j a mccague edit script by I8XlkK6

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                         ALUMNI-IN-ACTION ORAL HISTORY
                           JAMES A. McCAGUE, O.A.C. 1940
                              Interviewed by Ross R. Hay
                                  September 19, 1990

H      This is an interview with James Ashford McCague, of year 1940, that’s being recorded
       by Ross Hay for the University of Guelph, Oral History Committee of Alumni-in-Action,
       which is a group of the Alumni of the University of Guelph.

H      Jim, has Alliston always been your home?

McC No, I was born in Victoria Square on the family farm, and when my oldest brother was
    married, my Mother (nee, Margaret Gee), and two sisters and I moved to Toronto and I
    went to high school there, and then because my brother George (George Anderson Gee
    McCague) was graduated in 1928 and J.J. E. (John) was graduated in 1921, I was
    convinced that O.A.C. was the only place to go, so I started in 1936 at Guelph, in the
    Animal Husbandry course, and graduated in 1940.

H      Good. And you have a beautiful farm here at R.R. 2, Alliston. I noted on the way in, I
       should have known before, that it’s called Lodestar. I don’t know where the name came
       from. You been noted in Holstein Friesian circles for many years. How many acres do
       you farm here with your boys?

McC Well I started with a hundred acres, but now the boys are operating it and they’re
    operating about a thousand. We own four hundred, and my son owns two hundred, so
    really the whole unit owns six hundred.

H      How did you get started in farming?

McC Well, when I was in prison camp I wrote a letter home saying farming wouldn’t look so
    bad after the war, so this farm came up for sale, and so my brother bought it, with the
    understanding that I could buy it through the “Veterans’ Land Act” after I got home, so
    that’s how it started with a hundred acres, but there was no hydro. We didn’t have hydro
    for a year and a half.

H      Well the “Veterans’ Land Act” helped a lot of people...

McC It did. Five percent loans were attractive.

H      I’ll say! Now you and your wife Janet (nee, James) have two boys?

McC We have three boys and one girl. Peter and Jamie are the two working with the farm. The
    other two are in Toronto - Scott and Carol. Altogether we have twelve grandchildren.

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H      Wonderful. How many purebred Holsteins are kept on the farm, now? - approximately?

McC A bit over three hundred - we’ve about one hundred and thirty milking.

H      Great. A big operation. I presume you are using A.I.?

McC Yes, we’ve always used A.I.

H      So that would be when you came back, what, 1946 or so?

McC Yes, we really started farming in ‘46.

H      Jim I think you’ve already told us what brought you to O.A.C. was that your two brothers
       had gone there?

McC Yeah. Well, my Father (George) died when I was three, so really my brothers were more
    or less fathers to me.

H      Right. Well they were great people. Now we’ll get back to OAC life when you went
       there. You would have hazing?

McC Yes

H      You have any comments on that? Can you remember any of the things about hazing?

McC No, I think what they did - the second year took us out to the farm - the jail farm -
    somebody went in a car before - the group was running behind them and they drove back
    home and we had to get back in time for breakfast at the residence. So I was in better
    physical condition by the time the hazing was over than I have been since, I think.

H      Great. What was campus life like in 1936, when you started to Guelph? Of course
       there wouldn’t be the buildings that are there today.

McC No, but I really enjoyed it. And it was a new experience really - for everybody, of
    course, in the group, but -

H      Was everybody in residence at that time?

McC Just about all in residence, yeah, excepting the people that lived in town.

H      How many students were in your year?

McC A bit less than a hundred. I can’t remember the exact number, you know.


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H      You know there’s about eleven thousand, well that’s not right, twelve thousand, three
       hundred and twelve, I think are now going to the university - maybe more than that, but I
       think it’s around there. What was the cost for your room and board at the time when you
       went there?

McC Something less than five hundred dollars a year as I recall it.

H      Isn’t that amazing. What about the food?

McC Well the food was pure and wholesome, but not that exciting, I mean, but the milk was
    terrific, you know, because it was ice cold

H      Right. I remember that myself. They had that song, “They feed us fish on Friday, that’s
       been six months out to sea, and then at dinner boys there’s no tea”.

McC As I recall it, we sat right at the table and were waited on completely.

H      That would be correct. It was in my year, but I was in residence where we
       (inaudible)...and big platters of meat and big dishes of potatoes and vegetables and half a
       loaf of bread and...

McC Oysters

H      Half a pound of butter

McC ...wonderful oyster stew

H      Yeah. Couldn’t ‘ve been any better. Now you enjoyed O.A.C. and got some knowledge
       there. How did that fit you for your future life?

McC Well, I think the residence life was one of the most important things. You got to know
    people and how to get along with people, and if you didn’t get along with them, you were
    in trouble of course if you didn’t, and when I graduated I went to work for Donovan
    Publishing. They published three farm papers in Toronto.

H      What were they?

McC They were “The Canadian Poultry Review”, and “The Canadian Silver Fox and Fur”, and
    “The Holstein Friesian Journal”, so I sold advertising at first for them.

H      Good. That would be interesting.

McC But many of our classmates were joining - or had joined the Army - the military of some
    kind - so I checked the enlistment office. It was just a block or two away from where I

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       worked, so I joined the Air Force in November of that year – of 1940.

H      And how long were you in the Air Force?

McC ‘Til the end of the war.

H      Yeah, you were a prisoner of war.

McC Yes, for three and a half years. I was shot down in my first operation and prisoner of war
    from then on.

H      Were you a pilot or gunner?

McC I was a fighter pilot.

H      A fighter pilot.   And what was it like being a prisoner of war?

McC We were treated... They stuck by the rules pretty well, excepting when the “Great
    Escape” happened, when the tunnel that we built - well, two hundred or so were supposed
    to get out, but seventy-eight, I think got out.

H      Were you in that camp when the tunnel was built?

McC    Yes, I was on the carpenter supply gang (Chuckle) ...to find boards to shore the tunnel up
       with...

H   There was a show about that?
McC Yes, “The Great Escape”.

H      And that must have been a thrilling experience - a nervous-making experience?

McC Yeah, I roomed with one of the fellows that did escape, and I’ve seen him a couple of
    times since.

H      (Inaudble) I’m glad you mentioned that. That’s very interesting - very interesting. Now,
       Jim since you came back from the war in ‘46, you came to this farm, but I also know you
       were a member of a lot of different organizations that you’ve worked in to help
       agriculture - and I know you were president of the “Holstein Friesian Association”.
       That’s a huge organization and it’s a real achievement to be president of that group.
       You’re also a director of the “Milk Marketing Board”, “The Agricultural Research
       Institute of Ontario”, you’re president of “The Dairy Farmers of Canada”, you were on
       “VIDO” which is the “Veterinary Infectious Diseases Organization”. I think that is that
       stationed in Saskatoon?


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McC Yeah, at the University of Saskatchewan

H     Then you were awarded a “Centennial Medal” by the University of Guelph - and you
      were also given a “Fellowship Award” by the Agriculture Institute of Canada, at their
      National Convention when it was held in Montreal. I want to read to you if I may Jim,
      that citation from the Agriculture Institute. “McCague, a well-known breeder of
      Holstein cattle and member of the Huronia Branch of the Ontario Institute of Agrologists,
      received this honour that is the Fellowship Award of the Agriculture Institute of Canada,
      for his involvement in the dairy industry and the notable Lodestar Holstein herd which he
      established in 1946. In addition, he has been a very active member and leader in
      numerous community, provincial and national organizations, some of which we have
      mentioned. Jim is recognized as a leader in agriculture, not just in Ontario, but across
      Canada. He has been willing to set an example and show his abilities in many phases of
      agriculture. Some of his most notable accomplishments include the “Master Breeder
      Shield” from the Holstein Friesian Association of Canada, in 1968, the “Ontario
      Agricultural Centennial Medal”, in 1974, and the Ontario Institute of Agrologists’,
      “Distinguished Agrologist Award”, in 1979. McCague’s nomination for the Fellowship
      was supported by the Huronia Branch of the Ontario Institute of Agrologists, of which
      McCague is a charter member”.
      Now I also have before me here, and excuse me for reading all of this. Jim was awarded
      an O.A.C. “Centennial Medal” in 1974 and if I may Jim, I’ll Just read this inscription out
      of this .

       “Following the end of World War II, he began farming near Alliston, a one hundred acre




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       farm, to which he later added two hundred additional acres. Lodestar Farms, an
       outstanding dairy farm operation, visited regularly by many export buyers. He was
       awarded the “Master Breeder Shield” by the Holstein Friesian Association of Canada,
       in 1968. He was the Director of the Holstein Friesian Association for fifteen years,
       and served as President in 1973. He is a Director of the Simcoe County Holstein
       Club and of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. He is first vice-president of the
       Dairy Farmers of Canada, a member of the Dairy Food Science Bureau, and of the
       Canadian Council of Milk Recording (?). He is Chairman of the Joint Dairy Breeds
       Committee. Since 1970, Mr. McCague has been a member of the Agricultural
       Research Institute of Ontario. In addition, he has found time to serve as President of
       the Alliston Lions Club, the Alliston High School Board and the Essa Township
       Planning Board. It is fitting that an O.A.C. “Centennial Medal” be awarded to James
       McCague for his efforts on behalf of dairy farmers and the dairy industry, and for his
       continued interest in this campus.”
       That’s wonderful, Jim. It’s a real achievement in your life.

McC Thanks, Ross.

H      Is there anything more that you would like to tell us about yourself?
       Jim, I just about forgot, that in talking with Rosemary Clark this morning, she told me
       about you and your wife Janet going on a cruise trip - on a trip to China. How did
       you enjoy that?

McC We enjoyed it very much. Luckily we were there the fall before the Tiananmen
    Square Riots happened, so I think we saw it when it was better than it will be for
    some time.

H      Would you go on a trip like that again?

McC Yes. We’re thinking of.... well we’ve signed up to go to Africa - in January.
    Hopefully, Rosemary will be going too - a good tour director

H      When Rosemary hears this, she’ll really appreciate it.

End off




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