Muriel and Jack Pickell, owners of the Paris Star
First name Muriel
Last name Pickell
Age 66
Date of birth August 16, 1912
Community Paris
Jack Pickell
First name Jack
Last name Pickell
Age 70
Date of birth October 30, 1908
Community Paris


This interview has been contributed by the Paris Museum and Historical Society. It was taken in July, 1979, by a volunteer for the Paris Public Library.


Interviewer: What is your family background?

Mrs. Pickell: Well, my father came here in 1902. He was born in Brantford and came to Paris in 1902 end started this company -the Sanderson-Harold with Mr. John Sanderson of Brantford.

Interviewer: What was your father's first name?

Mrs. Pickell: John- no other name. His family background started in Scotland- in the Orkney Islands. His great grandfather came from the Orkney Islands. And then they settled in England, in North Hamptonshire and his grandfather came out to Onadaga in 184?, I think. I have it here- to Hardingstone, North Hamptonshire-they came there from the Orkney Islands and then the family came to Onadaga in 1846. And my grandfather who was Samuel Harold farmed there. Then he came into Brantford end started a very successful grain end wool business and was in business there 'til about 1909.

My father was born in 1673. He started to work when he was about seventeen for the A. Harris Company. Which later became Massey Harris and he went from office boy to office manager in that time. And then when the company became Massey Harris he became very ill. He was overworked through all this business of the amalgamation of the company. And his doctor told him he had to take a trip on the ocean- this was the great cure-all. So he end my mother had two children at the time- my eldest brother Edgar who is still living next door- end my brother Jack. And they left the children with my mother's mother, they borrowed money- they had to, to go on this trip to England. Well, it was a tremendous success. I guess because he regained his health and started this company in 1902* And in 1906, it burned to the ground on Christmas Eve. And it was the first year we had made any money They felt they had turned the corner. So the Town of Paris really came to his rescue. They set him up in offices downtown end the Town backed the bonds- they had to raise more money to build the factory that is presently up on the river-the Nith River. So he had greet support there.

The business began to flourish. Then about 1917, he was asked to run for Parliament. At the time the war was on- the first great war. Sir Robert Borden was the head of a Union Government. My father was a Liberal but he didn't agree with Sir Wilfrid Laurier about conscription. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, being a frenchman didn't want that policy so my father left the Liberal party and joined the Union Government, and ran against Harry Cockshutt from Brantford. He won, but he didn't win the immediate election around the area. There was a soldiers' vote and it came in slowly from overseas so he was elected, I think, by 87 votes. Anyway he was in Parliament until 1921 and he decided not to run again because his business was demanding his attention. My brother had been overseas- two brothers Edger and Jack- so he came back to the factory and went through depressions-for about five years he didn't take a salary from the company. Most of the people who had money in the company were relatives my mother's people, his father-there were very few shares that anyone else had in the company. The Sandersons and Harolds had the bulk of them.

Then in 1936, he was asked to go to Toronto to head up the Workman's Compensation Board. He was there for six years. He then retired and came back to Paris in 1944. He only lived three years after that. But he made a greet contribution towards the hospital. He was the first President in 1922- and he was head of it 'til he went to Toronto in 1936. Then when he came back in 1944. they asked him to be chairmen of the board again, so he was that until 1947. He also served on council as deputy-reeve in the 1930's. But I'd say he was en outstanding citizen.

My brother then became president of the hospital board. Dad served for 16 years. Edgar served 16- so 34 years altogether. They took a great interest in the hospital fund, and my mother was the first president of the Ladies' Organisation.

Interviewer: What was your mother's name?

Mrs. Pickell: Her name was Edith McKee and she came from Peel County. They moved to Brantford when she was seven. She met my father on the first day she went to school. They were married in 1896. And I was the fourth child. I have three brothers end my brother James, he served in the Second World war. There is quite a difference in our ages. My two elder brothers served in the -first war end then came the second war end James was not very young when he went-he went in 1942and he was 33 and he had two children. He could very well have passed it up- but he went : and with a tank unit- he went to Italy and Sicily and served through that whole campaign and he was decorated with e membership o^ the British Empire. I have a picture of him with Field Marshall Alexander who came and decorated him. So three of them served in wars.

Interviewer: Edgar was the oldest-then Jack-then James-

Mr. Pickell: Then Muriel. So that "brings it up to date.

Mrs. Pickell: What was nice about the Sanderson-Harold Co. was that all 3 boys worked with my father. Edgar became general manager and President when my father went to Toronto, Jack - his talent lay in the factory end of it. He was very good at that and James WPS the sales manager. They got along extremely well.

James died three years after the end of the war.

Interviewer: What were YOU doing in the meantime?

Mrs. Pickell: Oh, I feel like the lesser life in this family. I feel like I've coasted along on their laurels. My parents were involved in everything. My mother was the head of the Red Cross during the war-the whole time of the war.

Interviewer: The First World War?

Mrs. Pickell: Yes. She was just a going concern and I'm absolutely the opposite. I shrink from everything like that. I don't know whether I was overwhelmed with everyone else's talents or what.

Mr. Pickell: And Ed Harold was the heed of the Centennial celebrations in 1956 until he had a heart-attack.

Mrs. Pickell: Not actually the chairman of the whole thing just the programme committee. But he had a heart attack in 1956.

Interviewer: When did you two meet?

Mrs. Pickell: 1938.

Mr. Pickell: A long courtship.

Mrs. Pickell: Yes. No money-depression-everything.

Interviewer: How long?

Mrs. Pickell: Seven years.

Interviewer: Was 1938 the year you met-or were married.

Mrs. Pickell: We were married in 1936. My parents moved off to Toronto when we were married. Their house is at 202 Grand River St. where Dr. McKay lives. So they asked us to stay in the house. They didn't want to rent it because they wanted to come back to Paris. We rattled around with six bedrooms, a couple of living rooms, a sunroom, whatever.

Interviewer: Had you lived in that house all your life?

Mrs. Pickell: Yes.

Interviewer: Where was the original Sanderson-Harold before it burnt down?

Mrs. Pickell: It was on Capron St. where St. Andrew St. comes in end meets it. There was a space there that was occupied by a company celled the Adams Wagon Works. So they bought that and started up the manufacture of screen doors end they were one of the earliest in the refrigeration business.

Mr. Pickell: Ice boxes.

Mrs. Pickell: Ice refrigeration-and one of the last to go out of that business. They even made refrigerators for commercial refrigeration. So they stayed in it a long time. Edgar's the one who knows all this paving lived through it.

Interviewer: Where is the Sanderson- Harold Co. now?

Mr. Pickell: It's at the Junction.

Mrs. Pickell: On the With River. Murray Wolfman bought it in 1964.

Interviewer: Who owns the share? now?

Mrs. Pickell: It is his- I don't know. He had a great connection with the Greenwin people in Toronto and they have a part in it. They kept the name but everything was sold out.

Interviewer: Was it 1909 or 1910 that the old Sanderson-Harold burnt down- I remember reading something about it.

Mrs. Pickell: Well it burned in 1906 and I guess they would start pretty soon to build the new place.

Mr. Pickell: In the newspaper end in the last ten or twelve years there has been a tremendous change in that as far as production is concerned. Because when we started out we had pretty primitive machinery and everything was set by hand. All the news and ads had to be picked out of type cases and set in lines like mirror readings- set backwards and upside down and across the columns of type.

Mrs. Pickell: I became proficient in that. I forgot to say I did make a contribution to Jack's business. Well, through the years I was always interested in the news and I was gathering things but I did go down end help him for two years from 1944 to 1946 when he was very understaffed. There was Jack, Margaret Brontmeyer who ran the linotype and whoever we could gather in that might give us some time and I was reading proofs. Well, then Brian was born in 1946 so I resigned end went back in 1951, no 1959 and I worked twelve years in reading the proofs-and gathering news-I wasn't completely useless.

Mr. Pickell: But we used to set everything on linotypes. Everything was hot metal then. After we got through the business of picking things out we finally bought a linotype which was a greet advance because you could set the type a line at a time so it was much easier than picking all the type out and putting it back in the cases afterwards. All I could set by hand was about two columns of news in a day. So we had a fair amount of help. There were a lot of tramp printers around. They would come and work for awhile until they got enough money so they could booze it up for awhile and then move along to the next town. Anyway, then we got a linotype about 1954 which was marvelous for us- a whole new world. There was still the business of putting the type in forms, locking it up and putting it on the press and running it ourselves. We ran three presses. Then about twelve years ago we got into offset-it's en entirely different process. Instead of setting the type on a linotype you set it with a typewriter and you set punchout lines of paper. Then you feed that into a computor and it comes out in strips of paper in the dark. Then you feed that through a machine that has the chemicals in- then comes out long strips of news printed in column width and then you run that through a waxer and stick it on a paper. The pads - you have a headliner which makes a bigger type for the ads but you can make up your whole page- when you have the thing set up, you can put a paper together. All weekly newspaper are doing that now-there are few left in Ontario- that still use the hot lead type of thing but they are vanishing. The Port Dover Maple Leaf- they still use the hot lead. So that's been the great improvement. Also in pictures-we used to take pictures end send the negatives in to have engravings made. Well, engravings got to be very expensive end it took two or three days to get them back from the engraving company. Then we bought our own engraving machine end we had that until we vent over to the offset. That helped some but we produced some pretty rotten pictures. Lately, Bill's been having trouble with pictures in the paper because he bought a new camera end he's still getting used to it- they're dark. But that's why they can produce a paper with a smaller staff.

Mrs. Pickell: Well, Jack you served as editor of the paper since 1944 when your father died until last year in 1976.

Interviewer: Is Brian your only child.

Mrs. Pickell: Yes he is.

Mr. Pickell: He never was interested in the paper.

Mrs. Pickell: He has a blue grass band called the Humber River Valley Boys. He was trained to be a photo-journalist. He went to New York for a year and then he studied in Toronto end we felt he was doing very well with his photography when suddenly he switched to playing a banjo.

Mr. Pickell: He was all over Europe, Japan, China. That book is all Brian's photography (re. the 1972 hockey series between Canada and U.S.S.R.). He went with Team Canada -through John Martin of Paris. John had a business called Pro-sport and he asked Brian to take these pictures.

Interviewer: What is the name of the book?

Mrs. Pickell: It's called "Twenty-seven Days in September." We felt he was on his way. He went to China with a team from British Columbia. He has been to Cuba, Russia three times. He also did a book with Ken Dryden called "Let's Play Better Hockey."

Mr. Pickell: Another thing about the newspaper, none of the weeklies are printed in the old shops now. They go to community presses and you go as far as the negatives-you take pictures of each page and make the negative and we go to the Kitchener Garnerway Press and they make plates from the negatives and put it on the big community press and they're run off let's say 2500 copies in less then an hour. And they come out all folded. That was one thing we had to do- we used to have to fold the papers.

Mrs. Pickell: You know when we'd finish? 4 a.m. Thursday morning. The night before Brian was born, my father said, "Muriel, I don't think I'd go down to the office," They had moved back to Paris and we were still there with a livingroom and things separate. I decided to take his advice and stay home. So Jack came in about 4 o'clock and I was set to go to the hospital.

Interviewer: Would you mind giving us your birthdates?

Mrs. Pickell: August 16, 1912.

Mr. Pickell: October 30, 1908.


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