William Grantham
First name William
Last name Grantham
Age 83
Date of birth December 9, 1896
Community Oakland

This home once belonged to William Grantham; it later belonged to Joe Keresturi Sr.


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 Duane Brandow and Jane Shaver interviewing Mr. Grantham at the John Noble Home In Brantford, Ontario, July 2 1980.

Duane: Mr. Grantham, could you tell me when and where you were born?

Mr. Grantham: I was born in Kent County, up near Wheatley and Leemington and Tillburry and all the little towns around there. I was born in a little place called Blytheswood.

Duane: Do you know when?

Mr. Grantham: Well, I always thought I did. (laughter) I was born December 9th, 1896.

Duane: What was the community like that year?

Mr. Grantham: That year. Can't remember that. (laughs)

Duane: When exactly did you move around the Oakland Township area?

Mr. Grantham: Oh. In 1911.

Duane: Did you ever go to school around Oakland?

Mr. Grantham: No. I finished my school at Wheatly. Well, I said I finished my school. I finished public school and tried my entrance up there. And then I come down here and the teacher at Burtch—a little village out—do you know where Burtch is? That's where we settled there. It was a man teacher at the Burtch School and he was— taught a fifth class, that year. What I mean by fifth class, fourth or senior was at the end of public school. But he taught this fifth class with the same think as the first course of high school. First year in high school. But I can't remember anything about that. Only that I went there, to Burtch school, that year, 1911, and that was when I was finished school there.

Duane: Do you remember anything about the school?

Mr. Grantham: Well, it still sits there. I don't know whether they have school there now or not. I know the school house was taken over by the Township as a Community Centre, you see, and I don't know....They have parties there and you know, they like any place, any village or a town that have a Community Hall and that's what that was. They give the Township an option on the school— if they wanted to buy it for that purpose—for a dollar.

Duane: A dollar, is that all? That wasn't very much.

Mr. Grantham: Oh, I don't know whether it was a dollar. But the option was there and it was a small one. But anyway, that was in 1911.

Duane: That's quite a long time ago. What was your occupation when you...?

Mr. Grantham: Well, I was a farmer's son and I got silly in 1921 and got married.

Duane: Who'd you get married to? What was your wife's name?

Mr. Grantham: Her name was Milly Edy.

Duane: How many children did you have?

Mr. Grantham: Three.

Duane: Could you tell me their names?

Mr. Grantham: Mabel, and Donald and Howard.

Duane: Do you remember when they were born?

Mr. Grantham: Mabel was born on December 30, 1922, I think it was. Donald was next born. He's a Yankee. Was born on the 4th of July. He'll be having a birthday day after tomorrow. And Howard was born the 25th of April and I don't know what year, that was. I forget now.

Duane: Could you tell me about your mother and father or your brothers and sifters?

Mr. Grantham: Well, I had one brother and two sisters. My brother's name in—he liven in Brantford. He'd be more good to you than I am I guess. He's quite a nut about this here ancestors and all, family trees and all that. But his name is Allan and he was born on the 11th of June, 1900.

Duane: Oh yeah, so he's 80 then.

Mr. Grantham: My oldest sister, Nellie, was born on February 9th, 1902 and my youngest sister was born in August 23, 1905-That was the size of my family.

Duane: Could you tell me your mother or father's names?

Mr. Grantham: My mother's name was Ellen Franklin.

Duane: And what was your...

Mr. Grantham: My dad's name was George Grantham.

Duane: Were they farmers also?

Mr. Grantham: Yes.

Duane: So you were never in Oakland Township then?

Mr. Grantham: Not to live there, no.

Duane: Right. You were just like on the outskirts.

Mr. Grantham: No. It was about five miles from where I lived.

Duane: When you were smaller—could you remember any special things that happened in Burtch? Around the area.

Mr. Grantham: Well, I don't know just what you're...

Duane: Like house parties or garden parties?

Mr. Grantham: Oh yes. Used to always be a garden party at Oakland.

Duane: Did you ever go to any of the garden parties in Oakland?

Mr. Grantham: Oh yes. I think the last one I went to—they were always on the 24th of May—but they don't hold them anymore.

Duane: No. Do you remember whereabouts in Oakland it was?

Mr. Grantham: Yes. The garden Oakland United Church Hall, In them days they drove horses to school and Church. They didn't have cars.

Duane: What exactly did you do at the garden parties?

Mr. Grantham: Oh we'd just have it up there and have our tables set for 150 or 200 or more or whatever they figured they'd get. It was quite a good sized affaMr. And we went and sit down at the tables. Oh, big long tables, like for thrashers and more than thrashers, but it was a big table and set and pretty well take up the whole hall. Hall was a drive shed where we held it. But they... And then after the supper was over why they had a program. They always hired some soreign—out of town company to put on the program.

Duane: Do you remember any of the companies that might have been there?

Mr. Grantham: No.

Duane: No. So then you just listened to the program they put on? Did the local people ever do anything

Mr. Grantham: Well, yes. There was a local quartet, that put on the programs—sing songs, you know. They were good too, Four men an organist or what ever they had. It'd be an organ them days. They just sang songs and one tried to be a comedian and act silly, you know. (laughs)

Duane: So, did they ever get the audience involved?

Mr. Grantham: Well, the people were there to get a feed and listen to a program—that was their idea.

Duane: Do you remember anything else that might have happened around the Oakland area?

Mr. Grantham: Oh, there was [pause] just every day farm life, that's all there was. There wasn't much to it.

Duane: Do you remember what kind of farm land it was?

Mr. Grantham: Farming? Mixed farming—a little bit of everything. The first year when I got married, I say 21, why I bought a little farm next to my parents. And I had a —it was a light soil, good for gardening and that and I worked at that (pause) market gardening. Grow all sorts of vegetables and take then) to market.

Duane: So where was the market? Did you have to come to Brantford?

Mr. Grantham: Brantford Market.

Duane: Is it the same market that they're running in downtown Brantford now.

Mr. Grantham: No not the, the one up on the corner of Colborne and Market. What used to be the market. That was the market than. All the area [farmers] went there with every thing, anything they wanted to sell.

Duane: So, do the farmers have to take turns going to the market or...?

Mr. Grantham: No. They had a stall rented for the season. When we'd come to town we'd bring our load and stuff in there and stand on the market and sell it.

Duane: How did you get your produce from the Burtch area to Brantford? Was it by horse or did you have the train?

Mr. Grantham: How did you get it from where to Brantford?

Duane: From where you were living.

Mr. Grantham: Team of horses and a democrat.

Duane: Is a democrat a type of wagon?

Mr. Grantham: It's a light wagon.

Duane: How were the roads coming from Brantford? Were they bad?

Mr. Grantham: Oh, gravel roads. Yeah.

Duane: You were raising a family during the Depression times. Could you describe how life was then? During the Depression? The kind of stuff you had to do to save money?

Mr. Grantham: Well, I wish my daughter was here—she quite—well remembers the depression and my oldest boy would remember a little of it. The younger boy wouldn't remember any of it. Thank goodness.

Duane: Could you tell us how you spent some of the holidays, like Christmas?

Mr. Grantham: You mean...

Jane: Well anytime. It doesn't matter what year. Did you do anything special at Christmas. Like Christmas concerts at the church or anything like that?

Mr. Grantham: Everybody had concerts and would go around—like at Oakland garden parties or other places. At Christmas they had family gatherings. Families gathered together and spend Christmas.

Duane: How about Easter? Did you do anything special or was it just family gathering?

Mr. Grantham: Easter? Oh, Easter was always—gather all the eggs you could ret and paint them or fix them up and that was the big thing, to have eggs on Easter.

Duane: Did you ever do anything on July 1st?

Mr. Grantham: It was just a holiday. Same as it is now.

Jane: Did you have fireworks?

Mr. Grantham: Oh yes, we had firecrackers and fire...sometimes in the city here, like they did last year (1979)- Do you remember? What time was it they had the fireworks in Brantford?

Duane: I don't remember.

Mr. Grantham: It was like that. They had fireworks. A lot of rockets and one thing and another.

Duane: How about Victoria Day? That was the day of the garden parties.

Mr. Grantham: 24th of May. Well it was just practically the same as it is now. Only then. I guess maybe in them days it was celebrated a little maybe in them days it was celebrated a little more than it is today..

Duane: How about Thanksgiving?

Mr. Grantham: Oh, well just the same as it is now. On the holiday for the kids we'd try to have a turkey or some kind of fowl for Thanksgiving.

Duane: Where exactly did you go shopping? What kind of shopping was there in the area?

Mr. Grantham: Shopping, There was a little place—well, Mt. Pleasant got a store, that's all. Where we live now there's two stores and—just go there and get what you wanted. If you couldn't get it there you'd go to town and get it.

Duane: Do you remember anything about the Wars, first or Second World Wars.

Mr. Grantham: The wars? I served in the First World War for about two years.

Duane: Were you just a regular soldier?

Mr. Grantham: Yes, I was a soldier.

Duane: Where were you first stationed?

Mr. Grantham: Well we first joined up at Brantford, we signed up, and they sent us down to the Battalion that went from around these parts. Was 59 draft they called it. And when we went overseas, I was put in—went with the 4th Battalion Medical Corps. And I was thankful that I never had to go to France to fight. I was all finished training but I got sick and couldn't go and do anything so my Battalion went over for about a month or so and left me back in England, because I wasn't in shape to travel. Now, I didn't see any of the active service. The war was over before I got around to it. I was very thankful for that.

Duane: So you never fought in the Second World War? Could you remember what it was like around here when the Second World War was on?

Mr. Grantham: Oh, I can remember my oldest boy joined the Air Force. After the Second World War was over, then they had different projects. And he went out to British Columbia and up to Dawson City and they built a telephone line up through there. Never had any "before that. They sent him and another bunch of the troops up there and any person who had any experience climbing and working at electric work. They got sent up there to work on it. That's where he went. My son-in-law, he joined the Air Force as a—he never seen any action, real active service. They seen some but not the real hard part of it.

Duane: Would you like to say anything else about the changes that you've noticed around this area, or anything like that?

Mr. Grantham: Don't bring anything to mind just at the present.

Duane: Any setbacks or advances?

Mr. Grantham: Setbacks? Yeah, When I first started in farming I had to have some cattle, I bought some here and there. I bought two cows, and I got two more and I had to get —it was right at the time when cows were a good price. I had to pay a hundred dollars a piece for them. And before the year was up I couldn't get a hundred dollars for both of them.

Duane: So this is when you first bought your farm, that this happened?

Mr. Grantham: No, when I was on the farm. When I first went on the farm—1921. One year, my brother-in-law had a big crop of wheat and wheat, ordinary was a good paying proposition, But the price was no good this year— couldn't get much for wheat. So, he thought, "Well I'll get my money out of the wheat another way. I'll feed it a bunch /of hogs/17 He had a big bunch of hogs and he fed them up that whole crop of wheat before the spring. When they were ready to go to market...And the price of pork dropped from—why he'd sold all his wheat or, fed it all to the pigs and the price of pork went down to two cents a pound on the hoof, and the price of wheat went up. Wheat was gone and all he had was the pigs to show. You imagine what a loss that was. But I know he had about twelve hundred bushel of wheat and that means a lot of money. A lot more in them days. But that's another drawback. The prices are up and clown and you had to figure out what to do for the best.

Duane: You have to be able to read the future. Look at the markets. Was there anything else you'd like to tell us?

Jane: Did you have a radio?

Mr. Grantham: There never was. I never heard tell of one until I was-I don't know just when they started-but there was no radio in them days. All we had was an old phonograph. Played records.

Duane: What kind of records did you have?

Mr. Grantham: Records? The first ones was a disk. About the size of a pop can. A round disk which fit on the arm of the thing and it-the meddle and speaker—you'd turn it on that and then follow it around and play the whole...

Duane: So what kind of music was on that disk?

Mr. Grantham: Anything at all. Old time songs and I just got rid of the last one I had. I guess I'd be—I don't know what year it would be, but we kept it till last Saturday (June 28). Week ago Saturday the family gathered up everything and had an auction sale. Sold all the stuff I had—mostly all the furniture, What the family didn't take, why we had the sale and sold it.


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