the debt. Which I've always felt towards the OAC. I did six years on the Board of Governors and a little time on the Senate. I guess I was involved with the OAC Alumni Foundation for a spell in there as well. Now I'm through all those roles and all I can do is sort of keep an eye on things and make sure that some of the tradition isn't lost and still feel that I have a large stake in this place. And it certainly has a large stake in my life. And I want to try and pay back as much as I can.

E. Brubaker (26:34):
Very good. David. Now at home, you were traveling a lot and you didn't get involved in some things. Were you involved with your church?

Dave Adams (26:50):
Very little bit, but it was all I could do to get there. Because I was on the road a lot and a lot of weekend traveling and the same applied to service clubs. I never was able to get involved with service club. But I did get involved with the Agricultural Institute. To a point and more particularly with the scientific societies and with the used to be in the society of animal reduction. Now, the society of animal science. Also with the extension society, I was a member for a while at the Farm Writers Association. And then there's an association of associations that can now the Canadian Society of Association Executives. And I was involved there. And I guess for many years I had the good fortune to represent the Meat Council on the Canadian 4H Council. I was able to put in a little time there in that organization. I'm pleased to keep up my membership there and in some of the others as well.

E. Brubaker (27:58):
Did you hold any executive offices in any of those groups?

Dave Adams (28:01):
Oh, I was President of the 4H Council. At one point I was President of the Extension Society. I was President of the Eastern Branch of the society of Animal Science. And well, that was about it.

E. Brubaker (28:18):
And you found time to work.

Dave Adams (28:20):
Oh yeah. And all there was, it was a sort of a seamless sort of a thing. Because the work was largely extension work and much of this work was involved all pretty close to livestock industry. My wife was a farm girl and our kids enjoyed agriculture too. So we could manage to combine business with pleasure through most of the time.

E. Brubaker (28:47):
And now Dave you're retirement, which is probably the best time of life and so on. And what are you doing now?

Dave Adams (28:58):
Well, I was involved as a Director of the George Morris Center and my term was up this earlier this year or I guess early last year. I was involved with one or two other things. But slowly I'm getting clear of those and making way I've represented the Institute of Virologist on the Ontario Farm Animal Council. But my term there will be over very shortly. It's time for someone else to take over. But I like to keep in touch with some of the websites on my computer and like to read the Farm Magazine. And when I get together with some cronies about once a month and we have a good gossip session and keep up trying to keep up to date.

E. Brubaker (29:46):
Do you have any plans for you and your wife? What you hope to do?

Dave Adams (29:53):
Nope. We're enjoying our house very much. We're enjoying being at home. I am enjoying very much not going to the airport. We travel to the Maritimes at least once a year. And with some of the family out west, we get out west. But by and large right at home, We have no desire to go south. We'd been to England a number of times, and we sometimes think we'd like to go back for another trip. But again, we think guys had pretty nice here at home.

E. Brubaker (30:23):
Very good, Dave, I think maybe this is my place to terminate it, this interview. Thank you very much for your comments here. And I'm sure that these will be of interest many, many people, particularly your involvement with the OAC that you maintain in various roles with the cultural organizations.