Interview with Cecil Root, September 20, 2010

Cecil Root.jpg


Interview with Cecil Root, September 20, 2010


Oral history interview with Cecil Root, who has lived in or near to Deseronto, Ontario, most of his life.


Cecil Root


September 20, 2010






1 hour, 2 minutes, 2 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbit/s


Edgar Tumak
Amanda Hill


Cecil Root


Deseronto Public Library

Time Summary

0.0 Cecil born in 1924 in Oshawa, at the start of the Depression. His father was working for General Motors, but his hours were cut so much that he moved to Deseronto to try farming, when Cecil was four or five years old. They moved to a 22 acre farm at Maple Avenue. He did deliveries with Ed Roach, the butcher, with a team of horses, then moved to a 43 acre farm on the Boundary Road, south of the CN railway line, north of Deseronto, to another farm.
2.07 Remembering the birth of his brother, George and other siblings, Eric and Mary
3.16 Trading the house in Maple Avenue for the 43 acre farm – which was near to Deseronto Junction station, when the railway was still running. Previously owned by John Kitchen. Cecil's father [William] Put new roofs on the barn and house, borrowing money from George van der Water of Deseronto in order to pay for it. Was hard to pay the money back.
6.12 Went to Mount Pleasant School (S.S. 3, Richmond), between the ages of 7 and 12. Left when he was tall enough to harness the horses. Not enough money in the family for Cecil to attend High School.
7.34 Cecil worked on the farm. Remembering the first day he made a dollar: from Bob Rennie on Highway 2, stooking 22 acres of grain in a day. He worked for Edgar Burley in the grist mill in Deseronto (now Hudson's Mill) and at the livery stables.
9.45 Girlfriend was a telephone operator at Malley's store in Main Street. Married when he was 19 and she was 18 (in 1943), at the Presbyterian church. She was a French woman, who lived in Mill Street. Her father was caretaker of the High School – Thomas Merry. Her mother was only 15 years older than her daughter. They originally came from Northern Ontario. His wife (Germaine) died in 1992.
13.00 Cecil took milk to Shannonville – to the cheese factory at Mountain Chase, for John Blewitt which closed in 1952.
14.55 Cecil's mother was a Wager, which is why the family came back to Deseronto during the Depression (she was one of eight children). Her uncle, Cecil, died in North Dakota of typhoid fever, and her father followed him and also died of typhoid, when his mother was 12. Her mother had a small farm in Maple Avenue in Deseronto. Cecil's father originally came from Catchacoma, north of Peterborough. He drove a horse to Deseronto/Napanee. Cecil remembers a horse at the farm, Bessie, having to be shot, after it was kicked by the horse from Catchacoma.
18.30 Cecil bought his 50 acre farm in 1943 for $2,750, taking over a mortgage from his father. The farm on Maple Avenue was next to Mrs Burnup's house. The farm was later bought by Mrs Cranston, who sold unpasteurized 'milk for cats and dogs' in Deseronto. The two dairies in town were run by the Moons and Rendells. There was a lot of brucellosis in cattle at the time.
21.20 Location of the farm – to the west of Finglands Lane. A big white frame house.
22.40 Rathbuns had left the town by the time the Root family came here. Nora Rathbun was the only one left. Cecil's father (William) built his house on Thomas/Centre, buying the lot from the town for $15. If the lots weren't on the sewer, they only cost $10. William worked at Canada Zyl.
24.35 Cecil worked in Napanee at Lenadco for 19 years.
25.00 Discussion about churches – the gospel hall didn't have an ordained minister, so Cecil got married through the Presbyterian church.
26.00 Stores in Deseronto: five grocery stores – Arthur Rendell, Therrien's, Stover and Sager, Newman's on the Highway. Undertaker's, furniture store on St. George Street. Wagers and Asaltines were Cecil's family. Cora Mason owned a dry goods store. She lived in the Dryden house (now the McGlade funeral home). Hudson's mill had a big shed for horses.
28.58 On April 23rd, when Cecil was 15, he shovelled snow on the Boundary Road for 15 cents an hour, for the County. The Marysville side road was shovelled at 10 cents an hour, for welfare.
30.00 Don Dawson owned a garage and showroom in the town – where Cecil saw his first television – a Marconi – they had trouble getting a picture on it). There was no electricity at Cecil's house, because the war had stopped the installation of hydro. There is an oil pipeline across Cecil's property, six feet deep, all dug by hand. The contractor was Mr Belch. Cecil got work digging the trench and used the money to buy his first television, sometime in the 1950s.
35.00 Talking about George, Cecil's brother, working at the Ideal Vendors
35.21 Television programs: Jackie Gleason, Jimmy Durante, Ed Sullivan, western shows, all US shows, nothing Canadian. Farm program on the radio at 12.45.
37.15 Cecil has been retired for 26 years. He drove snowploughs for Richmond township from 1963 to 1971, then for the Lenadco seniors' home in Napanee.
38.50 The grist mill was used to grind grain to feed animals – Cecil worked there for Mr Burley, then for John Clark, who had the mail route RR#1 around Deseronto, in his Model A Ford. Cecil watched the mill while Clark did the mail. After Clark, the mill was owned by Roger Blewitt and Cecil worked part-time for him.
40.10 The canning factory was an important business in the town. Cecil's wife picked the tomatoes and Cecil drove them to the canning factory in the 1940s. Then he took milk from Deseronto to Shannonville for Blewitt.
41.30 The grist mill's last owners were Al Harris and his wife. Arnold Hudson owned the mill after Blewitt.
44.50 Entertainment – played euchre and had square dances, played mouth organ. His sister's husband played the violin and George played the guitar. Came into Deseronto daily.
46.46 Neighbours bought the farm from Cecil
47.11 First car – 1927 Chevrolet, bought from Archie Burley for $50, from his garage opposite the Catholic church on the Highway, when he was 16. Had a Model A Ford in 1943 when he got married.
49.20 Eric and Cecil went to an auction sale and bought a 1926/1927 Model T Ford truck for $11. They ruined it, but Cecil wishes they'd kept it. Cecil didn't like shooting things – has shot one rabbit and one duck in his life, but Eric drove the van round the field until it ran out of gas and then shot it full of holes.
51.55 There was a swimming hole in the creek, with a rope hanging down from an elm tree, where the children used to play. The water was clean then and there were many fish in it. It's not clean now.
53.15 Cecil's children went to school in Deseronto. One daughter worked at Ideal Vendors and now lives in London, the other lives in Belleville. His son was born in 1952 and went to school in Napanee and then to Loyalist College in Belleville. Then he worked for Bell. His children are all in the restaurant business. No family still in Deseronto.
57.16 Cecil got his first telephone when he was working for Harold Lasher in Napanee at the feed mill in the 1950s. Harold helped him get a phone so that he could call Cecil when he need him. It was a party line with 11 people on it. Everybody listened – no use saying anything private on there, but if there was a fire or emergency, then everyone would help. Cecil worried that he'd sound like Uncle Josh – talking about victrolas, gramophone records and wax cylinders.