Irene Campbell
First name Irene
Last name Campbell
Age 67
Date of birth April 20, 1913
Community Oakland, Scotland

Mrs. Campbell in 1973


This interview is a part of the Chronicles of Oakland Township, which was compiled in the summer of 1980. Click here to read more interviews in this collection!

This is Jane Shaver interviewing Mrs. Irene Campbell at the Scotland Public Library, July 11, 1980.

Jane: Could you tell us when and where you were born?

Mrs. Campbell: I was born in Brantford 1913, April 20th, the same day as Hitler (laughter) but not the same year.

Jane: Would you be able to tell us anything about the events of your birth that maybe your parents told you, anything special that happened?

Mrs. Campbell: No, nothing, I don't remember.

Jane: Could you tell us a bit about your family? What were your mother and father's names?

Mrs. Campbell: It was George Schunk and Annie Holm Schunk.

Jane: Did you have any brothers or sisters?

Mrs. Campbell: I have a younger brother and an older half brother.

Jane: Where are they living now?

Mrs. Campbell: The half brother's deceased and my brother is in Napanee.

Jane: Where did you go to school?

Mrs. Campbell: Well, I went for a couple short times here in Scotland but I never really got started till we went to Boston. I got my education in Boston, Ontario. (laughs)

Jane: What was the school like?

Mrs. Campbell: A one-room school and the year that I tried my entrance there were 65 pupils and one teacher.

Jane: WHAT was it like going to school there?

Mrs. Campbell: Well I didn't know much different so I guess it was

alright. We had a very strict teacher but a very good teacher. He put five of us through two years like what could be seven and eight today in one year.

Jane: How far did you have to walk to go to school?

Mrs. Campbell: One mile and a half.

Jane: Were there any special events that they did on holidays?

Mrs. Campbell: I think about the only thing was the Arbour Day which was quite an event in those days. Also, the school took part in the fall fairs. The schools in our area competed with the... You had to march and made a formation and then you had a school song. Boston competed more like with several schools and the winner from there went to Simcoe and uh, the winners got a shield. Well Boston had the shield for several years which was something. The Marching Through Georgia and Onward Christian Soldiers, One was what we marched to and the other was what thw school song was to. (laughs) One thing, that kids today don't know anything about [was that] a one-room school of course was heated with a furnace which didn't work too well on cold days. Our teacher, he would warm us up by-playing his violin and having us march around the room. (laughter)

Jane: What does your father do?

Mrs. Campbell: He was a hired man for farmers. In those days most farmers had married hired men. Earlier in life he had his own farm but he lost it and through my years he had worked as a hired man.

Jane: What kind of toys did you play with?

Mrs. Campbell: Dolls mostly. I still have most of my set of dishes that I got in 1919.

Jane: What were they like?

Mrs. Campbell: Jell you know, that was before Donald Duck's time and yet on one side was a plain goose and then on the other side was a dressed up goose (a little laughter) They're I think fairly valuable today.

Jane: Was there a place to go swimming?

Mrs. Campbell: No, not around here. We had Boston crick which today is just a trickle we used to back there and puddle around but it was just a mudhole. But no, there was no swimming as such for country kids.

Jane: Were there any clubs or organizations to belong to when you were a young person?

Mrs. Campbell: Well other than Sunday school we had mission bands and then I was old enough to be allowed to go, when I was about sixteen there was Young Peoples. I belonged to Young Peoples in Waterford.

Jane: What kind of things did you do at the Young Peoples' meetings?

Mrs. Campbell: Well it was mostly every topic and the devotions and after games. I remember one time we had to entertain another group and we had children's kitty cars and they held a ball game with the kitty cars which was kind of awkward.

Jane: Which church did you belong to?

Mrs. Campbell: Well as I grew up I attended Boston Baptist Church. It was horse and buggy days so regardless of whatever your leaning was you usually went to the nearest church.

Jane: What kind of organizations were there in the church?

Mrs. Campbell: Well as far as I know there was just the Sunday school and church and they had a mission circle.

Jane: Were there any special events that the church was involved in?

Mrs. Campbell: Well we weren't too involved other than Sunday school but I do remember one time they had a missionary there and the school kids were asked over. This lady must have been from India because they were going to give us a meal which was as I remember just this plain boiled rice and no one else was there. (laughter) One thing that was an event every year was garden parties. You girls ever been to a garden party?

Jane: No, never been to one.

Mrs. Campbell: Well two years ago Mt. Pleasant had an old fashion one. They should have advertised it more because it was really interesting and they were the main event. Oakland always had a garden party on the 24th of May and Scotland used to have one I don't know what time of year but through the summer and Northfield used to have one. I can remember being to several in my younger years. The Christmas concert was a big thing for everybody, the Sunday school picnic.

Jane: Where did you go for your Sunday school picnic?

Mrs. Campbell: They went to Dover. I can't remember too much about going to Boston. I can remember just as a small child going from Scotland with Mr. Morley Wheeler taking a truck load to Port Dover and I know our family picnic would be either Dover or Mohawk Park.

Jane: What was Christmas like when you were younger?

Mrs. Campbell: It was a day where you had your regular Christmas meal and look for Santa Claus the same as they do today. I can remember asking mother when I was older where she kept my doll buggy. I had a really nice doll buggy. She never did tell me where she'd stored that. (laughter) But Santa Claus was usually pretty good to us.

Jane: Did you do anything special on Hallowe'en?

Mrs. Campbell: Well being in the country we, we did go out. To get to the small village of Boston we had the same mile and a half to walk so you didn't go. But I can remember going the odd time and calling on people same as you do today. But uh, young fellows used to do a lot of cutting up and damage there was one time they put implements up on the church shed. Then there was an elderly lady lived alone and they'd always take her little outhouse and put it in the middle of the four corners near Boston. (laughter) But uh, just the usual kid's pranks. I was never in any part of that because years ago girls—I can't hardly ever remember talking to boys when I went to school—girls and boys kept separate pretty well.

Jane: Did you do anything special at Thanksgiving?

Mrs. Campbell: No, other than we might have relatives and went someplace for dinner or had somebody in for dinner.

Jane: What about Easter? Anything special then?

Mrs. Campbell: Not, other than have your special candies the same as you do today. No, country people didn't travel too often or too far. When I was growing up not too manv had cars. They weren't used in the winter time. The farmers would put their cars up on blocks till the spring time. They didn't have anti-freeze in those days. (laughter)

Jane: What kind of things were there to do when you were around the dating age?

Mrs. Campbell: Oh I guess going to movies which were decent movies then. (laughs) Well then at one time, I can't remember how long of a period it was but I used to be into music for Christ meetings they used to have in Brantford. I don't know whether they went all through the year or just through the spring time. I can remember four of us going in a Model T Coupe. (laughter)

Jane: At the movies, did they just show one movie or did they have news in between or what were movies like?

Mrs. Campbell: There'd be news and a funny film. One thing that was nice when we went to Simcoe to a movie, if you were late getting into it they would continue showing it until everyone had seen it.

Jane: Chat's different. Okay, What were the fashions like?

Mrs. Campbell: Well, the twenties is when I grew up. They were the Flappers, movie hats. (laughter) Through most of that time they were around the short side and not too full a skirt. To go to the movies—I worked in Waterford at Penmen's for several years—and if you didn't have a boy-friend to take you, you walked up to this—did you go_to Waterford high? You didn't. Well the station's quite a distance from the main part. You'd walk up the station and you'd take a trolley to Simcoe and then walk from there to the theatre and then back again. (laughter) When I worked, my folks were here in Scotland. When I'd go home for the week-end I would walk to the station in Waterford and then would walk from Oakland up here. Usually I'd get Mr. Thorn or Mr. Baker who was the town cop to take me back to the station on Sunday nights. You can imagine walking down to Oakland.

Jane: It's a long way.

Mrs. Campbell: I didn't go to high school very long because where where we lived at Boston we were as far from the station as we are from Oakland Station here and you had to take the trolley from there to Waterford and then walk from there to the high school and then back. Well it was too much in the winter time so I went at Christmas time.

Jane: What kind of music did you listen to?

Mrs. Campbell: Well, mostly my mother's singing, (laughs) because there was no radios till...when I was sixteen and that was at Christmas. That's when radios were first coming around in the country. In fact, there was no hydro in the country till...

Jane: When and where were you married?

Mrs. Campbell: Scotland, 1937.

Jane: Could you describe your wedding?

Mrs. Campbell: Well it was a very quiet affair. We lived across the street from the preacher.

Jane: Well, that's handy.

Mrs. Campbell: Well the minister lived where Helen Gibson lives [Two houses up from St. Anthony Daniels Catholic Church, Simcoe street] and my folks lived where John Shepherd's lived. Mr. Anderson and his several children were friends of mine. Uh, of course, not many people had large weddings in those days unless you were fairly well off and we just walked across the road from my place to the preacher's and back home again. (laughter) We had eleven people and then a supper of course, but it was a very quiet affair. The church had a shower for us. My husband's home was at Northfield and they had a shower and gave us a clock which is still running.

Jane: What does your husband do for a living?

Mrs. Campbell: Well, he worked at farm work. When we were married he made a dollar and a quarter a day working for a farmer.

Jane: Where did you settle when you were married?

Mrs. Campbell: Our first home was in a small house at Northfield. We lived there about nine to ten months then we moved over to where Mrs. Drysdale has been living, across from Cranes up the Kelvin Road. We were there a year and a half uh, do you want all my history?

Debbie: Yeah.

Mrs. Campbell: And then we moved down to this red brick and we lived there a little over a year and then we moved out to Fairfield.

Joanne: Where is that red brick house?

Mrs. Campbell: Uh, it's where John Shepherd's live.

Joanne: Right, okay.

Mrs. Campbell: And then we lived uh, Charlie Whitfield a farmer, a Mr. Potter over near Fairfield next to Alfred Davis, were there a year and then we took on the farm where Murray Smith is, the Shepherd's owned that. Charlie worked on shares for two years. Our one daughter was born there. Then they had a chance to sell it so we moved to to a farm place. We were there six months and our second daughter was born. Then we moved up to the #2 highway and we lived in that house a year. We moved up the highway a little farther and lived there a year. There was quite a tragedy at that place. They had a garage with a living quarters above it and in it and they had a bad fire and the father and the son were burnt in the fire. The lady of course had to sell the place and she was selling it to a veteran and before they would let the veterans or the V.L.-A. would let them have the money the house had to be vacant so we had to move out. We moved over to Fairfield; we were there about four months and they sold their farm and we moved over another mile to the Ram place. We were there eight years. That's where Mels owned-it. Then the Rams sold. After eight years just when we were wanting a house my mother died. We bought her house and moved to Scotland. We've been there for twenty-five years now. (laughter)

Joanne: After all that moving [phone rings, tape is shut off]

Mrs. Campbell: [Tape turned back on] The gentleman Charlie worked for when we were married uh—the people in Northfield took up a collection to buy the clock. This [one] gentleman didn't care for the man that did the collecting so on pay clay he give my husband an extra 25 cents which was our gift from him. I bought a little frying pan with that 25 cents and I still have that frying pan. (laughs)

Jane: How many children did you have?

Mrs. Campbell: Three.

Jane: Who were they and where are they?

Mrs. Campbell: I have Hugh, the son and Pat Mulligan my daughter and Louise Doyle, our second daughter.

Jane: When wore they born?

Mrs. Campbell: In 1939, 1942, and 1944.

Jane: And is that the two girls first?

Mrs. Campbell: No, Hugh is the oldest. He's born in December, 1939. Pat was born in August 1942 and Louise in August, 1944.

Jane: Did World War I affect you at ell?

Mrs. Campbell: No, other than...because the German name father had to get registered, but uh it didn't affect the family. My half brother was in the army and was as far as England so they didn't hold the German name against the family. In the second war they did. One gentleman was here in the village whom they did hold it against and I think they made him get out of the school, he was a teacher.

Joanne: You mean he was a Nazi? (laughs)

Mrs. Campbell: Well ha wasn't no, but because of the German name. Well that was Mr. Kaufman, you can check with someone about that. I'm not sure about the particulars but I know there was some controversy over it. My uncle lost a leg in the first world war. He had two close calls. He was with a machine gun, a motorcycle machine gun and one day he had his hand on the machine and was going for more shells. While he was down a shell took his watch, he had his hand on the machine and was going for more shells. While he was down a shell took his watch, he had a watch leather strap watch and the shell took the watch off the strap. He just was lucky he was down. The next time uh they were resting behind the lines and he thought someone had kicked him in the shin and one of the fellows said "Well, there goes your leg George," and he says, "I guess not." Sure enough his leg was gone because he had felt someone had kicked him. At that time they gave him blood transfusions by the person being right there beside him* He lived to be 58. He wouldn't talk much about the war, But my brother was in the Second World War. He was quite becoming. He got through his first year then he was an instructor for a year and then they sent him overseas. He got to England just when the war was about over so his job there was receiving soldiers coming back. He never saw any action.

Jane: How did the depression affect your family?

Mrs. Campbell: Well we were lucky we had enough food but uh, I was lucky that I had a job. I was working at Penman's most of the time. Of course, you'd be laid off periodically but no one had very much money to do much with. We always had enough to eat and enough to wear. We were never destitute like some were.

Jane: In the twenties, were they really as roaring as they claim they were?

Mrs. Campbell: Well not in the country. (laughs) The fastest life I ever had was what you'd have in Waterford at that time. (laughs)

Jane: Do you belong to any clubs or organizations now?

Mrs. Campbell: Just the church organizations. I go to the Institute some of the time but I'm not a member. Oh, when I was 46 I went back to school to become a hairdresser.

Jane: That's kind of neat.

Mrs. Campbell: Well I was quite proud. When you try the exam you have both theory and practical. I hadn't really that much education but I've always been a reader. My marks in the theory were equal to girls that had had Grade 12 so I thought that was something to be proud of.

Jane: That's good... Do you have any hobbies, or special skill-crafts that you do?

Mrs. Campbell: Well I used to do all my own sewing and I do crocheting and macrame. On Mother's Day one of my girls gave me a cushion top for hooking so I learned to do that.

Jane: Do you remember what the stores were like around here?

Mrs. Campbell: Well, I can remember where Huggins is, there used to be a Mr. Smith at the store when I was a little girl. When I was little I had long curls and I was kind of cute. (laughter) In those days the store keeper always give a child candy. I can remember coming home from somewhere in the horse and buggy at night and this house across from the Funeral Home where Mrs. Claves used to be. Well that was a bake shop and I can just remember it burning, as we came along. The store where your folks are (looking) at Debbie Urban) it had burned. I don't remember it burning but I remember it being freshly opened and buying a little china, Japanese or Chinese doll. This area was sort of like a fifteen cents store area but I don't know what the rest of it was.

Jane: What were the roads like?

Mrs. Campbell: Mud.

Jane: Do you remember when they paved them around here?

Mrs. Campbell: Not really. I remember when Boston was paved.

Joanne: Do you remember what the roads were like, they were called cordorroy roads or something like that.

Mrs. Campbell: Yes, and you can still find some of that if you go, it used to be the road that Ross Courtnage lives on, going up to Northfield. Well there used to be a lot visible in that road. Now they've just reworked it so I don't know whether you'd see any or not. Another place is over near Curries where Harold Ram's lives now. There's a boggy road down through. In fact, there's a sink hole in there and if you hit over some of those roads you would still come across some of the logs across the road.

Jane: Do you know when the telephone came through?

Mrs. Campbell: No... well Scotland's had the telephone for quite a while-I think. I know in the depression years my folks lived at Northfield for a little while. When they left, Charlie's folks moved down to that farm. His folks had a phone. Different people had phones in 1930 but shortly after that I think there was only one phone in the whole neighbourhood because they just couldn't afford to keep ones.

Joanne: What about electricity, do you remember when that came in around here?

Mrs. Campbell: I don't remember when Scotland got it as such. I know he house across the road from us just got the hydro in about 1954. There were still houses in Scotland in 1955 that didn't have hydro. (laughter) Northfield got their hydro the year that Louise was born, 1944. Where we were living there was no hydro and people were visiting there from Northfield and they were just getting hydro then. A lot of them were just getting it in the downstairs. I remember them saying this one family was running a cord from downstairs-upstairs. They were happy just to have it in the downstairs part.

Jane: Do you remember what elections were like?

Mrs. Campbell: Not really. I know one thing, you weren't supposed to let on that you were paid. (laughter) I never had much to do with elections until we lived in Northfield. I helped a time or two. I remember the gentleman that had got me to help but I wasn't supposed to let on what were paid or how much we're paid and you weren't paid very much. (laughter) I think now-a-days they do get a decent wage.

Joanne: What exactly did you do when you worked for whoever it was had the election, during the election?

Mrs. Campbell: Oh, well you were a scrutineer. We had to see that see who came in were on the list and then you had to help count the ballots at the end of the day. That was my job.

Joanne: Was it more of a big event back then than it is now?

Mrs. Campbell: Well not really in the country I don't think. City people take it more seriously. We were never involved in politics that much. They were people that wouldn't consider anybody else but their own party or even be civil to people that were...

Joanne: As far as living in Scotland when you were younger or even now, what's your overall impression about Scotland?

Mrs. Campbell: There's one thing that I didn't mention that I still could remember was the band playing. You probably had a quite a few reports about the band leaders. There used to be the band stand there on the corner and you could hear all over. Then that same band would play at the declaration service. Well, Scotland's been a nice quiet place to live anyway. It's like every other place they have their little scandals and people have their little differences but overall think it's a fairly decent place to live. It's got two nice girls sitting there (looking at Debbie Urban and Jane Shaver.) (laughs).


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