ALUMNI- IN-ACTION ORAL HISTORY
Interviewed by Murray Brown, OAC 1951
On December 01, 2005
B This is an interview with Earl McNaughton conducted by Murray Brown for the Oral
History Project of the University of Guelph Alumni Association. We’re conducting
this interview on first of December, 2005 in the home of Jean and Earl McNaughton.
Earl, I’d like to ask you first, where were you born and raised and also, a little bit
about your under-graduate education.
M I was born on a farm near Maple, and we moved off the farm very shortly afterwards.
We lived in the little village of Maple and I went to the Maple Public School and then
on to Aurora High School. In those days they didn’t have school buses, so we went
up on the train from Maple to Aurora daily for a year or so, and then we started
driving our own cars, a carload of us. Following High School at Aurora, I was
encouraged by the principal to go to the University of Toronto and take mathematics.
He thought I was pretty good in mathematics, so I majored in mathematics, physics
and chemistry, although it was mostly “m” and “p”. I graduated in 1941. Since I
graduated during the “War”, that was the time when people of my age had to go into
the services or have a pretty good reason for not doing so. The Faculty at the
University of Toronto wanted to keep me there for couple of years to teach courses in
physics and electronics to various branches of the services. I won’t go into detail –
but we had young university graduates who were going to eventually, receive a
commission in the Navy. First there was a summer course for Navy personnel, then
we taught courses for Air Force personnel. These people came in several large
groups, and as I recall they were six weeks courses, and eventually they got a little bit
longer. Out of interest there were Guelph friends, so one of these groups of courses
was held in the Physics Building at OAC. There was such a need for instructors they
sent up people from University of Toronto to teach the courses. Then there was
another course for grade thirteen students who had been recruited by the Army and
eventually to receive a commission, so we taught them a first year course in Physics
and Engineering. About the middle of the war I joined the Navy – and I was in
operational research for about two years, that got us to the end of the war in Europe.
The Navy was glad to get rid of us so they quickly sent us back to school. So, I got
back to the University of Toronto in 1945 and pursued my PhD Degree, and that was
the end of the formal education.
B So you completed your PhD at the University of Toronto in about 1948?
M Yes it was November 1948 when I finished.
B I was a student at Guelph at that time and if I recall, you came to Guelph about that
time maybe in the fall of 1948 – or later?
M Yes. I came to the Guelph Physics Department, in about November of ’48 and I
started teaching in the Winter term, and of course it was just using the course
outlines, i.e. the course schedule that was in effect. I remember having the class of
year ’49 – the graduating class in their fourth year as my first class. I suppose there
were about twenty or thirty students. It was the Chemistry and Agricultural Science
majors in their fourth year. Then I immediately started picking up other courses and
certainly the next year started teaching Calculus and some Physics courses.
B I may have been in one of your first Calculus classes?
M Well, what year and what semester would you have taken it?
B I would have taken it in the fall of 1950, in my second last semester.
M Third year. Right. That’s when Calculus was first taught. I taught that course for a
good number of years, or something similar to it.
B I remember really enjoying it, because it was my highest mark as an undergrad
student. But let me go back to your coming to Guelph. It would be Prof. Moffat that
hired you to Guelph – and was that at the time of Professor Reek or Dr. MacLachlan,
M When I came to Guelph it was Professor Bob Moffat, solely, who rounded me up.
While I was at the University of Toronto some of the young scientists in the Physics
Department established the Canadian Association of Physicists. The older Physicists
weren’t too concerned about it, but the young Physicists were thinking it was time
that they had a professional, scientific organization, and so the Association started
there. I would be a founding member of the Canadian Association of Physicists, and
certainly the graduate students that were there travelled to the various meetings. They
were held mostly in Ontario at this early stage, but later were held as far away as B.C.
Professor Moffat used to come to these meetings, certainly when they were in the
Toronto area, and that’s where I first met Professor Moffat, and I guess we were
attracted to each other. So when I finished my PhD, I promised I would come up and
talk to him. I did come directly after completing my PhD.
B Did you start teaching the Calculus course right away – for instance? And were there
any students that might have left a lasting impression on you?
M Yes the program at OAC at that time was pretty elementary mathematics. In the first
year people took algebra, trigonometry, geometry – that type of thing, and maybe
something a little bit more advanced in second year, and by third year they started to
take Calculus and by that time the students were pretty serious and I always enjoyed
working with those students. I invented a system to make them work by having a test
every Wednesday morning. And by the way, I tended to take the eight o’clock
lectures because it was a good way to get one course out of the way early, and then if
there were other things to do you had time for it. That is why I started the weekly
tests, and that worked out well. I had people that wanted to ace the course and they
would work all the problems in the textbook, i.e. many more than I assigned. One pair
of girls from microbiology – or bacteriology, I guess they called it then –used to come
in and see me quite often about four o’clock, and we’d spend a half an hour going
over their work. But by and large the students that I had to deal with were pretty
B There would be some World War II veterans in your classes, certainly up until 1951,
because I had classmates that were veterans.
M Yes, of course!
B Did these students impress you as a young faculty member, as many of these students
would be about the same age as you were? You would likely be very impressed with
M I found them very serious. And I believe that when they came to the Colleges they
had quite an impact on OAC and OVC. The people who had been running things like
the Student Administrative Council etc. would have been young people, and then all
of a sudden two or three hundred servicemen landed on campus and they knew what
they wanted to do. They were good students – worked hard – some of them had to go
back and take their elementary mathematics, before they could be admitted to the
Agriculture College. They were very good students and serious about all aspects of
B Did any of these students that you taught join the Faculty at OAC and the University
of Guelph, after completing their formal education?
M Yes Bob Gage, who graduated in OAC ’49 stayed around to undertake graduate
studies. I hired him as an instructor. We had a problem at this point in our
development as there was no graduate studies program in Physics, so we didn’t
produce graduate students to serve as demonstrators in our labs. So, our regular staff
had to demonstrate in the labs. At that time, to get students I used to go and work in
the Toronto system, where I came from, and I could easily pick up graduate students
who had finished their Masters degree, and maybe even before they were graduate
students. If they had finished their Honours degree, and they wanted to try a year or
so of teaching, I would talk them into coming to Guelph. They would work for a year
or two and then go on back to complete graduate studies or in fact some of them
landed High School teaching jobs in Ontario. Now, Bob Gage, as I mentioned,
stayed with the system and later went away to study for his PhD and came back and
became a fulltime regular Faculty member in the Physics Department. There was
another group of students in OAC ’53 as I remember- Elrick, Miller and Stinson-
who were all in the “General Science” option, and Stinson stayed at Guelph to do
graduate studies, and Miller and Elrick went of to the US and did their PhD’s and
then came back to the Soil Science Dept. here in the University. That was about the
extent of those who came back to the University, but we got a lot of people into
teaching in Ontario High Schools. A little bit later on there was a certification for
teaching certificates that was raised from a Type “A”- “Agriculture” to “Type A
Science”. This made our program even more attractive. So, there were years that we
had a fair number of students that landed up in teaching.
B Yes. And you mentioned earlier that you ended up teaching some summer courses to
older graduates, in order that they could upgrade their teaching certificate.
M Well, what was happening –OAC students that graduated in the ’50s or earlier started
teaching after attending OCE and they had a “Type A Agriculture” certificate. They
ended up teaching Science, and they were just as qualified as any other Science
teacher when they got to the school. So, they wondered – since we had arranged our
schedules to satisfy the requirement, if there was any way they could come back and
take Courses that would upgrade their certificate. So, we had special summer courses
for two or three years for former graduates, who wanted to upgrade their teaching
certificate. There was a group of maybe a dozen or so, for two or three years.
B Very interesting. How about Professors or Staff members that you encountered or
worked with, early in your career particularly. Do you recall them having a major
impact on your career? For instance, I believe you mentioned Dr. MacLachlan –
when he became President of OACin about 1950, he did a curriculum review, perhaps
one of the first reviews after the War.
M Yes. What happened I come on the scene in 1948 to the Physics Department.
Previous to about 1946, the Physics Department was not a Department. The teaching
of Physics and Mathematics was administered from the Agricultural Engineering
Department. In 1946, when William Reek was the President – he took advantage of
the opportunity – to start an upgrade of the administration at least, so the teaching of
Physics and Mathematics was moved to a seperate department called the Physics
Department, which existed for many years. Well then in ’48, when I came to the
Department, we started to upgrade the Courses – right through the whole system.
And part of this was as a result of the new President, J.D. MacLachlan – and I think
he became President in …
M So at that time, he started a whole series of reviews – particularly the schedule for the
different options in OAC, and included the courses in the first two years, that were
common to all students. It was at that time that we changed the schedule offered by
the Physics Department so that it satisfied the “Type A Science” teaching certificate.
So when MacLachlan became President, it was a great thing. He really started this
review and upgrading of Courses, right at the top level. There was an instant situation
in our Department. Professor Moffat had been teaching a Course in Statistics -which
he called “Theory of Measurement”- to all Aggies. They probably took it in third year
–maybe some students took it in fourth year – and he wanted a review of the Statistics
course, and MacLachlan named his own committee. When it came to getting a
representative from the Physics Department where the course was taught, he asked
me to serve on it. So, I got involved in this review. Anyway that committee came up
with a very good course outline for a new course in Statistics, aimed at students in
biology and agriculture Options. When the Statistics course outline was handed back
to the Physics Department to get it taught, Bob Moffat said, “I didn’t have anything to
do with it, so you’re going to teach it.” So, I got asked to teach this new course in
Statistics. I taught it for four years– and I must say, it was a very good Course. It
was really designed by people who had been graduates of OAC, and who had gone
off to the US for graduate studies, where they met this problem of having to take a
course in Statistics. They learned how important it was to them, and that it was going
to be important for people working in the agricultural and biological field in the
future, particularly for research workers. And it worked all right, so it was a very
good thing for the College that that Review got going. It happened when J.D.
MacLachlan became President in 1950.
B I took the “Theory of Measurement” course from Prof. Moffat. And when I was
taking my Masters, I did take your Statistics course, too., and so when I went to…
M Oh, you took the one that I taught.
B Yes. So, when I went to Iowa State College for my PhD, I was well grounded in
Physics and had no trouble with Physics- or with Statistics.
M Many of our graduates, who went off to the US to do graduate studies – and this
would often be young Faculty members –took a course in Calculus, and sometimes
Statistics if they hadn’t already taken it, and when they went to do their Graduate
School work, they found that it really cut a year off their time – because they could
get into graduate courses that they couldn’t have otherwise. They’d have had to take
the elementary courses first though.
B The other thing that we had an easier time with – was languages…because back in
those times you had to pass two foreign languages, and Canadians had a much easier
time with languages than the American students did.
But let me move on- do you recall anything about fellow professors or staff that had a
major impact on your career, as such? I guess perhaps you’ve just touched on that,
because you’ve mentioned Prof. Moffat and Dr. MacLachlan, so maybe I should
move on, because I know you became an administrator in the Physics area of the
University of Guelph and the Agriculture College.
M I’m wondering if I should include something first – about when I came to the
university in ’48, and the state of techniques and equipment. These things were pretty
poor in the sciences – and certainly in Physics. First of all, we didn’t have very much
space in the old red Physics Building and it was important to be able to attract people,
that we had more space. I immediately worked with the Faculty that we had here at
that time to improve the level of our Courses, especially for the third and fourth year
students, to be sure they were getting Courses that they would get in an Honours
Science programme, and eventually up to an Honours Physics programme at other
Universities. I think that I am usually credited for starting this development, i.e.
building up our standards. It was only possible to do this, by recruiting new people.
So, I would get some of our own graduate students – or even graduating students to
come and work for us for a year. I think it was probably in about 1952, when we first
had graduate students. The first graduate students that we had in the Physics
Department were Bob Gage and Bob Stinson. Stinson graduated in ’53 and started a
Masters degree as soon as he graduated. Then they continued further graduate studies
in the USA and when they completed their Ph.D. degrees, they came back and joined
our Physics department, as they were able to fit into the system. Both of these
individuals got into what you would call Biophysics. In fact, they started a division
within the department in Biophysics. And as time went on, we were able to recruit
other people. I don’t know that you’d say these people had a lot of impact on my life,
or career, but you have to recognize that when you have a building job to do, that no
one is going to do it himself. You have to hire good people. And it’s these good
people that you get in to do the job. I think that was my goal in the period when I was
Head of Physics – and that we have to remember I was also looking after
Mathematics too, and one of the characteristics new Profs. had to have, was that they
were willing to work hard at teaching, because Physics had always been, and always
will be very much a service Department to the other disciplines on campus. So, I
think that’s the impression I’d like to leave- that it’s very important to get good
people and we did get very good people that were dedicated to teaching.
B You said to me earlier, Earl, that it was difficult to hire Mathematics Faculty, when
Physics and Mathematics were just one Department especially when it was in OAC.
Maybe you’d comment on that, again?
M Yes. In the time before the Colleges became a University, the Physics and
Mathematics staff were in one Department. The Mathematics faculty in the
Department were very involved in teaching. In fact, I did more teaching in
Mathematics and Statistics than I actually did in Physics. I set up a whole long list of
courses, but it was hard to get people to come to Guelph if they could get a job some
place else. And part of the problem was that Mathematicians liked to work where
there were other Mathematicians to talk to and work with. We never got it built up to
that level, so it was really hard to find them, but we did hire some good people. It was
much easier to find people who had specialized in Physics because we had a group of
people trained in that discipline, to make it a good place to work.
B Let us go back to the time when OAC became part of the Federated Colleges. I know
you became Dean of Physical Sciences at some time, and I know some of the Faculty
in OAC became part of Wellington College. Maybe you would comment on how
Wellington College evolved into three colleges within the University of Guelph?
M Yes. Well, the University Act was signed in the Provincial Legislature in 1964. And
we really got practicing under the new University in the fall of ’65. It was at that time
when student numbers really increased. So in order to get the University underway,
they established Wellington College – and they called it Wellington College of Arts
and Science. And to provide a science core, the original Chemistry and Physics
Departments, along with the English Department were transferred to the new
Wellington College. So, all the people that were teaching in the Arts, Social Sciences
and Physical Sciences disciplines were combined into Wellington College. There
was a study of enrollments and the way things were going, it was evident from this
study that was carried out in 1969, that Wellington College was going to be a monster
compared with the founding Colleges. So, one night in Senate, without any great
debate a Committee, that was studying this issue, brought forth a recommendation
that Wellington College be split into- a College of Arts, a College of Social Science,
and a College of Physical Science. So, that’s where we got the three Colleges out of
one. And then there were a group of people in Biology who were never in
Wellington College, but were part of OAC. This group felt that they would be better
with a separate College of Biological Science. The first three Colleges got underway
on July 1st (1970?), and I think it was another six months before the Biologists in
OAC got there problems worked out and the College of Biological Science was
formed. So they’re really six months younger than the other three. (Chuckle)
B So, somewhere around 1970, there were four colleges formed----
M That’s right, and that made the seven colleges.
B So, you became Dean of the College of Physical Sciences about that time. How long
was your tenure as Dean, and do you have any interesting comments to make on that
M Yes. Well now, the first thing that should be clarified is- after Wellington College
was formed in ’65, I think it was about a year later, in ’66 that I was made Associate
Dean of Science in Wellington College. As an Associate Dean I was looking after the
Physical sciences in the College, that I mentioned before, i.e. working on budgets for
Murdo McKinnon, who was the new Dean of Wellington College. So for about three
or four years I was Associate Dean of Wellington College. As soon as I became
Associate Dean, I was doing the recruiting for the Physical Sciences and that type of
thing, and before long I figured that it was time that I should stop doing that, but as
Associate Dean, I continued to do the recruiting of Heads of Departments, but not
Staff within the Departments. So, I would have been responsible for hiring people
like Dr. Egelstaff, who was a world class physicist and was hired as Chairman of the
Physics Department. In addition, I recruited Innes MacKenzie. A funny thing
happened there! Originally, I had recruited Innes MacKenzie as a professor to come
into the Physics Department. By the time he got to the University my status had
changed, so I had decided to withdraw from being the Chairman of Physics and
asked Innes to serve as Chairman, and he said he would but for three yeas only, and
he stuck to the three years.(Chuckle) So, as an Associate Dean, I was involved in the
business of recruiting people and eventually I recruited the new Chairman of
Chemistry. R.S. Brown had been Head of Chemistry for a long time, and when he
retired, I brought in Alan Coulter. At a later stage, I brought in Janzen, and likewise I
recruited Jack MacDonald as Chairman of the Physics Department, who later became
Dean of Physical Sciences.
B Indeed, I remember when Jack MacDonald was Dean of Physical Sciences…
B …and then later became Academic Vice-president.
M That’s right. And the person who followed him was, Iain (John L.) Campbell, who
was Chairman of the Physics Department first, and then became Dean of Physical
Sciences. So – a couple of these people moved right up to be vice-presidents.
B Now, when you were Dean of Physical Sciences, you mentioned the excellent
teachers – do you recall anything about the research that was done in Physical
Sciences – because as I recall there was some excellent research that came out of that
College in those times – and of course more recently, too.
M Well, the problem we had in Physics, was that we were in the old red brick building
right up until we got the new building in ’69. We had established a need for a new
building as soon as the University was founded, and in fact before that. For several
years, before the University Act was signed, there was money in the Ontario
provincial budget for an addition to the old Physics Building. It was not big money –
a half a million dollars or something like that, but that was never acted on. When we
got to the stage of the University, the need was even greater to get some space to do
good Physics research. And so, we started to plan for a new building that was finally
occupied in the fall of ’69. We would have been planning the building for probably
four years before that, so, the building was very well planned. I get a lot of credit for
supervising that planning, but the Faculty that we had at that time – like Hunt and
Stevens, and persons like that – and there were others – so one doesn’t like to
mention names because you’re apt to leave someone out. Anyway, they worked hard
on designing a good building. And one good feature of it was that we had an
architect who had never built a science building, so he was willing to listen to us and
do what we wanted him to do, instead of him telling us what to do. So, as a result we
got a very good building and it was occupied in the fall of ’69, and then of course
after that recruitment was much easier. We were off to a good start for all the
programmes in Physical Sciences, then of course. We had Honours Physics
Programmes and we had split Mathematics off, so, it was running as a separate
Department of Mathematics and Statistics. And, I must say that during that period
– the year I became Head of the Physics Department, when Professor Moffat had
retired, I had hired Gordon Ashton, who for years, provided much help with- both
teaching the Statistics courses, and providing a consulting service for the research
workers in the other Departments, including both graduate students and Faculty in
those Departments. So a lot of credit has to go to our Statistics group for what they
B So, who followed you as Dean of the College of Physical Sciences? Was it Jack
M Yes. It was Jack MacDonald.
B And Jack MacDonald later became Vice-President Academic?
M Yes. I think he was maybe Chairman of the Department for two terms, probably.
B I guess I have to come back to your career – here. Did you then – after Jack
MacDonald became Dean- go back to teaching? Or was that getting close to your
M I went back into the Physics Department and any person returns to the Physics
Department has to do some teaching. So, I taught an Electronics course. But I didn’t
have a heavy teaching load, because I got into some other administrative things that
former Deans get into. Before I retired, there had been several studies on Pension
matters. I was one of the faculty who had served on what was the old Board of
Governors’ Pension Committee for years. But, that particular Committee didn’t do
any planning. They just refereed on special concessions for people, and that type of
thing. In 1978 – and a little bit before that – the Faculty members, when negotiating
salaries, convinced President Forster that we were falling behind the other
Universities. They got Forster to agree to set up a Committee to review the whole
Pension System at Guelph – not just for Faculty, but the whole Pension System. So,
Don Forster called me and said, “Earl, I want you to Chair this Committee.” I tried to
sleep on it for one night (cough) and the next day told Forster- “You know, you
shouldn’t be appointing a former Dean to chair that Committee, because people will
say- ‘he’s just another arm of the Administration”. He said, “Earl, you’re going to do
it.” (Chuckle) So, I was forced to do it. And I said, “OK. I’ll tell it the way it is.”
(Chuckle) We formed a very good committee. I’m mentioning this because- people
wonder what other things former administrators do. This committee was established
to have representatives from all three pension plans, and from all groups on campus –
teaching staff, technicians, physical plant employees, etc. Most of them knew
anything about pensions. I had some knowledge about pensions, because when I was
an undergraduate student, I took courses in Actuarial Science. I had taken courses on
interest and bond values and on life contingencies, and so I knew a little about
pensions and investments. I contacted our Actuary and he agreed to give us a talk on
pension matters. This was done to bring all these people on the Committee up to
speed. Anyway, in the end, the committee finalized a Report by January 1980. I must
say all the typing, etc. was done in the Physical Science Associate Dean’s office by
the Administrative Assistant – checking calculations that I had made- and by my
secretary. It was a very comprehensive report. This started the ball rolling and it
served as a kind of a planning thing. So that was one of the things that I did as a
former Dean. I got involved in administrative things of that type. I think there were
some other things, too. Did you have another question there?
B Do you have any other comment on what retirees become concerned with? Or
anything in that regard?
M Well, after I retired in 1984, I was still involved at the University, because I had
invited the “Learned Societies of Canada” to hold a conference at Guelph. Howard
Clark was Academic Vice-President at that time, and it fell to him to get someone to
organize the arrangements for this Conference. So, for a year, I did all the pre-
organization necessary to handle this big Conference. It was a busy year! I went to
the University of British Columbia the year before to attend the “Learned Society’s
Conference” held there, just to see how extensive it was, and how they did it, and
what things cost. This informed me on what we were facing. Conferences were
getting pretty expensive, so, they were having to raise fees each year. I figured we
could do it more economically at Guelph than at UBC. I did manage to raise some
funds – about twenty- thousand dollars - from various businesses such as Molsons,
Brights, and the Bank of Commerce, that was the University’s bank. That helped out,
so I didn’t have to raise the fees and when the whole thing was over, I had a balance
of twenty-thousand dollars. Now, if I reported this profit to the “Learned Society’s
Conference Office” they’d say, “Oh, you charged too high a fee, you’ll have to give
that back.” So, this profit was turned over to the University! So, in the University
Centre, there is recognition saying the “Learned Societies of Canada” was a
contributor to the funding of the University.
B Very good.
M We had this twenty-thousand dollars, but I could add it was a good thing for this
University, because most of the people that belong to the “Learned Societies of
Canada” had never heard much about the University of Guelph, and they came from
far and wide. So it was a great thing to promote the University.
B Great. I remember when that conference was here. Now, you mentioned that was
just after your retirement.
M Actually, it was in my final year before retirement.
B …before retirement.
B Now, I know you have spent a lot of time traveling, since you retired. And no doubt
have done many other things. Perhaps we could talk a little bit about your retirement
M Yes. Well, first of all I should mention the next project at the University that came
along. In 1989 we celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the
University. And since I’d done something for the University in ’84, they thought it
was time to recruit me again (Chuckle). So, I chaired the Committee that planned the
various celebrations. One of the things that came out of that Committee was to get a
person to write a book on the history of the first twenty-five years of the University.
This book was freely circulated at the time and is a great source of information on the
various Presidents, Vice-Presidents, also the Chancellors, each College Dean, and the
Chairs of each Department of the University – up to 1988. The various Chairs of each
Department were asked to provide information. It was edited by one person, Judith
Colbert, so it’s written in a fairly uniform style. There is a write-up for every
Department of the University, including the Service Departments. It’s a great
historical book for what was going on up until 1989.
B So that was your second major contribution to the University – just pre– and post-
M Well yes, I stayed on the Pension Committee for several years. I was very glad that I
got involved in pensions, because it was a case of where you could do something for
everybody. The people that were around in those times – I remember when Bert
Matthews came on as President from ’84 – the year I retired- until ’88. He was the
guy that was going to be President when the “Learned Societies” were here. So I
started to plan for the “Learned Societies” in ’83 and when it was announced that Bert
was coming I contacted him re: how he wanted to run certain things, as the President
had to be involved in some way. So, I always remember that!
Another thing that had an impact, that a lot of people probably don’t realize because
they weren’t directly involved in it, was the pensions. When Bert Matthews came to
Guelph, he had come from the University of Waterloo, and it was well recognized
within the system, that the University of Waterloo had one of the best Pension Plans
in the system, i.e. of all Ontario Universities. So, it was a good time, when Bert
came, to start working on the Board of Governors and the President to get some
improvements. So, it was during the Matthews years that I felt I made the best gains
in Pensions for people at the University, i.e. for both Faculty and Staff. I was thankful
for that, because he had come from a place where pensions were better than ours and
saw no reason why ours shouldn’t be as good.
B Yes. And of course, he had originally been our Academic Vice-President, shortly
after the University of Guelph was formed.
M Oh, yes.
B Now please describe some of your leisure activities since you’ve retired I know you
have taken some interesting trips.
M Well, we did some interesting traveling. However, in 1981 when I was giving up the
Deans job– the President wanted a study done which had to do with Priorities. Of
course, Priorities have to deal with money. I think the President was Bert Matthews –
so a committee was set up and it was really a committee of Deans, -- along with
people from the Administration, that knew the budgetary situation. Since the
Committee was going to be assessing priorities, the President thought well,
McNaughton’s going to be stepping down as Dean so, he was the best guy to Chair
the Committee as he wouldn’t be biased – because he wasn’t going to be around to
reap the benefits. Well, I remember that we worked away at the task of how to set
priorities for over a year. Anyway, this was before I retired and it was the last year
that I was Dean. We assembled a report before I took a trip – you mentioned trips –to
Europe. It was a bus trip for thirty-five days across Europe. And that was fine. But
just before we left I had to go over and sign the last copy of our Report that was to go
to the President. That was the day that our son-in-law was to take us to the plane.
When I came home from the University and I must have put my trousers on the bed
and left my wallet in them.When I started to go through the check-in at the Airport, I
didn’t have my driver’s license, and we were going to try to rent a car, when we got
to London. Well, being an International flight, we were there in lots of time. My son-
in-law, David Sandals, hiked off back at high speed to Guelph. I had told him exactly
where my trousers would be, and where my wallet was, and he got back, just as we
were getting buckled into our seats and before they closed the aircraft door. He gave
my wallet to the Air Attendant, who returned it to me. If that hadn’t happened it was
going to be pretty nasty, because, Jean didn’t want to drive in London. Anyway, I
always remember that incident. And we had a good trip across Europe. That was
twenty-five years ago and we’ve done a lot of traveling since then. We have taken
several bus trips and cruises. I think we were on a cruise with you Murray?...
B Yes, we cruised to Alaska together.
M In addition to the cruise to Alaska – Jean and I have taken trips to Australia, New
Zealand and to China and that end of the world…
B And I know last summer you had a trip/a cruise in the Baltic.
M Oh yes. The most recent one was a lovely cruise in the Baltic. In July, we flew to
Copenhagen, picked up a “Holland America”- big new “Western M” cruise ship and
cruised up the Baltic to Talen, and then on to St. Petersburg, and spent a day in each
place, except in St. Petersburg where we spent two days, and then back on the other
side of the Baltic. We visited Helsinki and Stockholm and some other places before
we got to Germany, too. We had beautiful weather, and the long days at that time of
year made it very pleasant.
B That’s right. Now in addition to your travels- I am sure there must be other activities
here locally, that you’ve been involved with since retirement.
M Oh, yes. I’m a Rotarian and we’ve got a very good Guelph-Wellington Men’s Club,
so those are the two weekly meetings that I attend regularily. In addition, I get
involved in some things at the church. We have a cottage, so during the summer
season we spend a lot of time in Muskoka. We have been going there since 1950.
B Well, my last question before we close this off – and I don’t want to embarrass you,
but, I’m sure there must have been some honours and awards that you have received
during your lifetime.
M Oh, Yes. I suppose the greatest honour was to have them name the Physical Science
Building – the McNaughton Building – after it was built. That would have been in ’87
or around that time. It would been after I retired that they named it the McNaughton
Building, although they moved into it in the ‘70’s. And that would be because I was
the first Dean of Physical Sciences and in charge of the operation that brought it into
being, although it was very much a committee operation. We had good people in the
Department who were enthusiastic about planning and it’s been a very, very good
building. It has given them little bits of trouble, but never big things. And I guess the
thing that best indicates how good a building it is that most recently the University
has torn down the Chemistry & Microbiology Building for the new Science Complex
and it was opened only a relatively few years before. The Chemistry Building had
some features that were built to an old provincial code--a lot of fume hoods and
things like that and maybe some of the best issues generously and shouldn’t be. The
Physical Science Building was later in time and better built, than the buildings that
were being built by Public Works. You may remember, that the old C&M Building
was the last or second to last building that was built before the University of Guelph
came into being in 1964.
B Oh, was it? Well I guess we don’t need to dwell on the specific dates of these things.
The important thing at this time is that the C. & M. building is being torn down now
and being replaced and they didn’t touch the Physical Sciences Building , i.e. the
McNaughton Building, that you were instrumental in bringing about.
M Another interesting story in connection with the Physical Science Building – at the
time they were pouring the concrete, on the second floor, Bill Winegard, who was
President at that time, said-- “Earl, you better see if you can’t work some more space
into the building to be used for the Mathematics Department.” And he added,
“Above all, get yourself a Deans office.”
So, we changed the plan, and got a Deans office on the fourth floor, and a string of
offices along the top corner to house Mathematics and Statistics in the same building.
They had previously moved out to the Arts Building
B I would expect that one reason that Dr. Winegard was interested in making sure there
was a Dean’s office for Physical Sciences, was that when he first became President –
or came as President to the University of Guelph, the President’s Offices were in the
Library at that time.
M Yes it was.
B Yes. I think that’s something that is important to have on the record, and we have
just placed it on record for posterity.
M Well it might be harder to make those modifications at the last moment to-day, as it
was accomplished in Bill Winegard’s time.
B That’s right.
M For the President to say, “Go ahead”, you know. “We can’t wait any longer!”
He must have got it approved by some senior members of the Board, …because they
couldn’t waste any time when they got the idea. It had to go ahead.
B Well, Earl, this has been a very interesting afternoon for me. Do you have any other
comments that you’d like to make before we close off this interview?
M No. I think if I said any more, we’d stretch it out too long. I think we’ve hit the
highlights pretty well.
B Thank you Earl, for telling us about you career as a Faculty Member and as Dean of
Physical Sciences and your extensive involvement at the University of Guelph. It’s
been a pleasure.
M Thank you