Interview with Mr. W. D. Taylor conducted on 28 June 1978.
Mr. Taylor has lived in St. George all of his life, during which time he has contributed greatly to our community. Mr. Taylor was the first president of the Lions Club, he sold his land and developed the survey along with many other business ventures. He has always been active in all areas of the community including the United Church where he still sings in the choir.
Interviewer: Have you lived in St. George all your life?
Mr. Taylor: Yes I have lived here all my life except for ten years when I was out in Manitoba. I went out there in the spring of 1920 and I came back in October of 1929- I was married in January 1930.
Interviewer: Where did you live after you were married?
Mr. Taylor: We went up where my son Bob, lives now. (red brick house at the top of Main St. upper hill) We bought that farm from Nellies mother and I started a dairy as well as farming. I was selling more milk than I could produce, so when the home farm came up for sale I bought it. (survey property was the farm and DeRondes house was the old Taylor farm house) I called the dairy up where Bob is, Sunnyhill Dairy. The health unit was getting pretty strict and I knew that sooner ar later they would kick me out of there for health reasons. The dairy was actually attached to the barn with a cement wall in between.
Interviewer: What happened to the Dairy then?
Mr. Taylor: That was when I bought the church (Methodist).
Interviewer: What was in the church when you took over?
Mr. Taylor: Nothing. Every window had been smashed, kids you know. When they formed the Union, the people had the choice of using the Methodist or the Presbyterian church. I think it was a big mistake to move to the old Presbyterian Church (now the United Church). The old Methodist Church was the best building of the three churches.
Before I bought it I had Bill Summerhayes come out and take a look at it to see if he thought it was a safe and sound building. He and others agreed that it was a sound building, and that it was in good condition.
The continuing Presbyterians got the big idea of tearing out the floor boards in the basement. It was wet and there was water there. They started tearing out the floor boards and throwing them any which way. When I bought it, it would turn your stomach. It was in such a mess. That didn’t bother me because I could see the finished product.
The first thing I did was to replace the glass upstairs and down. It cost me $200 to $300 for glass. The same glass today would have cost $2000 to $3000. That was the first thing.
I did my best to get people interested in buying it and turning it into a recreational centre. I didn't have any money to throw around. This was the end of the Depression, but I hated to see the building wrecked. I couldn't get anyone interested so I went ahead and bought it anyway. In the back of my mind I was going to turn it into a dairy but if they had of gone along with me about the recreational centre that was what I would have rather done.
There were three people, Jack McCormick, a Paterson and another man from Woodstock had the responsibility of the disposal of the old church. I knew Jack, so I told him if he was going to sell to give me the first chance at it. Well about a year after that, in the fall of 1942 I bought it for $350. There was an old organ in the church that I sold for$25 and there was also bench that I sold for $25-Really I only paid $300 for that huge church.
When I bought it there were no pews in it. They had sold the pews to a church down near Boston. They also took the light fixtures and a porch mat, whether they were supposed to or not. They bought all the pews for $ 75. You know the pews in the old Methodist Church were much more comfortable than the ones we use now in the United. Everyone admitted that.
Mrs. Dr. Addison was still living and she was a Presbyterian. She said that she would give $1000 towards fixing up the red brick building but she wouldn’t give any towards fixing up the other. Ed Lawrason used to look after her finances and Ed went along with that.
Even with all the pews out of the old church the acoustics were 100% perfect. Ed came up to see me one day and I was up tearing down the gallery. We were talking back and forth and I said that we had made a big mistake by using the other church. I also thought that i the money used to fix up the red brick church would have fixed the big Methodist church. He said, “Bill ¼ of the money would have done it”. He thought too that we should have used the Methodist Church.
When I tore down the gallery out of the church I took parts of it and used them in our United Church. Parts of the railings from the choir area of the United Church are from the Methodist Church.
There used to be a man here who was a bit of a boy when the church was built in 1869. His grandfather was what we would call a contract or nowadays, put up that church. The foundation of that building went 30ft. into the ground and was about 1 yd. thick. It was a very sound, solid building.
Anyway I went right to work cleaning and renovating for the dairy and cold storage. I had Frank Osborne working for me for the summer changing it over for me.
Interviewer: How long did you have the Dairy down there?
Mr. Taylor: I sold out to Don Reeder in 1952. It didn't last too long after that. When I sold, I had 3 trucks on the road and I had just put in a larger boiler and a larger pasteurizer. I peddled milk down to Lynden, Copetown, Jerseyville and Duff's Corners, went back to Branchton, over to Glen Morris, all of Governor's Rd., and over to Green Lane near Paris.
Later on he sold out to tiixon Dairy.
Interviewer: How many men did you employ?
Mr. Taylor: Well I still had the farm and I had two men up there, three men on the road and one in the dairy. I suppose I had 6 or 7 men on the average.
Interviewer: Who owned the pyjama factory that was also located in the Old Church?
Mr. Taylor: Well I rented it to Bruce Kerr and Bruce Kitchen from Brant-ford. They approached the Lions Club to sponsor the factory and they declined. So some of us including myself, went around the community to get help. The first question the people asked us was how much would they pay. Well we quoted the wage figure that they had given us but when it came time to hire the actual wage was much less than they had said at first. They did get operating all right but then they folded up. Then I rented it to a printing outfit run by Errol Beal. They did commercial printing, letterheads .etc. They went strong for a while and then they folded.
Interviewer: After the dairies all cleared out what happened to the building?
Mr. Taylor: Well as I told you I sold it to Don Reeder and he in turn sold it to Dixon Dairy from Gait. They sold all the equipment and then they sold the building to the Legion. Then it burned down.
Interviewer: Can you tell us about the Survey here in the village that you started?
Mr. Taylor: I started the survey in 1952. Lillian St. was the first street. It went up from Church St. only as far as the jog onto Elizabeth St.
Lillian St. was named after our daughter and the other names are from the Royal Family.
Interviewer: Is the Survey going to expand?
Mr. Taylor: Well I don’t really know but at least not until the sewers come in. I sold 60 acres from this farm on the west side of the road to my son Bob and I kept 40 acres. I sold a couple of acres to the Lions for the Ball Park and I sold the land where the arena is. About 150ft north of the arena I still hade 16-18 acres. In 1971 I sold it. That was where the old gravel pit was. It was nothing but bolders with no top soil.
You run up against a lot of frustration in trying to build a survey. You have to deal with so many organizations and none of them will say a definite yes or no!
Sunny Acres is the real name of the survey.
Interviewer: Was there a creamery at one time in this immediate area?
Mr. Taylor: It was right down the laneway past the big house. It was a cement building and my uncle had a cooper shop there where they made barrels for apples and cheese boxes. They had a fire there and it was nearly ruined. My Dad rebuilt it and Fred Uren rented it and Made butter there.
Interviewer: Could you tell us something about the Lions Club?
Mr. Taylor: It started in 1945 and I was the first President for 2 ½ years. When it first started there were 24 members.
Interviewer: Could you tell us about the Bell Foundry property.
Mr. Taylor: Well, two fellows from Hamilton came along here with a brain wave to start a machine shop and tool and dye. They came to myself and Fred Glaves.
I owned that property which originally belonged to the Bell Foundry. I was living up on the hill then and I'd go back the lane when they were tearing that building down and I did a lot of swearing. Those were the Depression years and I had no money to throw around. I tried to get several people interested in buying it. The whole plant sold for only $1800. It was terrible. After it was torn down it was in a terrible mess, all broken brick and rubble. I bought the property anyway. I cleaned up the place. Ed Dowell came along and had the chance to buy the property after WWII. I sold part of it to him. It was L-shaped and I kept the corner piece, (corner of Reid St. and Beverly St.)
Then those two fellows came along and wanted to get a hold of a building to start their tool and dye shop. Well I built the building and we got into business. I was supposed to be treasurer but these two guys were supposed to have a business in Hanlton too and they thought it would be better to handle the books from there. I didn't have time to check on it so I let it go. The first thing I knew that we were up against the wall and had no money. They didn’t pay any rent so finally I had to put a padlock on the door. I didn't let anything go out.
Ron Mitten took over and he sub-let it to someone else. The Roy brothers came along and they bought it from me. They kept up the tool and dye business. Then they folded up. Mr. Douglas bought it from them. There were also cleaners in there at on time.