Field, Food and Family
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Oral History Interview Project Number Eight

Field, Food and Family

History can make for great evening entertainment -- as proven on November 12 1994 at the production of "A Scarboro Tale"! But the greatest purpose of history is to improve our lot in the future. We can only avoid mistakes in the future if we learn from the mistakes of the past. Two hundred years ago, when a day's work would buy only a few slices of bread, 99% of the population barely survived. Of course, during the frequent famines, many perished. Over the past few decades in Canada, we have grown accustomed to having what we want when we want it -- using bags of expendable income. But now the clock seems to be turning back on us -- with food banks and soup kitchens crying out for more help. Help us to manage with less tomorrow by sharing your memories of a simpler and less luxurious yesterday.

Your recollections of feeding the family through the depression and war years are not only history, they are valuable learning tools for the future. Please refer to the McCowan Society's "Oral History Interview Strategy". It is important that you record your personal experiences and memories of specific events. The following questions should trigger particular memories and stories. Please include as much detail as possible including the approximate year of the event. You may have also heard relevant stories from your parents or grandparents: please share with us the details of these stories as well.

  1.     What constituted your typical breakfast / dinner / supper?
  2.     Which was the most important meal of the day?
  3.     Did you always have dessert? Were snacks discouraged?
  4.     Were there any meal-time rituals in your family?
  5.     Did you have a garden? Were there any local community gardens?
  6.     Did the children help with the garden?
  7.     Did you buy from a local farmer or market gardener? Did they deliver?
  8.     Did anyone in your family have food allergies?
  9.     Was any year particularly bad for your family?
  10.     Did the destitute come around for food?
  11.     Were there any soup kitchens in your area?
  12.     Did you have any particular experiences with rationing during the war?
  13.     If you lived on a farm, did your parents supply the local community?
  14.     What dairy did you ship to? Did you ship your milk yourself?
  15.     In what other farm products were you involved?
  16.     What methods of weed and pest control did you use?
  17.     When did you start using chemical fertilizers / herbicides/pesticides?
  18.     Were there any particularly killing frosts?
  19.     Did you show cattle or grain at Scarborough Fair?
  20.     What did you like best about Scarborough Fair?
  21.     What other events were held at Scarborough Fair?
  22.     Were folk disappointed when the Fair was not held in 1937, 1938...?

From The Scarboro Heights Record V5 #1