Florence Partridge (00:00:05):
Jean, let's start at the very beginning. Where were your parents living when you were born?
Jean Walker (00:00:11):
Florence Partridge (00:00:11):
Jean Walker (00:00:13):
In a little place. That was the, the first place that my father preached, was in Wellandport.
Florence Partridge (00:00:20):
Your father was a clergyman?
Jean Walker (00:00:22):
Florence Partridge (00:00:23):
In what denomination?
Jean Walker (00:00:26):
Well, at that time it was Methodist, and of course now United.
Florence Partridge (00:00:33):
Did you have brothers and sisters?
Jean Walker (00:00:35):
I have a sister th-... older than myself, and a sister younger than myself, and a brother who was the youngest.
Florence Partridge (00:00:46):
I see. So you had an older sister to sort of, uh, guide you along the way?
Jean Walker (00:00:51):
Yes, and she went to Mac Hall one year ahead of me.
Florence Partridge (00:00:55):
Jean Walker (00:00:55):
So, she did pave the way.
Florence Partridge (00:00:57):
I see. Where did you go to elementary school?
Jean Walker (00:01:02):
In, um, Preston first, and Guelph second.
Florence Partridge (00:01:09):
Your, your father was a clergyman here in Guelph?
Jean Walker (00:01:11):
Yes, in Dublin Street Church.
Florence Partridge (00:01:13):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And, uh, high school?
Jean Walker (00:01:19):
In Niagara Falls. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Florence Partridge (00:01:22):
I see. Can you remember very much of your high school days? One thing-
Jean Walker (00:01:34):
Florence Partridge (00:01:34):
One thing you might, uh, think about, uh, did they have guidance teachers at that time?
Jean Walker (00:01:40):
Florence Partridge (00:01:40):
There was no-
Jean Walker (00:01:41):
Florence Partridge (00:01:41):
... help in choosing what, uh, profession you would go into?
Jean Walker (00:01:45):
No, and there was very little choice even if you did, uh, have a guidance teacher, because nursing, teaching, um, or being a secretary were practically all that was offered.
Florence Partridge (00:02:01):
Had you sort of always taken it for granted that you would go to college or a university?
Jean Walker (00:02:08):
I had hoped to. I hadn't taken a university for granted, owing to the fact that with four children I didn't think that we could all have university education. And, uh, therefore my sister and I settled for the two-year course at Mac Hall.
Florence Partridge (00:02:29):
So your sister, then, had... She was here overlapping one year with you?
Jean Walker (00:02:34):
One year, that's right.
Florence Partridge (00:02:37):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative). Did you room together?
Jean Walker (00:02:39):
No. We didn't, for the fact that I said to her, uh, that, "If I room with you and go with you all the time, and then my next year I won't have any friends probably."
Jean Walker (00:03:32):
And the fact that I didn't particularly want to be either a teacher or a nurse. Now, why? I can't tell you that, but I, I didn't, (laughing) so.
Florence Partridge (00:03:39):
Yes. So what did you really expect to get from your course?
Jean Walker (00:03:49):
I can't say that my expectations were very high. I think I got more than I expected, probably. Uh, I think that, um, going to Macdonald Hall, um, gave me a lot of confidence that I didn't have before, and, um, made it possible, um, to make some better decisions as I went along.
Florence Partridge (00:04:19):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). What was your first impression of the college? You had already visited your sister, so you had some idea of what it was like. But coming as a student yourself would have been rather different, I imagine.
Jean Walker (00:04:35):
Well, of course first we had to face initiation, and one of the rules was that we couldn't, um, be found in a senior's room during that period. And of course I was found in my sister's room. So the penalty was that I had to wear a very strange and large hat on my head and walk backwards up the dining room steps to the dining room (laughing). And I was very embarrassed.
Florence Partridge (00:05:08):
Yes. Now, the dining hall was Creelman, of course.
Jean Walker (00:05:13):
Florence Partridge (00:05:13):
Jean Walker (00:05:13):
Creelman, yes. Creelman Hall.
Florence Partridge (00:05:15):
And the men were eating there as well as the girls.
Jean Walker (00:05:18):
Yes, that's right. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Florence Partridge (00:05:21):
So you would have the stairs of the men as you walked up the steps.
Jean Walker (00:05:25):
Yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative). That's about as close as we could get to them in those days (laughing).
Florence Partridge (00:05:32):
Uh, how were they, uh, segregated in the dining hall?
Jean Walker (00:05:37):
Well, the men had all the tables on one side and the women all on another side, and you just simply didn't cross those borders (laughing).
Florence Partridge (00:05:46):
So the steps outside were the meeting place?
Jean Walker (00:05:49):
Well, that, and the fact that, uh, one of the best forms of recreation that we had was what we called the hops.
Florence Partridge (00:05:58):
Jean Walker (00:05:59):
Did you ever hear of the hops?
Florence Partridge (00:06:00):
Jean Walker (00:06:00):
(laughing) They were a dance in which some member volunteered to play the piano, and the boys were allowed to come over to Mac, and we danced after dinner for a short period of time. Mixed, and even talked to... amongst ourselves. That was, uh, probably one of the greatest pleasures, I think, socially that I had, because I was, um, uh, very shy at that time. And, um, I didn't, um, do a lot of the things that some of the rest did. I... one of my, um, saddest moments that I remember was going to a large dance and being asked, uh, to have a cigarette, and saying no.
Jean Walker (00:06:52):
And being asked to have a drink, and saying no, and being asked if I would like a glass of milk (laughing).
Florence Partridge (00:07:02):
Well, perhaps you were anticipating your career as a dietician, and you realized that milk might be [crosstalk]-
Jean Walker (00:07:13):
Might be good for you (laughing). I learned that later. And that, that night it didn't seem good at all.
Florence Partridge (00:07:18):
So these hops would be in the... um, what they called the common room in Mac Hall?
Jean Walker (00:07:23):
Yes, in Mac Hall. That's right.
Florence Partridge (00:07:25):
And how long would they last? About an hour after dinner?
Jean Walker (00:07:29):
I was trying to think, and I think probably an hour. It, it seemed shorter to me then. It seemed more like a half an hour, but maybe it was an hour. I think probably it would be. By the time we all assembled, it must have taken that length of time.
Florence Partridge (00:07:40):
Who was the house mother then?
Jean Walker (00:07:43):
The house mother was Mrs. Fuller, and Mrs. Fuller was the superintendent. She was much loved, and she was a wise and caring counselor. I think everyone liked Mrs. Fuller. She helped many people in their days of loneliness, or troubles, when they weren't getting along-
Jean Walker (00:09:17):
I really enjoyed that, and some of them certainly did not.
Florence Partridge (00:09:21):
Did you have a gym uniform?
Jean Walker (00:09:25):
We had, um, gym. Um, I, I can't remember what the gym looked like or anything, but I remember b-.. you know, in the good weather we had, uh, gym lessons outside because my, uh, sister, uh, who d-... was, uh, not, um, at all happy with that class, always tried to hide in the bushes (laughing). And got away with it pretty well. She was very small.
Florence Partridge (00:09:56):
I... the indoor gym, I think, was above the common room, wasn't it? O- on the second floor.
Jean Walker (00:10:03):
Well, you're probably right.
Jean Walker (00:10:05):
But I couldn't be positive of, of that.
Florence Partridge (00:10:09):
So, all right, you've arrived at Mac Hall. How did your... how did you choose your roommate?
Jean Walker (00:10:18):
Uh, in that first year, uh, I did not have any choice whatsoever. I was, um... uh, allotted a, a room i- in Watson Hall, and my roommate was also allotted that room. And it turned out, uh, to be Goldie McLauchlan from Owen Sound. And, um, we roomed together very happily for that first year.
Florence Partridge (00:10:47):
So you say you lived in Watson Hall, but you attended hops and this sort of thing in Mac Hall.
Jean Walker (00:10:56):
Florence Partridge (00:10:57):
Now, Watson Hall at that time I think was in what used to be the the Bursar's house, a stone house-
Jean Walker (00:11:08):
Florence Partridge (00:11:08):
... near Johnson Hall?
Jean Walker (00:11:10):
Florence Partridge (00:11:12):
And, there was a later Johns-... Uh, a later Watson-
Jean Walker (00:11:15):
Florence Partridge (00:11:15):
... Hall, then, which was the red brick building, uh, over to the... north? No, the east of Mac Hall.
Jean Walker (00:11:26):
Of Mac, yes.
Florence Partridge (00:11:26):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). But at... in 1930 in your day, uh, Watson Hall was the name assigned to the former Bursar's house.
Jean Walker (00:11:36):
Yes. It really, um, took the overflow, I think, that they had a few more people than they could place in Mac Hall, and, uh, we were the overflow. And of course we became very close living that way, much more so than the people in the larger residence, I think.
Florence Partridge (00:11:53):
How many of you would be in Watson at that-
Jean Walker (00:12:50):
... don't care very much, uh, about studying. And I really wanted to, um, do a little more work. I don't know whether I really did, but I thought I would (laughing).
Florence Partridge (00:13:04):
Now, can you remember... Uh, w- we've established that Mrs. Cruikshank was the principal. Who were some of your other professors at that time?
Jean Walker (00:13:13):
Well, Ms., um, Summerfield was our house mother at Watson Hall. And, um, she was, uh, a strictly-no-nonsense lady, but very fair and very helpful. I liked her very much. And then we had Dr. Annie Ross. Um, she was an instructor in home nursing and psychology. And, um, I remember her telling us that we could, uh, go to church or not, just as we pleased, but if we didn't go we would be the losers (laughing). That stuck in my head.
Jean Walker (00:13:56):
And we had Mrs., um, Doughty. Uh, sh-... I remember her telling us that she hoped that none of our sewing would be dropped in the road, because some horse would come along and trip on the stitches (laughing). So you can see we were great on the sewing.
Florence Partridge (00:14:14):
And what about cookery?
Jean Walker (00:14:18):
Florence Partridge (00:14:22):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Now in your cooking lab, um, what equipment did you have? Did you, you... did you have a, a full-size stove, or did you have, like, a little single burner? Or what, uh, what sort of equipment had you?
Jean Walker (00:14:41):
We had a full-size stove but we also had, I believe, a, uh, burner between two people. Uh, I worked with, um, Helen Kerbin.
Florence Partridge (00:14:54):
Jean Walker (00:14:55):
Our na-... our initials being the same, because her name was Walsh before she was married. And of course we kept up our friendship all through the years, and she lived in Guelph and I came back to Guelph. Um, we did almost all of our work in pairs, in laundry and in cooking and, uh, in chemistry and so forth.
Florence Partridge (00:15:20):
Um, so you would be cooking in s-... very small quantities, then?
Florence Partridge (00:15:28):
Did you have any experience at all with quantity cookery?
Jean Walker (00:15:33):
No. That was probably, uh, one of the poorer points. We didn't have anything, uh, in quantity cookery or in quantity buying. I've found that, uh, that made life a little difficult when you got out into the real world.
Florence Partridge (00:15:51):
In your sewing lab, you already were fairly proficient. So you probably found this, uh, an easy class.
Jean Walker (00:16:02):
Yes, I r-... I really did. But I enjoyed because I, I... even to this day I like sewing. And when we came to our final year, we all had to make our dresses for graduation, so that took quite an effort (laughs).
Florence Partridge (00:16:17):
Can you tell me what your graduation dress was like?
Jean Walker (00:16:22):
Not specifically. Of course, they all had to be white, and I know it was fitted with a full skirt. But I can't remember anything else. I think it had a square neck.
Florence Partridge (00:16:33):
Were skirts long or short at that time?
Jean Walker (00:16:35):
They were sort of medium. Um-
Florence Partridge (00:16:37):
You had some time in what was known as the apartment. Can you describe that to us?
Jean Walker (00:16:44):
I can, uh, describe the fact that it was, um, a very, uh, frightening experience. Uh, we were all terrified before our days came that we had to spend in the apartment. We looked after the upkeep of the apartment, such as the cleaning.
Florence Partridge (00:17:03):
Who- whose apartment was it?
Jean Walker (00:17:04):
Oh, Mrs. Cruikshank's apartment. And we looked after the cleaning, and we planned the menu, and we ordered the food and we cooked the food and we served the food. And I tell you, by the end of the day we collapsed (laughing), mostly from nerves.
Florence Partridge (00:17:21):
Now, did you do all of these things at one time, or did you have one week doing one thing and one week doing another?
Jean Walker (00:17:29):
No, we did them all at one time.
Jean Walker (00:17:31):
Over I think a period of three days.
Florence Partridge (00:17:34):
Jean Walker (00:17:34):
I'm not positive of that, but I think it was three days that we spent.
Florence Partridge (00:17:42):
And was Mrs. Cruikshank the only person who was fed at your table (laughs)?
Jean Walker (00:17:48):
No. Um, uh, let me see. I guess there were two of us w- working at a time, so one did the serving and the other one sat at the table. But she very often had a guest, as well.
Florence Partridge (00:18:04):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And that was a, a stressful time?
Jean Walker (00:18:10):
It was a stressful time. But, you know, looking back on it, I think that probably it was for Mrs. Cruikshank. You don't think of those that at that time (laughing), but it couldn't have been easy having two different people every little while.
Florence Partridge (00:18:25):
And constantly having to be judging what was happening.
Jean Walker (00:18:29):
Florence Partridge (00:18:31):
I certainly wouldn't like to be, um, judging every meal I ate, every bit of food I ate (laughing).
Jean Walker (00:18:39):
It would spoil it entirely, wouldn't it? It would be very hard.
Florence Partridge (00:18:43):
Yes. Now, can you describe a typical day? You'd get up in the morning, go to the dining hall for breakfast?
Jean Walker (00:18:56):
Go to the dining hall, and-
Florence Partridge (00:18:58):
That must have been a bit of a drag, having to g- get out before breakfast.
Jean Walker (00:19:03):
Oh, we were really young then. We didn't whine (laughing). No, that w-... that was nothing. I can remember sometimes the wind up on the, on the hill there, and it being bitterly cold going to classes when you had farther to go. But just to go to the dining hall, no, that one didn't seem to bother us much.
Florence Partridge (00:19:21):
So then, after breakfast?
Jean Walker (00:19:24):
Lectures, and they might be in any different building depending upon what the lectures were.
Florence Partridge (00:19:32):
Did you have lectures and labs interspersed, or would you have labs in the morning and lectures in the afternoon, or the other way around? Or-
Jean Walker (00:19:44):
Frankly, I really can't tell you that (laughing). Like, it's too many years ago. Uh, they may have been interspersed, I think, with the-
Florence Partridge (00:19:55):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And your academic program included cookery and sewing. Home nursing you've mentioned.
Jean Walker (00:20:07):
Yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Florence Partridge (00:20:10):
Jean Walker (00:20:11):
Psychology, to some extent.
Jean Walker (00:20:13):
Not a great extent. And then-
Florence Partridge (00:20:16):
Jean Walker (00:20:19):
Florence Partridge (00:20:21):
Jean Walker (00:20:22):
Florence Partridge (00:20:24):
Your chemistry classes would be in the OAC?
Jean Walker (00:20:28):
Yes, they were.
Florence Partridge (00:20:29):
Jean Walker (00:20:30):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Florence Partridge (00:20:35):
What about extracurricular activities? You've mentioned the hops. Uh, what other sort of things? Wiener roasts, corn roasts?
Jean Walker (00:20:51):
Occasionally. There was not too much extracurricular. Um, actually we could not be out very late at night. I was trying to think, uh, if I could remember for sure the times, the time. I think 10 o'clock was our time, and one night a week till 11:00. And, um, that didn't... after you had, um, done your homework and then-
Jean Walker (00:21:19):
... had your dinner, it didn't, it didn't leave you a very great deal of time. Also, since you were not allowed to enter a car you, uh, were curtailed to where you could go and what you could do. And, um-
Jean Walker (00:21:34):
Mostly our fun was amongst our friends, the girlfriends that we had. Some of them played bridge and, uh, other games, and um, mostly we just all collected in somebody's room and talked.
Florence Partridge (00:21:49):
Jean Walker (00:21:50):
Yes, (laughing) I'm afraid we did, because it... always the, uh, juniors put on weight.
Florence Partridge (00:22:00):
What about, uh, College Royal? Did you participate in that?
Jean Walker (00:22:06):
No, I don't recall anything at all about College Royal. Do you think it went on at that time?
Florence Partridge (00:22:13):
It was started in '26, so I think it must have been [crosstalk].
Jean Walker (00:22:16):
Yes, in '29 it would have to be.
Florence Partridge (00:22:19):
But perhaps it was mostly among the male students at that time.
Jean Walker (00:22:23):
I think probably so. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Florence Partridge (00:22:24):
Jean Walker (00:22:27):
Oh, yes. Conversat was the big dance of the year-
Florence Partridge (00:22:31):
Jean Walker (00:22:31):
... which everybody looked forward to.
Florence Partridge (00:22:31):
And it was not held in Mac Hall, was it?
Jean Walker (00:22:31):
Florence Partridge (00:22:31):
Where was it? S-... in, in Creelman Hall?
Jean Walker (00:22:31):
(laughs) Probably so.
Florence Partridge (00:22:32):
Can you remember the particular Conversats of, of your years? Can you remember what the theme was, or what the decoration was?
Jean Walker (00:22:34):
No, I really can't.
Florence Partridge (00:22:34):
You can just remember having a good time?
Jean Walker (00:22:34):
I can just remember that it was something we looked forward to, and, and had really a lot of fun. I presume there was a theme. Maybe there never was, I don't know (laughing).
Florence Partridge (00:23:23):
Were there any, uh, particularly interesting events particular to your years? Any, um, royal visitors to the college, or anything of that kind? Or-
Jean Walker (00:23:40):
Not to my knowledge, no. I don't think so.
Florence Partridge (00:23:50):
Can you remember any pranks, either that you participated in, that your roommates or friends participated in, or that you were subjected to?
Jean Walker (00:24:05):
(laughing) I remember a number of occasions when the girls, um, wanted to go out, and weren't allowed out. And, uh, or at that hour they weren't allowed out, and they would get out the window and they would come back in the window the same way. And of course, eventually they would get caught. And then when they were caught they were what we called campused, which meant you couldn't leave the campus, and they would be campused maybe for two weeks or maybe longer and they couldn't go off the ground in that time.
Florence Partridge (00:24:45):
Well, now, if a person was living in a room on the third floor-
Jean Walker (00:24:51):
That would be difficult.
Florence Partridge (00:24:52):
They couldn't go in and out of their own window.
Jean Walker (00:24:53):
Florence Partridge (00:24:53):
So how did they manage?
Jean Walker (00:24:55):
Well, they had to talk somebody who was on the first floor into letting them use their window (laughing). And then, well, of course they were implicated, and they were campused also. So that was a little tricky.
Florence Partridge (00:25:05):
I see. Now, was the, um... was this, um, punishment administered by a students' council, or by, uh, the house mother? Or-
Jean Walker (00:25:23):
But it, it was, uh, pretty a standard rule. You knew perfectly well what it was going to be, uh, if you got caught. So you just were taking your chances, and many people took their chances, I must say (laughing). And then the... a few of them even took the chances of going away for a weekend, which was definitely not allowed. And, uh, they got into worse trouble.
Florence Partridge (00:25:47):
Uh, surely you were allowed to go if you had your parents' permission?
Jean Walker (00:25:52):
Yes, but it would have to be in writing.
Florence Partridge (00:25:54):
Yes. Now, can you remember the occasion of your graduation?
Jean Walker (00:26:03):
I can remember my sister's graduation almost better than my own. I was absolutely thrilled by her, uh, graduation. It was, uh, the first one for me to, uh, witness, and, uh, I was thrilled for her. And the red roses that they were all carrying, and how nice it looked, and then how we gathered daisy from the... daisies from what now I guess is the golf course and, um, uh, decorated with these daisies. We had thousands of them.
Florence Partridge (00:26:34):
You, you made a daisy chain?
Jean Walker (00:26:36):
We made daisy chains, and we also had great bunches of them together and we, we decorated with those. And we, uh, were very much involved with it. When it came to my own, uh, it was, um, more of a letdown. I, I knew what was coming, and, uh, maybe I didn't really want to, to, uh, finish. Maybe I wanted to keep on going (laughing). But, um, it, it still was a great occasion. And your p-... your parents, your brothers and sisters came, and everybody was proud of you for once.
Florence Partridge (00:27:15):
I suppose you were more the center of attraction, then, in, in your first year, when you were... it was your sister, you were watching, and, and you could enjoy it more.
Jean Walker (00:27:26):
That's really true, I think.
Jean Walker (00:28:09):
She never played for any of the hops, or anything like that.
Florence Partridge (00:28:12):
Jean Walker (00:28:12):
Florence Partridge (00:28:13):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think you mentioned that your roommate from your junior year, that you kept in touch, uh, through the years. So you did form some lasting friendships?
Jean Walker (00:28:32):
Oh, definitely so. And even, uh, now, uh, the people in my year that are still living, I, uh, keep up with. And, but a good many of them have passed on. But, um, we've always kept close together, and certainly the people that were in Watson Hall, uh, became closer. And the, um, person that I lived with for many years, Nettie Thompson, had also been in Watson Hall. And, uh, Marie Bryant, who took a great interest in our year. We have kept in touch all the time. And, um, Isabel Lockerbie, who did so much for, um, diabetes, and, uh, on the diabetic diets. We kept in touch with her, and Ruth Sinclair, and, um, Helen McKercher, and... um, a, a lot of them.
Florence Partridge (00:29:40):
These were all 1930?
Jean Walker (00:29:43):
Mm-hmm (affirmative), they were. I got a connection with Olive Wallace fr-... in... a- at two dif-... two or three different times. She was in the normal class, uh, at the time that, uh, I was in the associate class. And, um, then-
Florence Partridge (00:30:02):
But could you just explain the difference between the normal class and the associate?
Jean Walker (00:30:05):
So the, the normals were going to go on and teach.
Florence Partridge (00:30:09):
I see. It-
Jean Walker (00:30:09):
Florence Partridge (00:30:09):
It meant... it didn't mean normal in-
Jean Walker (00:30:12):
Florence Partridge (00:30:13):
Jean Walker (00:30:13):
(laughing) No. In that sense, no. They were going to become teachers in that.
Jean Walker (00:30:17):
And, uh... When I went to Toronto, uh, to work, I lived at Sherbourne House, and at that time Ms., uh, Wallace was there also. She wasn't in charge... the, the first, uh, of the time that I was there, but was a little bit later on. But she was working as a dietician there, and then when I came to Guelph of course she was at the university and she was, uh, one of the first people that I went to see because I was looking-
Jean Walker (00:30:48):
... for an apartment and wanted some... a little bit of advice. So I saw her then at numerous times in Guelph.
Florence Partridge (00:30:54):
Uh, what was Sherbourne House?
Jean Walker (00:30:57):
Sherbourne House, uh, was a beautiful old home that had been donated by the Fudgers, uh, for the girls who worked in Simpsons, and 75% of the people in there had to be girls that worked in Simpsons and the other 25 could be the rest of us. And I happened to get in that other 25.
Florence Partridge (00:31:19):
And where was it located?
Jean Walker (00:31:21):
On Sherbourne Street, just north of Carlton.
Florence Partridge (00:31:24):
Jean Walker (00:31:24):
A very, uh, poor district, as we all think of it. And we used to, uh, laugh and say that if we walked from the streetcar stop at Carlton Street up to the Sherbourne House and nobody, uh, stopped us that we were over the hill (laughing).
Florence Partridge (00:31:45):
Was, uh, was your first employment in Toronto?
Jean Walker (00:31:48):
No, my first employment was in Niagara Falls at the Niagara Falls General Hospital, and I worked there as a dietician for four years.
Florence Partridge (00:31:59):
What were the duties of a dietician in those days?
Jean Walker (00:32:04):
Um, well, they were, uh, h- having to purchase the food, and make up the menus. Or in the other order, make the menus and purchase the food. Uh, and then supervise the cooking. Teach the, uh, nurses, teach them also in the diet kitchen, uh, about the diets, and to take care of all special diets. And visiting the patients, making sure that they were happy with the food. In those days a private patient had to pay all of $5 for their room, uh, per day, and, uh, at that atrocious price they really required good food. You had to keep them happy. We had to be responsible for all the supplies. I can remember setting up, um, a place in the basement where all supplies could be kept under lock and key, and only the cook and myself would have access to them. And, um, that saved us a great deal of loss which they were having at one time.
Florence Partridge (00:33:22):
Would the Niagara Falls hospital be a fairly large one, do you remember?
Jean Walker (00:33:27):
Florence Partridge (00:33:27):
Would you know how many beds it had?
Jean Walker (00:33:28):
It had 80 beds at that time.
Florence Partridge (00:33:30):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And your, um, staff in the kitchens was yourself and-
Jean Walker (00:33:40):
Uh, a very efficient cook, whom I owed a great deal to. She was really wonderful. And then, uh a number of people who, um, worked on vegetables and washing-
Jean Walker (00:33:54):
And washing up and so forth. There were probably half a dozen people in the kitchen. The trays were all served from the diet kitchen, and as a dietician you were in charge of that and in charge of the... seeing that, uh, all the special food for the special diets was cooked in the diet kitchen too.
Florence Partridge (00:34:18):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). You said that you worked in Niagara Falls for four years. You didn't continue then with hospital work?
Jean Walker (00:34:30):
Well, the hospital work didn't provide the challenge that I needed. I have a, a competitive spirit, and it didn't provide that challenge for me. So in 1934 I went to Toronto, only to find that in the Depression dieticians were superfluous. And as my-
Jean Walker (00:34:52):
... finances dwindled, I decided I'd have to take any available job. And I applied at the Women's Bakery as a salesgirl and presented my credentials. I remember, uh, the, uh, woman and her hus-... and her brother, who owned it, saying to me, "Well, uh, just because you were a good dietician doesn't say that you'll be a good salesgirl." And I said, "No, but I could try (laughs)."
Florence Partridge (00:35:24):
What, what was the Women's Bakery?
Jean Walker (00:35:26):
The Women's Bakery? It was at that time a chain of eight bakery stores that were owned by this, uh, Mrs. Egan Emmister Link.
Florence Partridge (00:35:37):
The s-... the stores were all in Toronto?
Jean Walker (00:35:40):
They were all in Toronto. Mm-hmm (affirmative). And anyway, uh, she also told me that I would probably never make as much money again as I had made at the hospital. I had been making $85 a month, plus my room and board. So I would be in a bad spot if I had never gotten past that, wouldn't I (laughing)? Um, anyways, she decided to give me a try and, uh, put me in a store. And I found immediately that I really liked that. That was a, a... it was a challenge. Um, I, uh, was interested in seeing how much they had taken in the week before, and if I could beat it the next week, or how much they had taken in on that day, uh, a, a week before, and if we could beat it that-
Jean Walker (00:36:35):
... day, and so forth. And I was interested in the displays, and whether you could sell more by changing your displays, and so forth. So, um, I got along very well, and, um, shortly she put me in charge of a store. And-
Florence Partridge (00:36:56):
T- to begin with as a salesperson, you were working with someone else?
Florence Partridge (00:37:03):
But you had some leeway to, uh, change displays and do things of that kind?
Jean Walker (00:37:09):
Yes. Uh, m- most of the people didn't care anything about that. That was just to get the day's work done, and so they didn't care if I wanted to do those things as long as I did them. And, uh, since I enjoyed doing it, why, I went ahead and did it.
Florence Partridge (00:37:23):
Now, was... were all the products made in one kitchen and taken out to the branches?
Jean Walker (00:37:31):
That's right, they were. Delivered from one bakery, which was at College and Bathurst Street in those days.
Florence Partridge (00:37:40):
So now you're in charge of a store.
Jean Walker (00:37:42):
Uh, and then I was in charge of a store. Um, the next thing that came up was a new store opening, that they were opening on the Danforth, and they asked me if I would like to open that store. Which meant ordering all the supplies that were needed for that store, making all... having all the price tickets ready, and, um-
Florence Partridge (00:38:04):
Now, when you say supplies, do you mean furnishings?
Jean Walker (00:38:08):
No, not the furnishings. I d-... wouldn't have anything to do with that.
Jean Walker (00:38:22):
All that type of thing had to be ordered ahead of time, and everything lined up and a, a price list, uh, ready so that you would be sure that everybody... you'd have to have extra help that day and they might not know the prices too well. So, um, having done that then I managed that store for a while until it got going. And, um, after that I was, um, sent to a store on Addington Avenue that was not doing very well and, uh, that they were worried about. And they gave me the job of t- trying to cut the returns, uh, which means the things that were left over at night and that cut into your profit. And, um, of, um, increasing sales. And I was able to do that and, um, so I stayed there until I had that store on its feet. And then of course another one came up-
Jean Walker (00:39:23):
... and I did that for a little while.
Florence Partridge (00:39:25):
Now, you've mentioned things that were left over. Uh, this was during Depression time. Did the leftovers go to a soup kitchen, or-
Jean Walker (00:39:34):
Florence Partridge (00:39:34):
... a food bank or anything of that kind?
Jean Walker (00:39:37):
A certain number of them, uh, if we didn't have too many, were kept a- and had a special place at the back of the store, on which we had a sign which said, "Fresh yesterday, half price today." And people got to know about that. It was fairly popular in those days, so that you could sell the things at half price. But if you had too much in returns, it cut down too much on your profit. If you didn't have enough in returns, that meant that you weren't ordering sufficient, that you were being sold out too early and you were losing profit.
Florence Partridge (00:40:11):
Jean Walker (00:40:12):
So it was a case of balancing-
Jean Walker (00:40:23):
Um, and after doing that for a while, um, I was appointed as a supervisor and I went around amongst the stores. And even though it was Depression days, uh, they were making money and they were opening stores, so that we were continually opening, um, new stores and, um, there was plenty to do, a- as a supervisor, and also taking care of the openings.
Florence Partridge (00:40:52):
You- you were supervising sales, you were not supervising the produc-... production of the food?
Jean Walker (00:40:59):
No, I didn't, uh, at that point.
Jean Walker (00:41:02):
Uh, I never really supervised production, but as time went on I did have a lot to do with the bakery, and i-... uh, in deciding what would be made and on what days it would be made, and what quantities would be made. And in designing an order, uh, sheet so that we didn't make the same things every day and it became monotonous, and so forth. And I also worked with the bakery on thinking up new things that we could try, and, and having special, um, cakes for special occasions besides birthday cakes, but things for Mother's Day and Easter and so forth.
Jean Walker (00:41:49):
We, uh... uh, they kept buying out smaller chains and, um, eventually Women's Bakery and Hunt's, became one under Canadian Food Products. And that practically doubled the stores that we had, right there.
Florence Partridge (00:42:10):
Hunt's had been a restaurant? Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jean Walker (00:42:13):
Florence Partridge (00:42:13):
And it was-
Jean Walker (00:42:14):
Florence Partridge (00:42:15):
And it was located?
Jean Walker (00:42:17):
Hunt's had, um, some 40-odd stores. By that time we did, too, have some 40-odd t-... stores. They were located on all the best corners in the city of Toronto, I always said (laughing). And, um, so that made a great, uh, workload.
Florence Partridge (00:42:36):
Now, i- it was a matter of them, uh, getting together. N- neither one bought out the other?
Jean Walker (00:42:48):
Canadian Food Products bought out, out both.
Florence Partridge (00:42:51):
Jean Walker (00:42:53):
Florence Partridge (00:42:54):
W- was Canadian Food Products already an established institution?
Jean Walker (00:43:00):
Yes. They had Honeydew and, um, I... Let me see. Did they have... I think they had something to do with catering, too-
Jean Walker (00:43:25):
So, um, that meant... the fact that the supervisors that they had at Hunt's, uh, I had to be supervising them. They didn't take at all kindly to the idea at first. It was, uh, a problem, because they resented having someone from the other side taking over. So I just had to keep working away at it, till I finally got them won over and, and we could work together and make a good team.
Florence Partridge (00:44:01):
Now, we- were the kitchens still, uh, operated by the, uh, people who had originally started your business? Or was that taken over by the, um, foods company?
Jean Walker (00:44:20):
There were, there were several moods... moves in there. Um, uh, the first one was that, uh, when Women's Bakery was taken over by E.P. Taylor, there was really too many to go into all the detail, I think. But, uh, that, and we moved into a bakery that, um, belonged to Barker's. Barker's made biscuits, and, uh, that was all, um, done over so that it w- was suitable for a bakery. But then it was not big enough when we came to amalgamate with Hunt's and, uh, the Hunt's bakery had to be made larger. It was on Walker Avenue, on a very valuable piece of property in Toronto, and, um, they owned all the houses practically in that block, and, as well as the bakery. And eventually it was our downfall because ,uh, someone who wanted just the property and really didn't want the bakery bought it from Canadian Food Products and it, it is now, um, townhouses completely and the bakery disappeared.
Florence Partridge (00:45:45):
W- was the Women's Bakery at some time connected with Dominion Stores?
Jean Walker (00:45:52):
Uh, yes. The Women's, uh, Bakery had counters in Dominion Stores, and, uh, when I say that, it was a s-... like a separate store setup, a whole counter setup, uh, with [crosstalk]-
Florence Partridge (00:46:05):
And so it had a franchise in the store?
Jean Walker (00:46:39):
I supervised the Loblaws, and I supervised all the stores. And I did a lot of driving, because it went from Niagara Falls to Oshawa and, um, we had I guess something like 600 employees in all. It was, uh... became quite a, a big operation, and certainly interesting. I always said I never needed to change my job because it changed so much for me. (laughing) Even, even the managers changed, so-
Jean Walker (00:47:10):
... I was... it was always changing around me.
Florence Partridge (00:47:13):
But you were n- never at any stage involved in the production of the food?
Jean Walker (00:47:20):
Not except to say, uh-
Florence Partridge (00:47:22):
To say what would be done?
Jean Walker (00:47:23):
"We don't want this."
Florence Partridge (00:47:24):
Jean Walker (00:47:24):
Or, "We do want that." And, and, uh, "Such-and-such will sell, and this won't sell." That part of it. I had, um... uh, I chaired a meeting once a week of all the department heads from the shipping and the bakery and the s- s- stores, so that, um... the other supervisors of the stores, uh, so that we could air our grievances-
Jean Walker (00:47:49):
... or, um, put in our comments. And I also, uh, issued a, a bulletin once a week, uh, to all the stores, um, giving them the outline of what would, uh, take place the following week, and what they were to feature, and, and of what advertising they were to use and so forth. And I designed the advertising-
Florence Partridge (00:48:21):
Did you, um... you, you mentioned that you might suggest new products. Uh, would, would you suggest a new recipe which would then go to a test kitchen? Or would you just say, um, "Let's make a different kind of cakes and, and, uh, [crosstalk]"?
Jean Walker (00:48:39):
M- more the, more the latter.
Jean Walker (00:48:47):
Uh, s-... uh, sometimes it would be something that I had seen. I also went... um, I traveled a fair amount. I went to New York and I went to Philadelphia, I went to Chicago, I went to Detroit, I went to Atlantic City, and, uh, I got ideas from their bakeries and I came back with them.
Jean Walker (00:49:05):
And with samples. They were very good at, at letting me do that, and that, uh, was, was a help. They would, could make things from that. Or you might, um, just come up with an idea of something that you wanted yourself, and you'd talk it over with them, and sometimes they wouldn't, uh, go for it at all. It was too difficult to do, and then you'd have to give that one up. And, uh, just whenever you could think of something new and different.
Florence Partridge (00:49:38):
A constant challenge.
Jean Walker (00:49:39):
Yes, a constant challenge. Just try and do that, and also with wedding cakes. Uh, wedding cakes have changed a lot from the days when they were very square and very plain.
Jean Walker (00:49:50):
And now they're quite fancy, and, uh-
Florence Partridge (00:49:52):
And hollow (laughing).
Jean Walker (00:49:53):
... they may be colorful now. Yes. And, uh, you had to keep up with the times. And the same with birthday cakes, you had to have a book in every store showing the pictures of, uh, what they could order and what price they were, and that changed and you had to keep the books up to scratch and, um, keep them clean. That was another problem, they got sticky (laughing).
Florence Partridge (00:50:21):
So, was this then your, um, uh, your profession for y-... all of your working life?
Jean Walker (00:50:31):
Yes. For 29 years I did that, and I must say I enjoyed it immensely. I made a lot of friends, and, uh, I still keep in touch with a lot of the people in, uh, Toronto that way. A- again, a lot of them have been lost in the last few years. But, um, then at the... after the 29 years, my, um, parents were both 85 years of age and living in a big house that they could no longer handle by themselves, and so I gave up my job and went home. And, uh, since my mother lived to be 93 I was-
Jean Walker (00:51:35):
Just till I was 65. That was the end of it.
Florence Partridge (00:51:39):
I see. Uh, what about the, um, Home Economics Association or the Canadian Dietetic Association? Did you belong to either one of those organizations?
Jean Walker (00:51:52):
No, I think not. I think not.
Florence Partridge (00:51:57):
W- were they perhaps, uh, more active in, uh, hospital dietetics than-
Jean Walker (00:52:03):
Oh, definitely. As a matter of fact, uh, n-... uh, I think the feeling was very much against anybody that had taken the course in, in changing the way I did. I, I got that feeling that, uh, they thought that was a, a misuse of your course. But, uh, I don't think so. I think I got a lot out of the course, that I would never have been able to handle, uh, what I did. I wouldn't have been able to work with all those people if I hadn't had that course, either. So, um-
Florence Partridge (00:52:37):
So you felt that your, your studies at Mac gave you self-confidence?
Jean Walker (00:52:45):
Gave me the grounding-
Florence Partridge (00:52:46):
Jean Walker (00:52:47):
... to be able to do the other things. Although they weren't specific, uh, it, it was something that you found out that if, uh, somebody could do it you could do it.
Florence Partridge (00:53:00):
But you had no courses in economics or in marketing?
Jean Walker (00:53:05):
Florence Partridge (00:53:06):
Or any of these things-
Jean Walker (00:53:07):
Florence Partridge (00:53:07):
... which were very important in your work later.
Jean Walker (00:53:12):
Well, I was always interested in economics. I think probably that's what it... I should have gone into in the very, very beginning. And I, uh, can remember reading the Financial Post from the time I was probably in my 20s, when nobody else read the Financial Post, (laughing) just because I was interested in it. And, um, so I've always been interested in that. And then I had to, uh, be interested in, uh, finances because of, uh, having to keep wage costs at a certain percentage of sales in every store, and returns at a certain percentage of sales. They all had to be... that had to be done, and I had to do a certain amount of pricing of goods.
Florence Partridge (00:53:59):
Who dictated this to you? Who, who told you you must have your sales at a certain percentage of, of your total, uh, profits and so on?
Jean Walker (00:54:11):
Uh, they were... yeah, once a week, uh, the sales and the, the wages and the returns were all presented to me on a sheet and, um, between myself and the people who actually did the office work on this, um, we figured out that... where would be a break-even point, if we had spent a certain amount on wages and if we had lost a certain amount on returns, and where it had to be. And from that you, uh, took the sales, and they might be crying for more help, but if it... if, uh, they didn't warrant it, you just had to show them that they had to go above that in order to get any more help. And, uh, it worked-
Florence Partridge (00:55:08):
Now, are there any comments that you would like to make about, uh, your time at Mac? Is there anything that we haven't covered that, that you would like to talk about?
Jean Walker (00:55:18):
I think invested like to go back and refresh mys- myself (laughing). I think it'd be fun. It would be so different.
Florence Partridge (00:55:25):
It would be very different.
Jean Walker (00:55:26):
I would really like to, yes. I think, too, I would appreciate it more. Uh, I th-... I don't think that I had, uh, a great appreciation for it at the time, but I would appreciate it a lot more now. I could make better use of it.
Florence Partridge (00:55:47):
Is that something that you think the, um, alumni might, um, think about, talk about, discuss with the, um, faculty? The possibility of refresher courses?
Jean Walker (00:56:02):
Nice idea, isn't it? I think it is a nice idea. I think that the... um, having a four-year course is much more beneficial. Two years is certainly not long enough to learn all that you need to know to be a dietician-
Jean Walker (00:56:19):
... by any chance. It's, it's just not long enough. But that's what it was in those days and that's, uh, what I was able to afford. So, anyway, it, uh, it served its purpose. It did a lot. I've-
Florence Partridge (00:56:32):
Jean Walker (00:56:33):
... never been sorry.
Florence Partridge (00:56:34):
... some people were taking a four-year course at the University of Toronto.
Jean Walker (00:56:39):
Florence Partridge (00:56:40):
And then going on into dietetics. Um, from your experience of meeting any of them, did you feel that they had a better grounding than you had at Mac?
Jean Walker (00:56:55):
Oh, well, yes, because of the length of time. Not, not necessarily otherwise, but they had double time. You, well, must get a better grounding in it. And I think too that, um, they had a chance of getting a better position by a long shot.
Jean Walker (00:57:13):
Because I just kind of fell into my position and, uh, I don't know what... although my sister who took it was a dietician at the, um... Hmm. Buffalo Deaconess Hospital for many years, and that was a good position.
Jean Walker (00:57:31):
I guess it depends upon yourself.
Florence Partridge (00:57:37):
Now, you said that you have kept in touch with people. Uh, have you, um, done that at all through the alumni association, through their publication, uh, which, uh, has a little bit of news about various classes?
Jean Walker (00:57:56):
Florence Partridge (00:57:57):
It's n- necessarily very limited. And th- through, um, um, alumni days when you would come back for reunions?
Jean Walker (00:58:06):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Through all of those, to some extent.
Jean Walker (00:58:16):
But, uh, that's just natural. There won't be that many more to come.
Florence Partridge (00:58:23):
Yes. So you've... you do feel that, although perhaps it would not be your choice now, that Mac Institute served you well?
Jean Walker (00:58:36):
I do. I definitely do. I have... I d-... I don't, uh, know that I would have done any better, e- even if I had, uh, gone, say, into economics. I would certainly have had to have a longer course.
Jean Walker (00:58:52):
And it, it wasn't available, so it's not worth thinking about, I guess (laughing).
Florence Partridge (00:58:58):
So, that's, um... You, you have no other comments that you want to make about your employment, either? About your professional life?
Jean Walker (00:59:10):
Just that I enjoyed it. I, I, I look back on my life and, and I'm, I'm very pleased with it. And, uh, that, um, some people might wonder why, because I haven't done all the standard things. But the years that I, uh, spent at Mac, the years that I worked, uh, at the hospital, the years that I worked at the bakery, I enjoyed every one of them. I made very good friends, and, um, I c- certainly enjoyed the years that I spent with my parents. I would do it again at any time.
Florence Partridge (00:59:41):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, that's very interesting. Thank you very much, Jean, for this time that you've given us, and for this interview.
Jean Walker (00:59:48):
You're welcome. I hope it's somewhat helpful (laughs).
Florence Partridge (00:59:51):
I'm sure it will be. This interview with Jean Walker, Mac '30, has been recorded by Florence Partridge on March the 4th, 1993, for the Alumni in Action group of the University of Guelph Alumni Association.