|Date of birth||January 1, 1904|
- 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 Debbie Urban interviewing her father, Mr. Paul Urban at his home in Scotland, Ontario, July 29, 1980.
Debbie: Could you tell me when and where you were born?
Mr. Urban: Well, I was born in Hungary in 1904 and come to Canada in 1928.
Debbie: What made you decide to come to Canada?
Mr. Urban: Well I was young and I was thing I was going to come to Canada. A lot of people was coming out and I was going to make a little money and go back to Hungary and start my life. (tape is shut-off)
Debbie: What kind of transportation did you use to arrive here? Did you come by boat or a plane?
Mr. Urban: I come on a boat.
Debbie: Was it a big boat? Were there lots of other foreigners coming over too?
Mr. Urban: Oh, yeah, all sorts of people was coming.
Debbie: How long did it take you?
Mr. Urban: Two weeks.
Debbie: Where did you go when you arrived in Canada?
Mr. Urban: To Montreal, from Montreal take me to Calgary.
Debbie: What were your plans after you arrived in Canada? What did you want to do in this country?
Mr. Urban: Well, I didn't have my mind on anything to what I was going to do. Just what was coming so I took any kind of job was coming along.
Debbie: Could you tell me where you travelled before you came to Scotland?
Mr. Urban: Oh, I was down in Hamilton and from Hamilton I went down to Port Colborne and I got a job down in Port Colborne in a nickel factory and I've been working till 1930 and you get a factory laid off so I went all over. I went to down to Rodney, Ontario and I've been working on a farm there and when the harvest's done /I/ come down to Waterford. I've been working in a shoe store to fix shoes.
Debbie: What was the year that you came to Scotland?
Mr. Urban: In the fall—1930.
Debbie: Could you describe what the village was like when you arrived here, like for instance the reeds?
Mr. Urban: Well it was kind of rough roads and lots of horses, teams go around and so on. Don't have many car what they are now I worked on a farm some and working an my own-I open shoe store. I started fixing harness and shoes. After that start to selling harness and some harness parts and so.
Debbie: How did you learn this trade?
Mr. Urban: Well I learn to Hungary. I come to London and I had a friend too who was a shoemaker. He get me job down at shoe repair store and I've been working there all winter. After that, again I went in the summertime to work on a tobacco farm, planting and when the harvest come along, work in the harvest time. From there I went down to Waterford. This is the time I get a job down Waterford in a shoe store and again in the summer time I've been working on a farm and the fall I make up my mind I try to open up my own store.
Debbie: Well, what made you decide on Scotland?
Mr. Urban: Well a fellow who had a friend here and he told me he had a harness shop here and...
Debbie: Do you remember the name of the friend?
Mr. Urban: Yes. Joe Piotic and he bring me out here and he says, "I have a shoe store, a harness shop and I need a man here." So I open up back in there where I am now. (1980)
Debbie: Well, I understand you down here at this other...?
Mr. Urban: Yes, from here. I was just only about two and a half months I was here (at present store, 1980) and moved down there (one house over from Oakland Township Library) because it was a big hardware store and harness shop and it was a big harness shop and we know whose business it place it was. So I rent those and I moved in there. Mr. Hunter come along and had a shoe fixed and I just happen to think about to ask him if he's willing to rent those place. He says, "Yes." He had a dey and we went to look at it and I ask him how much money rent he wanted and he says four to five dollars a month. Four dollars for winter time and the summer time five. Just I've been paying steady $5.00 a month and build me nightly ship in there too, to work in there, and sleep in there and a little Quebec stove. I heat my place with those and cook on it.
Mr. Urban: I get married 1938 so I stayed there to 1942, and I bought that place (store on Simcoe Street) And we moved back again where I started the first time and since that we've been in there, to now. I bought that place and fixed it up by remodeling and so on so.
Debbie: I was wondering about the Depression, were you in this area during the Depression. That's during the 1930s?
Mr. Urban: Well, I wasn't here. I was on the farm, 1930. I just 1932 moved in here in the fall, in the village, Scotland.
Debbie: That's during the time of the Depression. Did the depression have any affect on your business?
Mr. Urban: No. No. I was started doing pretty good as soon as I moved in.
Debbie: That's good. Do you remember any of the people that lived around you when you were living down there in the other hardware?
Mr. Urban: Mr. A. W. Smith. He was across the road from me.
Mrs. Urban: Mrs. George Shepherd.
Mr. Urban: Yeah, Mrs. George Shepherd, my neighbour.
Mrs. Urban: No, Mrs. George Shepherd, it was George.
Debbie: That's right next to the building?
Mrs. Urban: Yes. That was Mrs. George Shepherd that was there. She was retired.
Debbie: Do you remember who took over that place after you moved back up here?
Mr. Urban: John Beckett.
Debbie: Did he have a business there too?
Mr. Urban: He had a hardware store.
Debbie: Do you know how long he had that hardware store?
Mr. Urban: I don't know.
Debbie: After you moved into this store here, how did you develop your business? Also, how has it changed since you first moved in?
Mr. Urban: Well how's I make a little money I always fixing and bought some more stuff and, and adding some more and so...
Debbie: I was wondering if you could tell me too about when you first started repairing harnesses and shoes and things...
Mr. Urban: First I started shoe fixing and after that start to fix harness and I start to selling harness. I bought it from manufacturers and sold parts and harness and I fixing too.
Debbie: What do you repair mostly today?
Mr. Urban: Today, well I fix shoes mostly.
Debbie: Nothing else then?
Mr. Urban: Not much, well some harness too, just not much.
Debbie: Do you remember when and where you were married?
Mr. Urban: When I got married right in village of Scotland.
Debbie: Oh, you did. Where, do you remember?
Mr. Urban: Well where we had the wedding?
Mr. Urban: Well down at Waterford, the other side of Waterford.
Debbie: Then you had like the church service in Scotland?
Mr. Urban: No, in Waterford. We married in Waterford United Church.
Debbie: Oh I see. Where did you settle after you were married?
Mr. Urban: Well right in that big grey building.
Debbie: (pause) Did you have any children?
Mr. Urban: No.
Debbie: No? You didn't eh? Oh, I thought maybe you did.
Mr. Urban: After—when I got married.
Debbie: Yes, that's what I mean.
Mr. Urban: Oh yeah.
Debbie: How many did you have?
Mr. Urban: Six.
Debbie: Could you tell me their names and where they are living now?
Mr. Urban: Yes. Betty down a Hamilton, and Helen she's down a Hamilton, Maryann she lives in Burlington. Well Johnny, he was born down there, (in former hardware store in Oakland Township) where I was working where I had a store and a business.
Debbie: And the others?
Mr. Urban: Another one is uh, I think is four born there (former store) and you and Frankie born here when I was here. Yes.
Debbie: Over all the years that you've lived in Scotland could you tell me if there's been much change in this village?
Mr. Urban: Well, a have a new road fixed up and buildings not many. Some buildings, yes.
Debbie: I'd like to ask you what do you think of the community of Scotland?
Mr. Urban: Oh, I guess alright.
During the interview Mr. Urban had a bit of difficulty recalling all that had occurred in the course of his many years living in Scotland, In order to clarify and add to the interview I sat down and talked with Mrs. Helen Urban. The following is a brief summary of her memories of the community of Scotland.
Her first memory is that of the Harness Repair Store which was located on Oakland St. across from the site of the new Royal Dank. At that time it was a grey building. The store was located in the front half with living quarters in the back. It included two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room plus a portable outhouse. The merchandise which in those days were harnesses and their accessories were all covered by train. Then it had to be picked up at the Scotland Railroad Station.
A very trying time in their lives as it was for everyone at that period was the Great Depression. When Paul was still single he had to work in the tobacco harvest and then repair harnesses and shoes in the evenings to make ends meet. Then after his marriage to his wife, Helen, laboured in tobacco in order to raise money for the business and also for the family they were starting to have.
Paul's was not the only business running at that time though. Mrs. Urban recalls some of the other businesses which were: (in approximately the year 1932): a barber shop ran by Mr. Cecil Hiles (situated in the former VanDusen Block Oakland St.) a Mr. Thorne presently operated a grocery store and a Post Office in the Present day (August 1980) Corner Store, and a Mr. Gladhill owned a pool room and a general store in the former Lucky Dollar Store located on the south corner of Oakland and Simcoe St.
In the days of yesteryear luxuries were very scarce in small villages such as Scotland. So the coming of such items as the car, the radio, the telephone and the television were great events. Upon asking Mrs. Urban when they obtained each of these items she replied, "Paul purchased his first car in 1937 the year before we were married. It was a 1927 Pontiac. He had a little portable radio roughly around the year 1934 or 1935. We didn't own a phone until we moved to our present store there on Simcoe St and that was about 1942. Then in 1956 we obtained our first television set.
With regards to a significant event that had occurred while living in Scotland Mr. Urban recalls the following story. It was in the year 1933 that it happened. Mr. Urban didn't have a car back then so he had to use his bicycle as a means of transportation. On his way back from visiting some friends in Norwich he was in the process of making a left-hand turn onto Talbot St. In the mean time there was a car coming from Talbot St. and in order not to hit him head, the driver swerved to his left. Unfortunately that was the direction Mr. Urban was headed for so they collided. The driver of course wasn't hurt; however, Mr. Urban was very badly bruised. Another sad thing was that he didn't have any close friends or relatives to tend to him at that time. Luckily though, the Baptist Minister, Reverend White kindly offered to put him up for the night. After that he returned to his own home. A few days later, Mr. Glaves put his hand on Paul's shoulder and said, "We collected a little money because we like you a great deal and we would be very happy to have you settle down here in our village." After this very amiable invitation he could only see fit as to carry on his life and business in this small but very hospitable community of Scotland. Mr. Urban has spent 48 happy and productive years here.