(Pictured are newly-weds Dalton and Winnifred Misselbrook in this 1935 wedding photo.)
My father Dalton Misselbrook was born in Dresden on December 17th, 1912.
He married Winnifred Susan Weese on September 25th, 1935 at the United Church manse, she was 17 years of age and Dalton 23 years old. In the early years the young couple lived in a rented home on Davis St., a place owned by a Mr. Perry. Later Lambert, (Dalton's father) would gift the young couple with land at 334 Davis St., on which to build their new home in 1939. Dalton was 27 years of age at the time. Lambert also provided free of charge the lumber from his sawmill to his son Dalton and daughter-in-law, Winnifred. Lambert and Martha did exactly the same thing, (free land and lumber) for his oldest son Howard and his wife Hazel Misselbrook. Velda (Misselbrook) Clark recalls that her father did the same for her and husband Keith Clark shortly after they married, "free land and lumber." All agreed it was pretty nice start in life, and made possible initially through the generosity of Lambert and Martha Misselbrook. It is note-worthy that Dalton and Winnifred's home was designed and building plans drawn by Alfred Tricker who was a life time resident of Dresden.
As mentioned, Dalton was a born on December 17th,1912 a Christmas baby for his parents Lambert and Martha. As a young boy, "Dalt" as he was now being called, was delighted to help his father and older brother Howard operate the steam powered threshing machine for farmers in the Lambton County Oakdale area. "I was always facinated with steam powered engines and I would travel to the Brigden Steam Threshers Show and other steam engine events, every year, year after year,recalled Dalton,to his son Alan. Later Dalton, would build a scaled-down model of a steam engine, and it could often be heard chugging away in the basement of his Davis Street home.
Dalton found employment at McVeans' Hub and Spoke factory and worked there until he was hired by Canadian Canners. In a newspaper interview, Dalton told the reporter that he was hired by Canadian Canners in 1938 starting at the old plant on Water Street as superintendent. "There were only the two of us, the manager and me, So, I must have been the superintendent". Dalton remembers helping to stake out the site of the new Canadian Canners plant on Wellington Street, in Dresden in March 1947.
"The ground was so hard we couldn't drive wooden stakes into it, recalled Misselbrook. "We had to get metal stakes and sharpen them at a blacksmith's before we could drive them in. The wooden stakes just cracked."
The first couple of years the manager and Misselbrook were the only full-time staff, after which the regular staff rose to five. During the tomato pack, the employee ranks swelled to 125 people. About 100 women were hired as peelers, with about 25 men hired to do the heavy work. It was all hand labour in the late 30's and on into 40's and early 50's.
News of the new plant for Wellington Street was well received by Misselbrook. "I thought it would be a great thing for the town," he told the reporter. "I knew the old (plant) was going to close up soon and it did--in 1949."
Manager of the old #5 cannery from 1947-49, Misselbrook went to the new plant in 1949 as manager. He remained plant/area manager until 1959, when he was succeeded by Stan Green. Dalton recalled that Canadian Canners had a dozen operating canning plants across the country and that he had the opportunity to transfer to a smaller operation elsewhere in the system as area manager, and that he chose not to make the move. He is reported to have told his oldest son Alan, that he (Dalton) was not interested in leaving the community or uprooting his family and besides that, the Area Managers job increasing required people with universtity education, something he did not have.
"Operating procedures were altogether different in the 50's and 60's, he recalled to the local reporter in a mid-1980's interview. He said going from manual labour to modern technigues eliminated some jobs and improved efficiencies all around. He said bulk unloading of tomatoes by water eliminated a lot of manpower from the old hand method which was a "dirty job". Prior to bulk unloading, tomatoes came in baskets and, before that, crates.
Full time staff had risen to 12 at the new plant with a seasonal staff of 200 people during the pack.
The work day was longer in the 40's and 50's and Dalton was known to spend twenty-four hours a day at the plant during the tomato pack. His wife Winnifred would deliver meals to the factory and fresh clothes daily, especially during the days at old plant #5. His sons Alan and Ted, would take turns with deliveries, so that they would get to see and spend some time with their father during during the "tomato run'.
"When the pack was on, the run was a day and night job. Not like now when it's an eight hour shift for the foremen and they go home." recalled Dalton to a Leader Publications reporter.
There was no employee union in those days, but Dalton always said that working at Canadian Canners was considered a good job. Canadian Canners paid the top wages in Dresden at that time.
Dalton also took great pride in the fact that he was a long term member of the Dresden-Camden Volunteer Fire Department. He joined his brother Howard, and Uncle Billy Dawson in the fire service and would during his volunteer career rise to the rank of Deputy Chief under his great friend and mentor Chief Rufus Law.
When Chief Law died suddenly, Misselbrook was asked to step-up to Fire Chief, but he felt his commitment to Canadian Canners could not be undermined and he chose to remain Deputy Chief. He would finish his fire department career, manning the "pumper" trucks, deciding that the younger men should be the ones to do the heavy, hard and climbing work required by a fireman.
In 1954 Dalton and Winnifred bought a water-front cottage at Walpole Island. It served as a place of refuge from the cannery as there was no telephone service at the cottage and the island was not easy to get to either. Cars were delivered four at a time by a cable ferry, the service was slow and and somewhat unreliable. "It was the perfect place for Dalton to be, during time away, from a busy tomato pack" recalls Winnifred when remembering those times with son Ted. The cottage would also become a place for family and friends to come visit, especially during weekends. Many of Winnifred's nieces and nephews have fond memories of time spent at the Walpole Island beach with water sports on the St. Clair River. Sons Ted and Alan especially enjoyed the cottage and they along with their families and friends have strong memories of the good times enjoyed there. Dalton and Winnie's grandchildren, Lee and Dawn, Jill and Beth also have happy rememberings of their time spent enjoying the sun, water and family at Walpole.
Dresden Town Councillor D.C. Misselbrook arrived on the political scene sometime during the late 50's. Dalton's son Ted remembers being told by his father that the "Canners" suggested he run for office. At that period in time Dresden town councillors were elected for one year terms only. Each year brought a new election. "Dad did not enjoy the political life, and he could hardly wait for his term to be over" remembers Ted. "I asked him why he ran for office in the first place and he said it was something 'his canners bosses' wanted him to do." "Looking back, I think it had to do with the Canners wanting some farm land expropriated from the Shaw family, and that Dalton was there to ensure that the Canners interests had a advocate in place," said Ted.
Among his other community interests was the Dresden Anglican Church. Raised methodist and later adherent to the Baptist Church, he joined Winnifred a confirmed Baptist and he attended regular Sunday serices. Dalton would later find spiritual comfort with Christ Church Anglican, Dresden. It should be noted that Dalton and Winnifred joined the Anglican Church and were later confirmed in that faith because of their son and daugther-in-law Alan and Lillian. When Al and Lil were married in 1962, he was Baptist and she Roman Catholic. As a compromise they settled on the Anglican church,though a protesent faith, they expressed many of the religious rituals practiced by the Catholics. Later Ted and Pat Misselbrook would join the rest of Misselbrooks by becoming members of the Anglican Church as well.
Dalton, invloved himself with the Church Board of Management and he and son Ted did serve on the board together for several terms. A licenced electrician, Dalton would also attend to any electrical problems at the church and would later donate a "lighted cross" that to this very day adorns the front of Christ Church Anglican.
Dalton, in 1967 had a brush with death, when Doctors discovered a dangerously large aneurysm located below the heart. The medical team headed by Doctor Hub White replaced the artery with a nylon tube, below the heart, with said tubing running down both legs. There is little doubt that the aneurysm was posed to burst, and that this operation was truly life-saving.
Dalton and Winnifred spent many winters in Florida leading up to his retirement from Canadian Canners. They had a favorite motel and the same returning friends including the motel owner Win Oozier at Hallandale, a bit north of Miami. "Mother was good to send post cards to keep us informed as to their winter travels" recalls Alan Misselbrook.
Florida and the pending birth of grand-daughter Jill posed a point of conflict for Dalt and Winnie. Dalt was determined to leave for Florida no later than the 8th of February. Winnie was like-wise determined that they would not be going anywhere until "that baby was born." Pat, ever so accomodating gave birth to Jill on February 8th, 1970. Dalt and Winnie came to Chatham Hospital to visit their new grand-baby,and to congratulate Ted and Pat on their first born. It was known that Dalt had his car packed, and the gas tanked topped, and after a appropriate amount of time spent in the hospital, turned to Winnie and said "well, lets go, we've a long trip ahead to get to Florida".
Shortly after retiring from Canadian Canners in 1977, Dalton and Winnifred sold the cottage, claiming that they no-longer had the energy to maintain both a house and a cottage. Some months later they sold their home on Davis Street and moved to a new one bedroom apartment, called the Royal Manor. But, before the move took place, Dalton was once again hospitalized for a surgical procedure. As a result furniture from their sold home was stored in the garages of Ted and Pat. Winnifred moved to the young couple's Croton home, while waiting for Dalton to recover before their move to the Royal Manor apartments.
Dalton Misselbrook retired from his position as maintenance forman in 1977, and capped what he considered to be a wonderful 39 year career.
During his thirthy-nine years at Canadian Canners, Dalton and Winnifred found the time to build their new home on Davis Street and raise two children. The first to be birthed by Winnifred was Alan Dalton on January 25th 1942, a healthy boy born at their Davis Street home with Mrs. Victor Stanley as mid-wife and Dr. Jack Ruttle in attendance. A repeat performance by Winnifred, Dalton and the others was held when Lambert Edward (Ted) Misselbrook was born on May 27th, 1945.
In 1984 Dalton, was told by his medical people that he had early stage lung cancer. His oncologist told him he was confident that by removing the cancerous half of the lung that he (Dalton) would live another 5 years. The doctor was right. Dalton died on July 29th, 1989 at Chatham Hospital.
Winnifred courageously fought mental health issues most of her adult life. And as a result, at age 60 it was determined that a retirement home setting was required in order to provide her with the 24 hour care she so desperately needed. Some years later she became a alzheimer's victim and was moved to Chatham and Medeow Park Nursing Home. Winnifred died on March 9th/2000 from pneumonia at age 82 years, with her sons Alan and Ted and their wives Lillian and Pat at her side.