|Date of birth||February 14, 1924|
- 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 Joanne Vamos interviewing Mrs. Margery Gatward at her home in Oakland, Ontario, July 22, 1980.
Joanne: Could you tell us where and when you were born Mrs. Gatward?
Mrs. Gatward: Yes, I was born in Oakland Township down at the Smiths' Mill in a house there on February 14th, 1924.
Joanne: Oh—Valentines Day. Would you be able to tell us anything about the event of your birth that maybe your mom told you?
Mrs. Gatward: Well yes. I was a seven month baby and they never lived in that day and age. But I did for some unknown reason and I think it was six months before they thought I was going to make it. But they finally did. My dad used to take me down to the mill—he ran the mill at the time and weigh me on the scales down there and he never told my mother what I weighed because I wasn't gaining. And uh, finally I did.
Joanne: Really! Where exactly did you grow up in Oakland Township?
Mrs. Gatward: Well for five or six years we lived at the Smiths' Mill. My father ran the mill. And then we moved around a bit because he was a millwright and he installed machinery in mills and uh, we lived in Otterville. We lived in Oakland village where Sutherland's live now for quite a while. And then he built the house across from um, Mrs. Abbott lives, where Clark's live now. That's where I spent most of my time from about eleven on. In the summer like he used to install machinery and he had to go all over. And we went with him and camped. One time when we were in Tweed—he was working in a mill there. We went in June and there was snow on the ground when we got out of bed in the morning. And we were camping, eh! And we started school down there. So it was kind of rough.
Joanne: Could you tell us a bit about your ancestors like your grandparents and you father and mother—who they are?
Mrs. Gatward: My father is Albert Smith and lives in Powassan, North Bay and he's one of the Smiths from the Smiths' Mill down there. My mother is Murtle Kelly and she lives in Brantford. My grandparents, um, grandpa and grandma Kelly had the farm down the CKPC road and it was—it is now owned by Srokas. And my grandpa and grandma Smith, my Grandpa Smith was or course in the mill down here. I can even go back farther than that.
Joanne: Oh, could you go back farther then?
Mrs. Gatward: Well, Grandma Smith was a Poster and Grandma Kelly was a Messecar. There's Fosters in Scotland and Messecars in the area that are distant relatives. And we moved quite a few generations now.
Joanne: So your family goes way back here in Oakland Township.
Mrs. Gatward: In fact, the Kelly family came up from the States and it was—I don't know which grandparents how far back. But they had twins and they carried—they had a saddle or something over the horses back and a twin on each side. And they came up here.
Joanne: So when they came up here how long did it take before they built the mill?
Mrs. Gatward: Well it would be... I don't even know if that was the grandparents that built the mill. Hamilton Smith, which is my great-grandfather was the first Smith in the mill. Phil might know who built the mill. He used to work there. I'm not exactly sure.
Joanne: Did you have brothers and sisters?
Mrs. Gatward: I have one sister and two half brothers.
Joanne: Could you tell me who they are and where they are now?
Mrs. Gatward: Well, my sister is. um, Dorthy Mehlenbacher and she lives in Fisherville. She is a field worker for the province. She looks after all those pensions-government pensions and so on and she does the Haldimand-Norfolk area. And uh, my brothers, I don't know them too well. They're my father's boys. The oldest one is an Ontario land surveyor and works at City Hall in Toronto and the youngest one is a mineralolgist and he works for a mining company up north somewhere.
Joanne: Where did you attend school?
Mrs. Gatward: I started to school in East Oakland which is now closed and my first year.... That was when we still lived at the mill and then most of my public school I got in the old school that burnt down up there. And then one year we were away. We lived in Otterville because my father was working in the mill up there. But we did move around a little bit. Always came back to Oakland though.
Joanne: Could you describe the schools, East Oakland and...
Mrs. Gatward: Oh yes. East Oakland—well I started school when I was five. So I don't remember it too well, but it was just a one-room school, not very well heated [with] an outdoor toilet.
Now this school up here. Of course, I can remember a lot easy and uh, it was a one-room and a furnace that didn't work very well. I was cold in the winter and it had outdoor toilets. But we had one school teacher who taught us home economics and one year we made a quilt. He taught us and he taught us...
Mrs. Gatward: He, it was a man. He taught us how to cook. We had hot lunches at noon and we made soup and he taught us how to do all those things. He was quite interesting. The one nice thing about it was if you got your work done you could listen to what the next grade was doing and the next year it was a lot easier. A one-room school's not all that bad I don't think. Never have thought so. Because you had to learn to work on your own. You didn't have a teacher all the time. And I could see when my kids went to school that I had advantages that they didn't have.
Joanne: And vise-versa. It could work too.
Mrs. Gatward: Oh yes. Works both ways.
Joanne: So, how far did you have to go to school?
Mrs. Gatward: Well, we lived at my Grandpa Kelly's place for quite a while there because my dad was travelling so much. And so we stayed there a lot and uh, we walked two miles at least. We didn't have—they didn't wear slacks then. Girls didn't wear slacks.
Joanne: What did you wear then?
Mrs. Gatward: We had these long underwear (laughs) and those ribbed stockings, you know. We just hated them. And or course, at the first of the week the long underwear was all tight around your ankle by the end of the week you were going like this (laughter) and tucking it all in.
Joanne: All baggy!
Mrs. Gatward: And, oh, we just hated it but that was the only way to keep warm walking through the snow in winter.
Joanne: Did you wear high boots or anything like that?
Mrs. Gatward: We just had galoshes and shoes. And our feet were always wet when we got to school. I don't know how we lived through it. (laughter) Yeah it was some—and when we lived down here well it wasn't as far, but it would be a mile. But we walked. And I can remember one day, oh, it was terribly cold—way below zero—and we asked our dad to drive us to school and he said "No, you walk but I'll walk with ya," And he walked to school with us. (laughter) He wouldn't baby us.
Joanne: Were there any special events or holidays that you celebrated at school, that you can remember?
Mrs. Gatward: Well, Hallowe'en was always a big day. We got all dressed up and we had candy and popcorn and everything. And Christmas—we had a school Christmas concert. That's about all I can think of. Didn't make much of Easter or Thanksgiving really.
Joanne: Usually I ask people about farms so, you didn't grow up on a farm so...
Mrs. Gatward: Well in a way I did, you see, because we were at my grandpa Kelly's so much and he had a farm. So I know quite a bit about farming.
Joanne: Well, okay then. What was it like growing up on the farm?
Mrs. Gatward: Well, it was nice. You felt free. We had all kinds of room. We could ride horseback or take off and go swimming in a dirty old swimming hole or wherever. We had cherries—black cherries, white cherries and sit up in the tree and pick cherries. We had pigs and I used to sit in the pig-pen with the pigs. (laughter) It was fun. I think it really gives you an education.
Joanne: Did you have to work on the farm, too?
Mrs. Gatward: Oh yes. We had to pick strawberries. We got half a cent a box and uh, pull the rye out of the wheat—you know how the rye comes up. And help with the cows and pigs. We were always busy.
Joanne: Could you tell us a bit about the farm? How large it is; who owned it; fir there's any improvements made.
Mrs. Gatward: It's fifty acres and my grandfather got a really good living off of it because it was mostly market gardening. He did grow some grain. It's been sold several times but it's gone down hill. It was a beautiful place at one time, a great big house. And then they turned it into a tobacco farm and they didn't keep it up. I hate to drive by it now.
Joanne: Who has it as a tobacco farm?
Mrs. Gatward: Joe Sroka.
Joanne: I'm going to ask you about your childhood now. What kinds of toys did you used to play with?
Mrs. Gatward: We really liked dolls, my sister and I, And um, we had different kinds of games like jacks—we used to like playing jacks and we swam a lot. We learnt to swim when we lived at the pond when we were four and five years old.
There's one interesting thing I should tell you that happened down there. My mother was very young. She was only seventeen when she got married and didn't really feel the responsibility of—didn't worry too much. And one day—I found out just this week that we were only three and four years old. And my sister and I got down on the pond—in the winter—it was covered with ice. And near the flume—like where the water falls down toward the mill—there was thin ice and I jumped right on it. And my sister, she was only four years old, tried to get me and the ice started to crack. But she knew enough to lay down on the ice and she grabbed my hair...or my hat first and it came off and then she hung on my hair and held it, because I was going under the ice. And stayed there until a man came from the mill and saw us, that we were in trouble. And ran in and had my dad shut the mill down and they got us out. And uh, you could imagine how cold it would be but our neighbours said—Beulah said, that we were outside playing within a half an hour again. (laughter) I think I can remember it, I don't know if I've heard it so much or if I actually remember. But at that time my grandfather was Reeve of Oakland Township and my sister should have had an award of some kind but because he was Reeve they couldn't. But imagine, at four years old saving my life.
Jane: I'm glad she had foresight!
Mrs. Gatward: I'm glad she did too. I'm glad she didn't push me under. (laughter)
Joanne: Where did you used to go skating?
Mrs. Gatward: We went skating at different places over the years. There used to be a rink in Scotland. There at the Baptist Church they had a barn and my dad and I used to skate there a lot. And then, we went to Waterford and on both ponds—all the time. We skated a lot.
Joanne: Were there any clubs or organizations that you could belong when you were young?
Mrs. Gatward: When I was a teenager we had a Young Peoples group and it was really active because in those days you didn't go to the show every week-end or whatever. You stayed in the community and that was our only fun, really. And we really had a nice group and had a lot of fun. And the CGIT group (Canadian Girls in Training) when I was younger. But that's about it.
Joanne: Which church did you belong to?
Mrs. Gatward: I belong to Oakland United.
Joanne: How were you or are you now involved in the church?
Mrs. Gatward: Well right now, I am Treasurer of the Pastoral Charge which is—we have three churches and they all support the minister like they all pay their share so what I look after is the Parsonage. I pay all the bills for the Parsonage and the minister's salary and uh, it's quite a bit of work. And then look after the Missions and Service Funds and sent the money in periodically. It involves— and that's all I do. I was in the choir for a long time and before starting work I was Sunday School Superintendent and teacher and I kept it up for a year after I started but it was too much. I couldn't handle it.
Joanne: Do you recall any special events that have ever happened at the church?
Mrs. Gatward: At our church? Of course everybody's told you about the garden party. That was really a big day. Right from a child up, that was something you looked forward to, from one year to the next. And Phil and I always helped with it. We worked in the booth. And their anniversaries— we've had some pretty big ones up there. I've seen the time we had everything filled up. Downstairs, upstairs and in the aisles and everything. But um, I can't really remember anything else.
Joanne: What were Christmases like when you were younger?
Mrs. Gatward: We went to both grandparents—Grandma Smith and Grandma Kelly and uh, that Grandma Kelly, she was a wonderful cook and we always had roast turkey and we used her Limoges dishes which I just loved as a child and which are going to be mine. And uh, this great big house that we could do anything we liked in. Grandma always gave us a doll for Christmas. It was always on the Christmas tree.
For New Years we went to Grandma Smith's. And she always had roast duck. Which I don't really care for but she always had it anyways. That was when they lived at the mill and then they lived in Scotland for a while and uh, it was between those two places and we always went there.
Joanne: Did you have a Santa Claus?
Mrs. Gatward: No, no Santa Claus. We always—you've heard about our Christmas concert at the hall. Well as a child I always took part in that and I always did something. The school got it ready. And that was a big deal. That's where Santa Claus came. And we believed in Santa Claus long after we started school, because, I don't know—we was kind of stupid I guess, (laughter) I can remember when I still believed in Santa Claus and then being quite suspicious if there was any Santa Claus and then being very disappointed when I found out. It's funny. I think now the kids know before they even start to school.
Joanne: They must! How could they not know? Hallowe'en. How did you celebrate Hallowe'en?
Mrs. Gatward: We always went out to trick or treat. We never did much tricking. (laughter) in those days. We always went out.
Joanne: Did you make a costume, like a homemade costume?
Mrs. Gatward: Yes. It was always homemade. We looked forward to Hallowe'en. We got candy and junk. It was fun.
Joanne: Can you remember anything—maybe not that you've done but when you were younger that you might have heard about that other people done on Hallowe'en night?
Mrs. Gatward: Oh, there was so many things. I don't know where to start. Well one thing I do remember didn't happen very long ago, was when I first started up here as Clerk and I was in Oakland, you know, where the Hainers live. You know where that is. And there was a toilet sitting in front of my office with toilet paper strung all over when I got there in the morning, right in front of the office.
Joanne: Like a real toilets.
Mrs. Gatward: A real toilet. They'd look a long ways before they'd find one now. But as a child, why, there was always wagons on top of buildings. Oh, they did all kinds of things.
Joanne: Mostly the boys did it.
Mrs. Gatward: Oh, always the boys—older boys too.
Joanne: Did you celebrate Dominion Day in any way at all?
Mrs. Gatward: No we didn't.
Joanne: May 24th was the garden party. We've heard a lot about it but maybe you could tell us about any special garden party or any significant thing that maybe you remember about one or a couple of them.
Mrs. Gatward: All kind of runs in together. Now we had good programs and we paid a lot for them. I don't believe I can remember anything special. Every one was a special event, as far as I was concerned.
Joanne: Do you know when they stopped?
Mrs. Gatward: Well, it's that long. Phil might know that. Well, I suppose it's a lot longer than I think. I think, probably maybe the last one was um, in 1967. Has anybody else ever told you?
Joanne: No. Nobody seems to know.
Mrs. Gatward: Well, we had a garden party when we celebrated our nundredth—our Centennial and I don't remember that they weren't going before that.
Joanne: A lot of the people can't remember. It's like they always happened but when did they stop.
Mrs. Gatward: Yeah. Well time goes by so fast. It was probably longer ago than anybody realizes, but I know when we were first married we were really active in them and we worked hard at it. I would say twenty-five years maybe. But I do remember the one in 1967. And I'm not sure if there was —you know, if that's where the cut off point was. I think it must have been further.
Joanne: Maybe they had a special one that year.
Mrs. Gatward: Yes. They did have that day.
Joanne: What kinds of things were there for you to do when you were at the dating age?
Mrs. Gatward: Well, skating and I never was to a dance till after I was married. Only once—only once, out at Port Dover out at Simmer Gardens. And we had a negro boy who belonged to our Young Peoples group and when I say I was at, I really, as it turned out I didn't attend that dance. But we went to the—Young Peoples group went to the dance and they wouldn't let (him) in because he was a negro so we all left—we all left. But uh, and we went skating.
Joanne: Did you ever go into Brantford to the shows...
Mrs. Gatward: ...to the shows. Oh, yeah. Foot long hotdogs and that sort of thing, yeah. That was a common thing to go to the show in those days. We had a pretty strict curfew.
Joanne: What year would that be around?
Mrs. Gatward: When I was dating? Oh let's see. Let me figure it out. I started when I was young because my sister couldn't go out unless I went with her and I was too young. I didn't enjoy it. I didn't want to go. (laughter) Well, I was fifteen and even before—maybe fourteen. I'm fifty-six years old, so that was um—fourteen—would be forty-two years ago so that would be—I've been married thirty-five. So 1936 I think it was.
Joanne: Was that in the thirties or forties?
Mrs. Gatward: Yes. It would be in the thirties and forties.
Joanne: So there was lot's of cars driving around and all that stuff was common then.
Mrs. Gatward: Oh yes. We had cars. But everyone didn't have a car. Usually one would have a car and there'd be six or seven or eight even in a car. (laughter)
Joanne: Same way it is now!
Mrs. Gatward: But most all the kids have cars now but that wasn't— they used their father's car. I don't remember any boy I went with really owning a car. Just not thought of.
Joanne: What were the fashions like when you were a teenager?
Mrs. Gatward: When I was still in school it was bobby socks and pleated skirts and just plain blouses to wear with it.
Joanne: What were the hair styles be?
Mrs. Gatward: Well, I can remember how I had mine. I don't know, everybody didn't do the same thing as much as they do now, I don't think. My hair was curly then and so I combed it straight back and it was all waved across here in little waves and pinned it like I get it now. Only the only reason I got it this way now is because it's too long. And then some had many shorter cuts even then. They didn't have long hair very much. Then when I got to be a teenager then the long hair came in and I wore my hair longer. And um, you know, there wasn't any certain style that I can remember.
Joanne: Unless you were right up on the fashions.
Mrs. Gatward: Yeah. And we sure weren't. (laughter) I can tell you that.
Joanne: When and where were you married?
Mrs. Gatward: I was married in 19...I've been married 36 years—-1944 and in Beulah's (Learmouth) house. It was April 15t 194.
Joanne: Could you describe your wedding to us?
Mrs. Gatward: Yes. First of all it was a big disappointment to me. I got up in the morning and had a telegram from my father who had remarried. Said he had a son and that his wife didn't want him to leave him so he didn't get to my wedding. And that's what started my day off all wrong. Then Jack (Learmouth) gave me away. And uh, my grandma Smith was still alive and she was there. But there were only about twenty guests and Beulah had a really nice lunch afterwards. But my mother wanted to have something for me too and she was living over on the Kelly farm at the time. So, I worked at McFail Brothers in Brantford and she invited all the people I worked with and her side of the family. So we had two receptions and no time for pictures. And it rained and none of the pictures turned out. So we have nothing—nothing of our wedding. But that's because we tried to work in two receptions and it hailed. The dye came out of the confetti all over my dress and it was a real mess. Good thing it worked out all right in the long run. (laughter)
Joanne: Did you go anywhere on a honeymoon?
Mrs. Gatward: We went to Windsor and Detroit. Phil had relatives in Detroit and Windsor and that's why we went. He was in the army at the time.
Joanne: Where did you settle down after you were married?
Mrs. Gatward: Right here. And we started out with that room there (dining room) and we had a wood stove and a little bed and a cupboard in the corner and the hydro was hooked up down at Beulah's. And then uh, we thought it was going to be a garage but in that day you just didn't borrow a lot of money to build a house. So we built on and I couldn't tell you how many times we built on. Five maybe. Our son John says, "Well, it's time to knock the house down again and start all over." I don't know um, but this is where we started out. But when the kids were small right up to the time—our house didn't get big enough until just before Neil was married. But we had three boys in one bedroom—terrible.
Joanne: Could be worse!
Mrs. Gatward: Couldn't have been much worse.
Joanne: Could you tell us who your children are and where they are now?
Mrs. Gatward: Jim Gatward, he's the oldest and lives out on the Cockshutt Road the other side of Boston about two miles and he built a new house there. And he was a field man for York Farms. He's a graduate from Ridgetown University and he was a field man for York Farms for nine years I think it was. He has two children and the hours were terrible and he never saw them all summer so he decided to—he had a job offer at the Co-op in Norwich, so that's where he works now.
John he's—of course they're all married. And John was an assessor to start with and took the course, you know the assessors course. And then he was a partner in Green Valley (farm equipment dealership in Mt. Vernon) for a while. And now he's an interior expediter with Massey's and he has to look after all the parts and stuff like that.
And Neil, he didn't go very far in school. He hated school and he works at Massey's. They both work in the same department and that's really funny. But he's a labourer. They sure make good money. He's always full of fun, Neil. But don't send him to school. (laughter)
Joanne: Was it your son Neil who rescued that little girl?
Mrs. Gatward: Yes.
Joanne: Could you tell us about that story?
Mrs. Gatward: Well, he didn't even come home and tell me. (laughter) The woman saw it happen down there and so she told me about it. I don't know who reported it to the Expositor, somebody did. And in a way it was kind of too bad because I don't think the Vivian's like it, because it was their granddaughter and whether they thought people would think they weren't looking after her or not. They wanted to take the granddaughter's picture and they wouldn't let them. The Vivian's wouldn't let the Expositor. But he did. He rescued the two kids.
Joanne: And he didn't tell you.
Mrs. Gatward: No. Didn't bother telling me. (laughter)
Joanne: Oh well. He's probably like you. He probably just went off and played later. World War I. That wouldn't have affected you...
Mrs. Gatward: No. That's way before—1918.
Joanne: So. how did World War II affect you?
Mrs. Gatward: It really did affect us. Even when the war broke out it was very upsetting because we knew everybody, all the men who'd have to go. And I guess I would have been about sixteen. It didn't affect me that much till I got married and Phil was in the army and he was stationed in Halifax. My father joined the Air Force and so I was left and that's when I went to live with Beulah and Jack. That was a real upsetting time for me because of the separation and so on. And (father) was sent right out west. And as a matter of fact he worked on the same German planes that were shot down to see how they were put together.
And then Phil—after we got married...um we were married in April and in August I went down to Halifax and we lived there a year. Under terrible conditions we had. And when we were there a year later the war in Japan was over and things were letting up in Europe. It was V.E. (Victory in Europe) day first wasn't it? I've forgotten. I guess it was V. E. day first. And then he got sent back to Montreal and I went back with him but I couldn't get a job in Montreal because I couldn't speak French— Quebec City not Montreal. And so I came on home and he was out within six weeks. Then we started building this house here.
Joanne: I've sort of gone World War II before the Depression. So how did the Depression affect your family financially?
Mrs. Gatward: It really didn't because my dad was a millwright and he always had a job and it was a good paying job. I don't remember much about the depression. Phil sure does but I don't. And I remember that the things were tough, I know, But we didn't really go without anything.
Joanne: I think Oakland was lucky.
Mrs. Gatward: We were lucky, yes.
Joanne: Do you have any crafts or hobbies or special skills that you do?
Mrs. Gatward: I like fooling around with the canoe and skate and swim and uh, ride bicycle. I used to knit but I'm not good at anything like that. I'm sure not an artist but I can appreciate it. So I don't really have a special talent, I guess. I used to sing a lot, but I don't anymore.
Joanne: Could you tell us about being Township Clerk?
Mrs. Gatward: Well, I didn't work at all when the kids were little.
Neil was in grade eight and he was the youngest. The job was open and so I applied for it. I thought it was time that I could go to work and I actually didn't have the education for it. I had grade 12 and I got a business course at BCI; but then it didn't require that much education in a way. It was just somebody that works hard. I didn't know if I would get it or not. I started out at $2700 a year and the first year the former Clerk was supposed to work with me because you know, starting in cold at a job like that was pretty hard. Well, as it turned out he—about after the first week he came in about fifteen minutes a week and that's all I saw him. So I just had to teach myself and I just went through the files and I read everything that I could find and on the books I just reviewed everything that he did and tried and tried till I could do it. And then after the first year I took a quick Treasurer's course and of course that helped quite a bit. That took two years.
Joanne: What year was that?
Mrs. Gatward: January 1, 1965 was when I started. I'm not sure whether it was the second year or the third year that I started the course. Think I got it in 1970 so it must have been 1967 I started.
The job is very frustrating at times but it is very interesting and rewarding. You learn an awful lot about people because you're taking their money on them. (laughter) You learn not to let people upset you. When I first started there was a man that was going to drive a tractor right through my office because the snow-plough knocked off his hydrometre and he had it right out on the road from the barn. And uh, that really threw me. But I got over that and I learnt to let them blow off steam and not to get upset and then to talk to them when they've cooled down. It nearly always works. Sometimes it doesn't. Most everything I can deal with but the odd time I just have to ask them to come to a council meeting and talk to council. But it is a—really a different kind of job and it covers a lot of things. I don't think people realize how many things it covers like: fire department, fire area, cemeteries, sell marriage licences, hunting licences uh, I look after the police in each end of it. Well, it's just endless, I don't know where you'd stop. I think that's why it's a different job to learn because it covers so much. And it's not routine. I mean, it changes all the time. And the legislation changes it and it affects the things you do and you have to keep up with it and keep reading. It's not a job that's static. I mean you just got to keep working.
Joanne: So, are you really interested in politics?
Mrs. Gatward: Oh, I don't think I'd ever want to be a politician but I'm interested in politics—all levels of government.
Joanne: Could you tell us—I'm not sure if they've changed or not—the municipal elections in Oakland Township.
Mrs. Gatward: They were every year at one time and now it's every two years. In fact, I think it was in 1968 we started in the two year terms. Which is really better because it takes a council—a new councilor a year to learn the job. And he really isn't of much value until the second year. He or she I should say. (laughter)
Debbie: I was wondering. These municipal elections—they don't really go out or campaign or anything, eh?
Mrs. Gatward: They do.
Debbie: Do they?
Mrs. Gatward: Oh yes.
Debbie: Because, like over the times that I've lived there I've never—I don't know whether I just don't pay attention or what if is.
Mrs. Gatward: Well I do think that people get sort of—they don't show the interest they should. And even the councilors. They should be out election year. But a lot of them just don't bother.
Debbie: Like I see their pictures in the paper but that's it.
Joanne: Well only about 30 percent of the people usually vote anyways.
Mrs. Gatward: Yes. Unless you have an issue. Like one year we had the liquor vote along with our municipal, election. That was in 1976 I believe.
Joanne: Yes. Wasn't too long ago.
Mrs. Gatward: We had a 65 percent turn-out. And that was really frustrating because I was running the elections under two different acts. I had to have two different sets of poll clerks and VRO at each poll. It would be too confusing for one clerk because the rules and regulations were different. It really took a lot of studying and work. And that was the year the office moved to Scotland, in October. And it was just terrible because it never did get settled upstairs. You can probably see that. Just terrible.
Joanne: Could you tell us a bit about the different Reeves?
Mrs. Gatward: Well, there's only been one since I've been here so I really can't. Alvin's a really good Reeve but a lot of people will find fault with him. Mind you, he's made bad friends and I'm sure I have. I'm sure anybody in that kind of work makes—and that's the thing that bothers me most about the job is that...say there is someone refused a severance and they may hold it against me. There's one family that has because they didn't get a severance and I have no control over it whatsoever. All I do is what I'm told. That does frustrate you because there's nothing you can do about it. But you can't be a councilor either and expect not to make bad friends. Because you have to make decisions and they don't suit everybody.
Joanne: Could you tell us anything about the different Town Hall sites? Like the different places that it's moved around to?
Mrs. Gatward: Well the only ones that I remember is of course, I remember when it was in Percy Button's house, And you know where that is? Where (Ralph) Zuidervliet's live now, little white house on the other side of the road. And I remember when he was Clerk they had the council meetings there. And then Ward Irwin, he. was before me. In that house down—you know when you went to interview Edith Bonham. The next house down. It's way back in. It's a great big house. He had the meetings in his house. Then when I took over as Clerk they moved me up here in Oakland.
Joanne: Didn't you have them at your home?
Mrs. Gatward: No. No way. And then at Scotland. No, I didn't want it in my house.
Joanne: And then now you're going to be moving to the school. (Oakland Public)
Mrs. Gatward: Back to the school.
Joanne: That'll be nice.
Mrs. Gatward: Probably next year. I doubt if they'll get back there sooner. But that's where it will be.
Joanne: Do you recall any of your neighbours from way back?
Mrs. Gatward: Well I remember Beulah's mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Ken Smith. They lived next door and they were great neighbours. And of course, Beulah and Jack—you couldn't ask for better. We've got good neighbours now, it's really wonderful. Mr. and Mrs. Payson Vivian at the mill down here. I remember them very well. They used to come to our place. And she sang at my wedding.
Joanne: Did you used to have lots of little parties?
Mrs. Gatward: Yes. It's still one big party here. They all sit on our picnic table on Saturday morning. Never get anything done. Lynn and Jim, and Bev arid Dorothy and Beulah and Jack sometimes. And they all congregate along here around the picnic table. One big party. But yeah, we did have parties. Beulah used to have them. Everybody on the street every so often.
Joanne: What was your overall impression of Oakland Township and the changes? Different changes. How do you think it's changed—and if it's better or worse.
Mrs. Gatward: Well, I think probably it's for the better. We've had to come up with a lot of rules and regulations that seem to affect people that it shouldn't. The rules apply to everybody and some people might feel that it's not a democracy anymore. It's like a planning—you've studied planning a certain amount. We have a zoning by-law and one area is for agriculture and one area is for residential and so on. And if a farmer wants to sever a lot off his land and he can't—isn't allowed a severance. Then he feels it's his property and he doesn't have any rights. And I can see the advantages and the disadvantages. I think our community is better because of our rules and regulations, and Oakland has some of the strictest rules. Like we don't have trailers stuck all over the township because we have a by-law and we try to control development so that the community villages and preserve our fanning area. There were times that, well, when we built our house we didn't get a building permit. We didn't even need one. But then, we learnt. We put in our back room and the septic system didn't work properly because we didn't have the health unit. So, it's for people's own protection even though they don't realize it. I think Oakland Township is a better place now than it was twenty-five years ago. Even though the taxes are a little higher. (laughter)