Reta Malcolm
First name Reta
Last name Malcolm
Age 80
Date of birth January 1, 1900
Community Oakland, Scotland

Mrs. Malcolm 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 Joanne Vamos interviewing Mrs. Reta Malcolm at her home in Scotland, Ontario, June 18, 1980.

Joanne: Mrs. Malcolm, what is it like to be a part of the first people—pioneer family in Scotland? You must be very proud of your ancestors.

Mrs. Malcolm: Well I am proud of marrying into the Malcolm family. And hearing about its history.

Joanne: How are you related to the Malcolm Family? Who was your husband?

Mrs. Malcolm: I married Clarence Malcolm, and his great-great-grand-father was the first settler in Scotland. He built, as I understand, the first home. It's the home that has recently been occupied by Mrs. E. E. Smith. There have been two families living there since but I don't know their names.

Joanne: Who were you before you were married?

Mrs. Malcolm: My name was Reta Roberts, I came from Grey County, north of Mount Forest, and I came down in 1924 to teach. After teaching here three years and a half I married Mr. Malcolm and lived with the Malcolms.

Joanne: So, you were talking before about the farm, you married Mr. Malcolm, and did you live on the farm?

Mrs. Malcolm: His father was living on the farm and had been for years. And the first four years of owe marriage we lived in Scotland and Clarence went back and forth. And then at the end of the four years his father had built a home in Scotland and he moved to that home and we moved to the farm. It had been in the family for so long.

Joanne: What was it like—the farm?

Mrs. Malcolm: Well, when we lived there it was quite a modern farm, it had been improved through the years with three or four generations had built it up.

Joanne: That would be around...

Mrs. Malcolm: 1931—So that's when we went out there...

Joanne: 1931—So that's when...

Mrs. Malcolm: When the Depression started.

Joanne: Did that—did the Depression affect you at all?

Mrs. Malcolm: Oh yes, because two families were getting their living off a hundred acres and prices went down immediately after we went out to the farm, but we had our own butter and eggs, meat and vegetables so that helped a great deal.

Joanne: So, after the Depression, then, the World War—was coming on—how did that affect you, did your husband or any relatives have to go off and fight in the war.

Mrs. Malcolm: No, there weren't any. My husband by this time was too old and there weren't any nephews.

Joanne: O.K. so, you were born in Grey County. You moved here first when you were a teenager? -20 years old.

Mrs. Malcolm: Oh no, I'd been teaching, I'd been teaching, in three schools before that. I was 24 when I came.

Joanne: So, what was it like here when you first came. What did you think about Scotland? small town?

Mrs. Malcolm: I thought it was a pretty village. Some years before I had been with friends and we drove from Waterford to Norwich. We went past the school and I said some day I would like to teach here. And I had been teaching in the country, in rural schools for six years and I thought I'd like to teach in a two room school. So I applied for three schools and Scotland was the only one answered and so I applied for the principalship here and got it. Mr. Halliday, who was Charlie Hunter's grandfather was the secretary and, in the conversation over the phone and in letters I found out I was coming to a new school. I was so pleased about that.

Joanne: What school's were you teaching at?

Mrs. Malcolm: Well, they called it S.S.#18 Burford and number S.S.#3 Oakland, and it's the school that's demolished. Was it four years ago, five...

Jane: (Nod yes) Yes, it's the one where the new school is now.

Joanne: So since you were the teacher you probably remember a lot of the different students—is there anybody that sticks out in your mind that maybe you could tell us about that's still around here.

Mrs. Malcolm: I had six pupils in my first entrance class and Mrs. Bruce Welsh of Scotland, Miss Edna Woodley of Hamilton and Mrs. Valera Baker of Ridgeway are all surviving. There were three boys but they've been gone some years. In the second entrance class among the ones surviving, Mrs. Anne Kemp and Mrs. Lock of Brantford—I just don't recall the others right now.

Joanne: Okay, I'll just move down here on my questions. You belong to one of the congregations in Scotland. Well, I was just wondering what were Sundays like back, back a long, like when you were first here. I know Sundays have changed things that we do. What kinds of things did you used to do, on Sundays, picnics and stuff like that?

Mrs. Malcolm: Well when I came here, I boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Foster that's Mirian's mother and father and I asked about the churches and he said they had two churches here, a Congregational and a Baptist and I was a Methodist. So, he said, I think that the Methodist Congregational is more like the Congregational is. So I decided to go to the Congregational Church. And the following year there was Church Union. So I continued to go there, well on Sundays, I believe at that time I went to Sunday School and taught a class for awhile, and went to church; in the afternoons I think we went for a walk and in the evening, there was an evening service if you cared to go. I don't recall what else. We wrote letters.

Jane: Did they have school picnics, like Sunday School picnics?

Mrs. Malcolm: Well, I'd be away on the holidays when they had them. I was at some after I was married. They continued them. Sometimes at Dover and once at Woodstock. But years and years ago I've heard my husband telling that they had them up in the Grove, behind Mrs. Smith's farm.

Jane: Would that be where Mrs. Takacs lives now?

Mrs. Malcolm: Yes. They had a lot of large picnics there. But that was years before I came along.

Joanne: Do you remember any kinds of clubs or organizations that were in Scotland that maybe you were part of or not necessarily part of? I know there was a Drama Club. That might have been a long time ago. But they used to put on plays all the time. Do you ever remember anything like that or go to any plays?

Mrs. Malcolm: Yes, I didn't take part in them but one year I was prompting the cast. My brother-in-law Wilfred, was in various plays. He was very good at it. But that is Before I came around. There was quite an active library board. They had socials and I remember once they had a pancake Supper.

Joanne: There's probably been an awful lot of changes in Scotland since you've come here. Is there any that stand out in your mind. Maybe your opinions. There's been fires and torn down buildings and things. Is there anything you can think of?

Mrs. Malcolm: When I came here there was a Band Stand at the intersection of Talbot Road and Simcoe Road, and uh, Saturday evenings and some other evenings they had a band playing, a local band, and it was interesting. You go in to shop and hear the music.

Mrs. Malcolm: Could you repeat your question I just forgot what it was.

Joanne: Just, what other changes, the buildings...

Mrs. Malcolm: There was a huge (uh) a large hotel for a place this size on the corner of Oakland and Simcoe. It was burned down but I don't recall the year.

Joanne: Was there paved roads back then?

Mrs. Malcolm: Oh no, all roads were gravel and I think it would be only ten years, eleven, since this paved road was put out here. Yes, we didn't have paved roads before then, or curbs.

Joanne: It must have been something when it changed over.

Mrs. Malcolm: They were smooth gravel roads fairly well kept up.

Joanne: How did you spend you special holidays, say Christmas or Thanksgiving and even Hallowe'en. What was Christmas like for you back then or even now?

Mrs. Malcolm: Well, I was usually with my own family at Christmas time and it was rather quiet as I recall we always had someone that was living alone or some relative—I don't have brothers and sisters, so our Christmases were rather quiet, but they were nice. I had a livelier Christmas after I came to Scotland because my husband's family had a gathering and they wore usually a dozen at it.

Joanne: So you had big Christmas dinner?

Mrs. Malcolm: Big Christmas dinner, yes. And the house was decorated.

Joanne: What about Victoria Day? Was there ever anything like a big splashy event with firecrackers?

Mrs. Malcolm: I don't recall. We could celebrate Empire Day at the school the day before Victoria Day.

Joanne: Did you ever do anything special on Thanksgiving?

Mrs. Malcolm: I can't recall that I did.—unless have a dinner somewhere.

Joanne: What about July first?

Mrs. Malcolm: Well, I think I just go home for the summer at that period and there might have been a little celebration on the street. I don't recall.

Joanne: You've mentioned the hotels; what kind of stores were there? Where did you do your shopping?

Mrs. Malcolm: Well, through the years we patronized the local stores more than we did the Brantford stores, that is for groceries. There were three general stores here when I came. On at the corner and the post office was also in that building. Mr. Hooker owned it. Then there was one, it was a red brick building that has been demolished recently and that was like a departmental store. There were 3 divisions to it. The store that Huggins operate was in good repair when I came and it's very much the same now. Very little alteration.

Joanne: I know that you were married here and probably had your courtship here and stuff like that. It's kind of interesting to maybe find our what, what kind of things did you do. I know we go to movies and out and things like that. What did you do when you were first getting to know each other?

Mrs. Malcolm: We uh, did quite a bit of walking. Walk up different directions around the village. We seemed to enjoy that. But my husband had a car and we sometimes we went for short drives, and uh, occasionally he took me out to dinner in Brantford and occasionally to the show, not often, he was a busy man.

Joanne: What was your husband like? I don't know hem personally. I never knew what he looked like. What did he look like?

Mrs. Malcolm: Well, I thought he was quite attractive (Big smile) and uh, he was very even tempered and considerate and we had a very happy marriage, but he was reserved, rather reserved and enjoyed the farm life very much. Very interested in the birds too, and the surroundings of the farm.

Joanne: Did you have any children?

Mrs. Malcolm: No, no we didn't have a family. We had two nieces. He had two brothers and each one had a daughter.

Mrs. Malcolm had kindly written down some points ahead of time that she thought we would be interested in. Many points are covered in the previous interview. However, we feel the following information is vital.

I came to Scotland in September 1924, and the school board here had advertised for teachers as they did then and as I had been teaching in rural schools I had hoped to get a school—be in a school with two rooms; and uh, I made three applications and Scotland was the only one that replied. So I accepted their offer. Mr. Halliday who was the Grandfather of Charlie Hunter was the secretary at that time. He informed me that there was a school being built and when I came to Scotland I found that Mr. Foster, Mr. Herbert Foster, and Mr. John Silverthorn were the other trustees. Four months after I came Mr. Kaufman became the principal of the Continuation School here.

I had lived up in Grey County and I found when I came to Scotland I had to go on the train on the Grand Trunk Railway to Brantford and then when I got to Brantford I changed to the T.H. & B Railway to get to Scotland. And on this train there were three other girls and I was wondering which one of those girls would be my assistant because we were coming out on the Saturday before school opened. When we got off the train Horace Poster was there to meet us because we were going to board at his home. The one girl that got off was Miss Helen Clemens of Brantford and we made each other acquainted and we've been friends ever since.

When I became adjusted I enquired about the churches and found that there was a Baptist Church and a Congregational Church. I decided to go to the Congregational Church and I found that the next year, 1925, it became part of the United Church.

When I came to Scotland I was disappointed there wasn't any electricity in the village because in our village we had it. But anyway it came in the next year.

There were three general stores and the community, the rural community seemed to have general farming. The Hunter Lumber Company was operated, it was operating. It had been um—It had been going for about three years. The Post Office was in the general—in the corner store. Mr. Hooker owned it and Mr. Beemer helped in the Post Office. The library was next to the Culbert farm. At that time the Culberts owned it. It has been recently owned for many years by Mr. & Mrs. Ernest Smith.

The roads wore gravel roads as most villages had at that time. There was a Gore formed by the Talbot Road and the Simcoe Road. In summer evenings it was very nice to listen to the band in the bandstand that was-had been built there. There were several outdoor rinks during the years. One was at the back of Mrs. Vandusen's property and another one was east of Mrs. Bushes property; but they uh, couldn't be operated for too long because the weather was milder here.

Across from where I live now there was quite an acreage of dahlia plants and they were very attractive to see. Across from the Masonic Hall there was a harness shop operated by Mr. Halliday. They kept farmer's supplies as well because this was quite an agricultural community. There was a hotel on the main corner.

During the first year I and six in my entrance class, one, the three surviving ones are: Mrs. Bruce Welsh, Miss Edna Woodley and Mrs. Valera Baker. In the Junior Fourth the three names I recall are Fred Glaves, Mrs. Anne Kemp and Mrs. Harry Lock.

After enjoying my work very much for three years and a half, I resigned in 1927 and married Clarence Malcolm and went out to live with him on the farm, a mile and half south of Scotland.

Joanne: Okay.

Mrs. Malcolm: Well, I thought there were a few things in there that maybe...

Joanne: Oh, that's really great. It was a dairy farm?

Mrs. Malcolm: Well it was general. Do you want me to read you what I wrote?

Joanne: Sure.

History of Lot 2 Con. 1

After the United States of America declared their independence from Great Britain in 1776 many loyalists came to Canada. Among these was Finlay Malcolm and his family who had lived on Long Island and in Maine. He made his way to Canada in 1783 settling at St. Andrews, New Brunswick where he lived for fifteen years and sailed on a trading vessel. Hearing of the fertility of Upper Canada he set out by way of the Gulf and River St. Lawrence to the new lands. He probably landed at either Newark or Burlington, then made his way to Oakland whore he lived three or four years. Here he established two mills.

Two of his sons John and Finlay married and settled there, The father moved to the farm in Scotland recently owned by Mrs. C.S. Smith, which became the family homestead for the remaining thirteen children. The sons soon had farms in the area, as well as three other mills, and the place was called Malcolm's Mills.

A son, Eliakim, had received a good education for that period. He was known as a clever and just man but stern. He surveyed much of the township of Oakland and became magistrate. For his work of surveying he was given by the Crown, the deed to his farm of 100 acres. The land had not been cleared as it was set aside for the Clergy Reserves.

Later he acquired the 'homestead' from his brother George and in all owned 700 acres of land. He lost most of his holdings after the rebellion of 1837 in which he and his brothers were very active on the side of the Reformers. He was in the States two years before being pardoned for opposing the government.

When their son Jonathan was married about 1849 he took his bride Deborah Moore to this farm and in 1860 bought it from his father for $2000 two days before his son John was born. At that time the farm was covered with trees, only one field cleared. From the Simcoe road there was only a lane to reach the new farm but on October 7, 1857 for the sum of 10 pounds a strip of land was bought from Duncan Malcolm extending to the line of the Township of Townsend. This was made into a road 5 links wide. The deed was signed by Peter I. Smith. The road was extended later to the railway tracks, and still later to the Waterford Road /old 24/. In 1889 a slight changed in the farm's east boundary was made so that the railway formed the line.

Jonathan improved the property by blearing the land, building the first house and barn, raising a family of eight children. When his wife died he married Mrs. George Malcolm who survived him.

After Jonathan's death in 1904 his son John bought the farm, moving there with his wife Lenora Moore and their four children, Wilfred, Albert, Clarence and Hattie.

John built the present brick house in 1908 and improved the barns and fences. He also took pride in preserving seven acres of woods which was spared earlier. In 1931 his son Clarence took over the management of the farm, the last one owned and operated by a Malcolm. The farm is a sandy loam, sloping south and east.

Because of poor health Clarence sold the farm in 1961 to Thomas Arthur, a neighbour, who has made various improvements. Clarence and his wife Reta Roberts Malcolm moved to a new home in Scotland. Looking to the south east from it a view of the wood lot can be seen.


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