Interview with Don Fingland, October 27, 2010

Don Fingland.jpg


Interview with Don Fingland, October 27, 2010


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


October 27, 2010




1 hour, 11 minutes, 51 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbit/s


Edgar Tumak
Amanda Hill


Don Fingland


Deseronto Public Library

Time Summary

Part one:
0.0 Born on a farm west of Enterprise in 1930. Moved April 1, 1938 to his current farm Deseronto. No electricity in the farm in Enterprise until 1937. Fred Perry, an entrepreneur owned the farm, which was run by his son, Hugh. Fingland family took over the farm. It didn't have any electricity. Mr Fingland senior dug the holes and put in the poles and agreed with the Town's Reeve, Mr Kirby and Stan Hughes, the foreman of the utilities that they would put in the wires down Finglands Lane. Only dug wells – took the cows up to the creek to drink. Had to bring them down into town to drink from water troughs by the Public School, seven or eight at a time.
3.54 House and barns built by the Rathbun family. The main house burnt down in around 1906. The Moon family owned it in the First World War. Had to cut down some of the trees at the lower end of the lane when they built the airport at Camp Rathbun. Story about the German spy who was caught interfering with the wires on the aircraft, causing them to crash. He was shot at the quarry and buried there.
7.00 Cecil used to cut ice out of the bay. Archie Burley had a coal yard down by the bay.
7.55 The farm was an experimental farm under the Rathbuns. Bob Moon had a dairy in Deseronto and a large family – they owned the farm during the First World War. The Finglands have been there for 72 years. The current house and barns were in poor shape when they moved in, so they hired Hiram Barnhart (who lived on the Reserve) to fix them up and put new cedar siding on the house
10.40 Had as many as 50 cows and as much as 20 acres of tomatoes, growing them for canneries Deseronto, Shannonville and Canada Packers in Belleville. The Metcalfe cannery in Deseronto could process 400 bushels of tomatoes an hour: four men working continually. John Baer was the popular canning variety of tomato in the early years, followed by Clark's Early. Fred Powell ran the show – very good at growing tomato plants – farmers would be lining up with their wagons on May 24 to collect their plant. They were grown in hot beds. Lots of people involved in the picking of the crop later on.
13.45 Woodcock family, tenants of the Finglands, had a big garden and would grow all their food for the winter. Farmers would be lined up to offload their tomatoes, but they could be rejected if they were not of a good enough quality. The hot beds would be covered with hay at night. Thirty or forty peelers were employed at the canning factory and at least a hundred in all at the tomato plant. Alice Brant picked tomatoes for the Finglands, and would bring up her family to help if there was going to be a frost. Took two to three weeks to get all the tomatoes planted at the farm.
17.25 Canning factory photograph – memories of Cribby Blake, who appears in it. He was run over by a wagon at one point. He had four children who did very well. He babysat for the Fingland children when they first moved to Deseronto, as he didn't get on well with his wife. Norm Macmillan had the blacksmith's shop. Fred Powell was the chauffeur for Clayton Metcalfe's father and was in charge of growing the tomato plants. The factory processed peas, corn and carrots.
21.30 Farm was mainly dairy, but also grew pigs. Jerry Fox on Maple Avenue had a pig and lost it: Don invited him to his farm to see if he could identify his pig amongst the fifty or more there. They would take an old 1936 Chevrolet and fill it with eight or ten six-year-old pigs and take them to the market in Belleville to sell them for $13 a pair and come home with $75 to $80.
23.17 War changed things – for the better. Don's dad worked at the Mohawk airport as a painter – new buildings going up. The airmen were supposed to help the farmers. One called Whitey helped out on their farm. In around 1942 Don's father picked up a hitchhiker at Kingston called Jimmy King, heading for Kingsville. He'd been kicked out of the army because he was too young. Ended up staying at the farm to help out. His family was a boxing family and knew magic tricks. Malley's drugstore fixed up soda fountains and stools for the airmen.
26.31 The Sexsmith house on Highway 2 (former Rathbun property) – was divided into apartments. It had a bowling alley between it and the Wigwam. One night, Arnold Kimmerly's apartment caught fire and the bowling alley burnt down. Don helped remove furniture, but the bowling alley burnt down. Ross Sexsmith developed the area around the house – Centre Street, Maple Avenue and Stanley Street – after the war. It had been used for cattle by Harold Rathbun before that (Pat Fox and Vince Culhane mentioned in this context). Arnold Kimmerly did all the plastering for the new houses. There was a barn to the north of the Wigwam, whose foundations are still there.
31.45 Deseronto Public School: Miss Bowen, Miss Warren, Miss Hunt (grade 3 & 4), Miss Burley (grade 5), Jean Schell, Mr Nobes. Bill Schell (Jean's brother) managed the theatre [Naylor's] – Eleanor Tunnicliffe looked after the tickets and the popcorn. A good movie on Monday and Tuesdays. Amateur night and photo nights on Wednesdays and Thursdays, in the intermission. War films on Saturdays and news reels. Bill and Eleanor eloped after a movie one night (she was still quite young).
Part two:
0.0 The school had separate entrances for the boys and girls. Don's father was on the school board. The children played in the field where the current Public School is, during recess.
2.16 Don was at the High School in Deseronto through to grade 13. Mr Hough – one of the teachers at the High School – was one of the senior boys' Sunday School teacher. Mr Bowen, principal of the Public School, taught the junior boys.
3.20 Stores on St. George Street – Roach and Whitton meat store, on site of the current LCBO. Whitton family supplied the meat, Ed Roach ran the store. "Is that meat tender, Ed?" "It's as tender as a woman's heart."
4.43 Washrooms at Deseronto Public School were inside, unlike the school Don started at in Enterprise. Grades 7 and 8 went to the High School as cadets two or three times a week during the war, with High School boys as their officers. Learnt how to fire guns at the canning factory. Don had to get up early in May to help on the farm, as there was a shortage of labour during the war. In some years, the High School didn't open until October because the children were needed to work at the canning factory. One year, there was a new furnace being put into the High School and it didn't open until the end of November. Clifford Reed was principal at that time, who taught math – too quickly.
9.22 Bought groceries at Stover & Sagers (became Walker's), Ed Roach's butcher's store. Cora Mason's Five and Dime store. Chinese laundry in the same group of buildings.
10.00 Houses being torn down when the Finglands arrived in Deseronto. Hagerman's bakery. Canada Optical used to be a creamery, owned by the Therrien family. Finglands' milk used to go to a condensery in Napanee.
12.50 Farm buildings – work done by Don to improve them. No milking of cows done their now. A hostler used to live in the long barn. There were as many as 50 teams of horses there in the Rathbun days. Used to be a cottage on the lane, too. Don worked on the farm as soon as he was able to stand up. His mother had eczema on her hands. He had two brothers and a sister and was the eldest. When the Korean War started in 1950, the family bought a farm in Don's name to prevent him from being conscripted. In 1968 he went back to the family farm, which was 171 acres. The Kimmett farm was owned by the Trust and Loan Company and there was still an airstrip on the east side of the Boundary Road when the Finglands moved into their farm in 1938. There was still a hangar there, too.
22.14 Don worked at the Ideal Vendors plant one winter when they instituted a night shift, but otherwise he only worked on a farm. The Finglands originally came from Scotland and the first Fingland worked as a stonemason at Fort Henry in Kingston. His mother's family were Daveys, who were United Empire Loyalists at Bath. The Davey House (where Don's grandfather was raised) is still there, as a heritage building. The Finglands were Presbyterian, so in Enterprise they became members of the United Church when the churches merged in 1925. In Deseronto the minister was Reverend McAvoy ("as Presbyterian as you can get").
26.30 Don taught Sunday School. The United Church was full in 1940. Sunday School was held in the afternoon, taught mainly by school teachers. Don was president of the Young People's group for the district. Lots of social activity. Much fewer people attending the church now. Later on, the Sunday School was held in the morning before the church service.
31.06 The family's first car was a 1929 Chevrolet. The first new car was in 1955, bought from Archie Burley and was an automatic, sandy, with leopardskin seats. Bought a new car every five years, as they got rusty.
34.21 Used a 'cellar-away' to keep the milk cool. Other people in town used ice boxes or lowered 30-gallon cans of milk into the well to keep it cool. Put a milk-house up in 1943 or 1944, which pumped water from a well around the cans. Got electric coolers in the 1960s.