Oral History - Gallin, Jack


D. Murray Brown (00:01):
This is an interview with Jack Gallin, OAC '47, for the oral history records of the University of Guelph alumni, conducted by Murray Brown, OAC '51, on the 26th of February, 1999.

D. Murray Brown (00:18):
Jack, what prompted you to you enter OAC in the fall of 1943?

Jack Gallin (00:24):
Well, Murray, the war was on at that time. I sort of had a three way choice, either to stay on the farm or go to college or go in the armed forces.

Jack Gallin (00:35):
I was all set to go, probably into the air force, but my mother convinced me that I should go to college for one year and see how it went. That's finally what I did.

Jack Gallin (00:51):
Now, I went to OAC because that was the obvious place to go. I was always interested in farming and agriculture. I had investigated McMaster and actually was accepted there, but I never was seriously intended to go to McMaster.

Jack Gallin (01:09):
OAC was the one where I could afford to go and where I wanted to go. So, it was a pretty easy choice.

D. Murray Brown (01:17):
Jack, what were your impressions of the campus on your first arrival?

Jack Gallin (01:23):
Well, I had been on the campus several times before, as a child and my junior farmer courses and one thing another, but not since the war had begun. So, it wasn't the same as I had pictured it.

Jack Gallin (01:42):
Sometime after 1941, they had fenced in the main part of the campus. It was taken over by the Commonwealth Air Training Plan. So, the only part of the campus that the few students that were there, actually had access to was, pretty well everything south of Johnston Hall.

Jack Gallin (02:08):
We had about eight or nine buildings and no residences. So, it really wasn't much of a campus at all in 1943. It was just a collection of buildings.

D. Murray Brown (02:24):
I gather then, that you were not accommodated on campus in your first year. Would you board with someone in the city?

Jack Gallin (02:33):
I was very, very fortunate in that respect. I had come up a day or two before registration. The administration of the college was all in what I call the horticulture building, but I guess it's no longer the horticulture building. That's where the central registration and the administration of the college was housed.

Jack Gallin (03:02):
I went in there. They had a list of possible boarding places. One of them was just up the road from there, on College Lane, which is now Arboretum Road.

Jack Gallin (03:16):
There were three college houses there, that are now long gone. The middle one of those three accommodated the Florences. Jimmy Florence was the herdsman, the beef herdsman at the college.

Jack Gallin (03:32):
He and his wife and young son lived there. They had two rooms upstairs, and they put four students up there. My classmate Bill Abraham and I, ended up living in that house.

Jack Gallin (03:50):
It was a wonderful place to stay. It was handy to the campus. Mrs. Florence gave us our breakfast, and we got our meals in the cafeteria or wherever we could find it. I brought food back from home on weekends. We got by very nicely there.

D. Murray Brown (04:10):
So you actually didn't live in residence. You were accommodated on campus, though. That's very interesting to hear.

Jack Gallin (04:16):
It was on college property. It may not really have been campus. But yes, I guess it was near the old sheep barn, which is now the alumni building, of course.

D. Murray Brown (04:28):
You mentioned one of the staff members. How about the professors that you got lectures from in those times, Jack? Were there any interesting people to talk about?

Jack Gallin (04:37):
There were a lot of very interesting characters among the professors at OAC, at that time. I clearly remember several of them.

Jack Gallin (04:52):
I remember the first exposure to doc Staples was, he gave us a lecture in the old judging pavilion.

Jack Gallin (05:07):
He had lined up a bunch of farm machinery parts in a long row. His purpose was to sort out the farmers from the city boys, who had entered OAC that year. He made no bones about out that.

Jack Gallin (05:23):
Those of us that come from the farm, knew a section of a mower knife when we saw it or the tooth of a rake or a plowshare and a bunch of other stuff he had there.

Jack Gallin (05:39):
These people from the city were at a little bit of a disadvantage in that one, but his whole purpose was to sort that out. He obviously favored the boys who came from the farm, a little bit.

Jack Gallin (05:55):
Of course, Professor Blackwood, who became our honorary president of our class, I can remember him coming into the physics class and leaping up onto a table and pulling out a stick at dynamite and slamming it down on the table.

Jack Gallin (06:17):
He said, "Boys, you don't need to be afraid of that." And then he reached in his pocket and he pulled out a little wee fuse. He says, "This is the one you want to be careful about."

Jack Gallin (06:28):
And then he went on about some of the animal science people that put up electric fence without insulators. He was most upset about that.

Jack Gallin (06:38):
But Professor Blackwood was a wonderful man and a very outgoing and interesting man. We all loved him. And unfortunately, he retired in the middle of our time at OAC. So, we had really two honorary presidents.

Jack Gallin (07:05):
Professor Runions, in Animal Science, became our honorary president for the last two years.

Jack Gallin (07:12):
Another interesting professor was a prof, EC McLean, Chippy McLean in the English Department. He, along with Dr. Rayman and Professor Lowell, certainly did more than the call of duty, in trying to teach us farm boys something of the use of the English language. And largely succeeded, I think.

Jack Gallin (07:47):
Professor McLean especially, was very interested in teaching us this. He had a great way with him, of going about his job of teaching it.

D. Murray Brown (08:03):
Jack, I understand you majored in field husbandry as a student. Do you have any interesting comments on that program, in those years?

Jack Gallin (08:14):
Well, at the time, we thought it was great that we were learning stuff that we had never heard of before.

Jack Gallin (08:23):
Prof Bob Weir was teaching us genetics. We thought this was the cutting edge of agricultural knowledge.

Jack Gallin (08:34):
Prof MacRosty was the head of that department and Prof Laughlin and Prof Keegan. Norm Thompson was the potato expert there. And Don Huntley, in our last year or two, by the time we actually got into the option, was a young professor there. All these people were great.

Jack Gallin (08:59):
I mean, I know that the stuff we learned then is very basic stuff, compared to the biotech and everything they're teaching now. But at that time and in that situation, I think we got very best knowledge that we could get there.

D. Murray Brown (09:21):
You must have been involved with some extracurricular activities as a student, Jack. No doubt they were limited during those years, but what sort of activities were involved at that time?

Jack Gallin (09:33):
Well, they certainly were limited on campus, but we did use the Y downtown, to play basketball a bit. The arena downtown, we used to play a little bit of pickup hockey and one thing, another.

Jack Gallin (09:52):
There were some basic clubs on campus, each department. So, there was a field husbandry club and a poultry club and an animal husbandry club and that sort of thing.

Jack Gallin (10:06):
But certainly, there were really no facilities on campus for any extracurricular activities. Although we had dances and parties, but they were all held downtown, usually in Ryan's Hall, down on Rowett Street and Wyndham Street, I guess and other things like that.

Jack Gallin (10:35):
Now, I was very limited in my time for extracurricular activities anyway, because I almost had to go home every weekend. My parents were 70 years old, almost 70 years old when I started to college.

Jack Gallin (10:55):
They had just a ordinary mixed farm. I had to get home weekends to... I had some pigs and chickens there, that supported me at college. I just had to get home Saturday and Sunday, to kill chickens and deliver eggs.

Jack Gallin (11:19):
I had an old car. It was the only family car we had. I even had to get home weekends, to get groceries and that sort of thing. So, I had very little time for extracurricular activities.

Jack Gallin (11:35):
In fact, in those days, we had to go to class on Saturday mornings. We were allowed to miss three Saturday mornings in a semester. And if you missed any more, you were out. They always kept strict attendance records and everything. So, I always missed my allocated three. I was really farming as much as I was going to college.

D. Murray Brown (12:04):
Jack, even though you missed activities on campus on weekends, I want to note, there were many friendships that were formed, that have been lasting for a number of years.

Jack Gallin (12:17):
Oh my goodness. Yes. Many of my very best friends are people who were in year '47 OAC. Bill Abraham and I met the first day of when we went to register. We lived together in the same room for a year and a half. And then after Christmas of 1945, in the middle of our second year, we got back into residence.

Jack Gallin (12:52):
The war was over, and the training plan was dismantled. We got into Johnston Hall, which we then called the Administration Building.

Jack Gallin (13:04):
Bill and I lived together for the rest of that year, in a room on the fourth floor of Johnston Hall. And we've been lifelong friends, ever since, as well as a lot more.

Jack Gallin (13:18):
In fact, everyone in '47, actually, I've been a lot more active with, since we graduated, keeping the class together and arranging reunions and that sort of thing, than I ever was active extracurricularly in college.

Jack Gallin (13:41):
All these people are my friends, the ones that were left. I think we've lost 13 or 14 out of the original 59 now.

Jack Gallin (13:54):
Don Allen, I just heard, died the other day in British Columbia. He's the latest to go, but there are still 38 or nine of us, I think, 40.

Jack Gallin (14:07):
Only two of the class, have we not been in touch with since graduation. We think we know where they are, but they've shown no interest in coming back.

Jack Gallin (14:19):
We have a reunion every five years. We get very good attendance at it.

Jack Gallin (14:25):
The one thing I would like to mention is that, in the fall of 1945, when we were going into third year, we had 21 returning veterans who had been in the classes of '42 and '43 originally. And thus, had lost four and five years respectively, from their college careers and eventually from their careers as a whole, because they'd been in the services and most of them overseas, some of them wounded. They came back with us in third year.

Jack Gallin (15:11):
Some of them became my best friends too. I've always given them tremendous credit, because here they were four and five years older than us, having been through the war and lost all this time. We were just a bunch of kids, who'd come from high school and had never been in the war.

Jack Gallin (15:34):
I never heard one of them express any bitterness or anything about that. They just came in and accepted us, as we accepted them. They became an integral part of year '47, and I've always really appreciated that.

Jack Gallin (15:53):
Now, I should have mentioned that the first two years we were at OAC, we were in the reserve armed services, either navy, army or air force. So, we were subject to call, and we were being trained twice a week, all through the academic year.

Jack Gallin (16:16):
We had two nights a week of training and two weeks in the summer, that we had to go for training. So, although we weren't in the armed forces, we were available to be called if we had to be.

Jack Gallin (16:28):
But I just wanted to say how much I appreciated these chaps, who were in the active service and how they came back and fitted right in with year '47.

D. Murray Brown (16:40):
Jack, when you graduated from OAC, where did you start your career after graduation?

Jack Gallin (16:47):
Well, I didn't have a lot of choice about that. As I said, my parents were elderly. My father was almost 50 years old when I was born. My mother wasn't a whole lot younger.

Jack Gallin (17:05):
By the time I graduated, they were at the age where they should have been retired, but all they had was this little, almost a subsistence farm, down in what was then East Flamborough Township, now part of the town of Flamborough.

Jack Gallin (17:30):
I felt that I had no choice, but to go back, at least for a while and help them out. I had a couple of opportunities to do other things. I've often wondered what would've happened, if my situation had been otherwise.

Jack Gallin (17:55):
International Nickel at Sudbury, were looking for someone. I was interviewed by them and offered the job to rehabilitate the area around Sudbury, that had been denuded by the smokestacks and that sort of thing.

Jack Gallin (18:14):
I think they did get somebody. I've heard of him later, and he did a pretty good job on it and made quite a career out of it. I sometimes wondered what might have happened if my situation had been different.

Jack Gallin (18:27):
I was also offered a job with the poultry department. I was very interested in poultry, always have been. I did well in the poultry part of the...

Jack Gallin (18:42):
There was no poultry option at that time, but we did have poultry courses. I got along well with the professors in the poultry option.

Jack Gallin (18:54):
I remember, they offered me a job in the department there. And I've often wondered, if my circumstances had been different, I might have gone on there and perhaps taken grad work and ended up in the Faculty of the Poultry Department.

Jack Gallin (19:08):
But none of those things were to be. I went back to the farm. And as luck would have it, the farm right next door became available.

Jack Gallin (19:21):
We were able to buy that through the auspices of Ontario Hydro, who put a tower line across our farm. And after two years of suing them in court cases and one thing and another, we got enough from Ontario Hydro, to put a good down payment on the neighboring farm.

Jack Gallin (19:46):
I've always had a little bit of soft spot for Ontario Hydro, although most farmers don't. Although they certainly inconvenienced us, and they reduced the value of our farm considerably, by putting this huge power line angle way across it, it did give us the means to buy the second farm.

Jack Gallin (20:13):
We were there. I got married then, in '53. We lived on that farm.

Jack Gallin (20:20):
My father died in '55. My mother then went to live with her sister, in Burlington, and we carried on farming there. Eventually, we sold that farm in '69, no '59, and bought another one.

Jack Gallin (20:50):
Then, I had an uncle who had a really good farm, but the barn was falling down. He was at the end of his rope. We had to take that one over.

Jack Gallin (21:03):
We sort of became land poor. We had lots of land and no buildings and very little money. And by '63 I had a young, growing family, '64.

Jack Gallin (21:17):
I thought I'd better try something else. I was either going to have to sell some of this land or do something to get some cashflow. So, I had the chance to go with the Ontario Department of Agriculture, with the soils and crops branch, as a soils and crops field man.

Jack Gallin (21:40):
I've always been tremendously thankful that I had my OAC training and degree, because I would've had no chance at that job.

Jack Gallin (21:53):
I spent two years at that. That was a wonderful experience, working in Halton and Peel and York and Simcoe Counties, dealing with ag reps and farmers. It was just great.

Jack Gallin (22:08):
But then in 1966, the University of Guelph had been formed. The cooperative research project between university of Guelph and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food was underway.

Jack Gallin (22:32):
They bought the land, which became the Elora Research Station. I was fortunate enough to get the appointment as supervisor of the agricultural research stations.

Jack Gallin (22:46):
I greatly appreciated that. Made great friendships and thought that was a great experience.

Jack Gallin (22:57):
I stayed with that until 1974. But in the back of my mind, I still hadn't got the farming dream out of my system. And by '73, '74, the research stations weren't expanding anymore, although they've expanded greatly since. It looked to me as if things were slowing down a bit.

Jack Gallin (23:29):
We had a chance to buy farm out in Eramosa Township, near Rockwood. And after some consultation with the family, we decided to do that.

Jack Gallin (23:39):
So, I gave up the job and went out and farmed for another 13 years. Met a whole new group of friends and neighbors out there, some of whom I wouldn't want to have missed knowing. That was a great experience.

Jack Gallin (24:01):
In 1985, my back gave out. We had a chance to sell that farm and buy another property nearby, which was 40 acres of bush and swamp and a nice house on the corner of it, on some high ground. So, we sold the farm and bought that and lived there for another 10 years. Met some more new neighbors and made some more friendships.

Jack Gallin (24:31):
And then just out of the blue, in 1996, some people came along. They liked our place, and they wanted to buy it.

Jack Gallin (24:46):
I was having some health problems at the time. One ankle was giving me a lot of trouble. So, we took their offer and came in and bought a place here at the Village by the Arboretum, which sits on University property.

Jack Gallin (25:07):
Now, we've been here for another two and a half years, and we have made a whole other set of friendships.

Jack Gallin (25:17):
Over the years, we really lived in many different situations. We've lived in eight different houses, since we were married. Every one of them was in a different location, and we made new contacts with people.

Jack Gallin (25:33):
We think we've had a very, very rich life. A good deal of that goes back to the training and the friendships and the contacts that I was able to make, during my four years at OAC, way back in the forties.

D. Murray Brown (25:52):
Since you lived in eight different communities, Jack, what sort of activities did you get involved with, in those communities?

Jack Gallin (25:59):
Well, I was never really deeply involved in community affairs. Although, I have always been involved in something.

Jack Gallin (26:11):
I was the first secretary treasurer of the parks board, immediately after the war, in Waterdown.

Jack Gallin (26:20):
We developed an old sandpit into a park, a baseball field with lights and bleachers and all the facilities.

Jack Gallin (26:29):
I was also on the high school board at Waterdown, in the sixties, and had a rather interesting and somewhat difficult three or four years there, with new building project and hiring staff, when there was a shortage of teachers and that sort of thing.

Jack Gallin (26:51):
After we moved to Guelph, I was involved in some alumni affairs. I was a one time chairman of the alma mater fund committee. And then out in Eramosa Township, I was the first chairman of the library board out there.

Jack Gallin (27:11):
I've been involved in several churches. I've been on the board of three different United Church congregations and that sort of thing, but I don't consider myself to have did an awful lot of community service, really.

Jack Gallin (27:30):
Right now, I'm involved with the Guelph Wellington Men's Club, which is a very interesting organization to belong to. I take great pleasure in the weekly meetings of that.

D. Murray Brown (27:43):
Jack, this has been a very interesting half an hour, reminiscing on your student days and life activities.

D. Murray Brown (27:50):
As you know, our paths have crossed in several ways, since we both returned to Guelph in the 1960s, but I did not know many of your life experiences, until today.

Jack Gallin (28:03):
Well, Murray, I'm glad you came out here and gave me a chance to reminisce about these things. I appreciate that. I hope this recording will be of some use to the archives and whoever gets to listen to it in the future.

D. Murray Brown (28:25):
This has been an interview with Jack Gallin, of OAC '47, by Murray Brown of OAC 1951.