Let’s Talk Oral History Aurora Project
Transcription: Bud Gilbert (BG), interviewed by Erika Mazanik (EM)
EM: This is October 19th, 2014. 1:30 PM, Hollandview Trail Retirement Residence. My name is Erika Mazanik, interviewing Bud Gilbert for the Let’s Talk Oral History Aurora Project. This is our first interview. Bud do you consent to doing this interview?
BG: I’ m the first?
EM: You’re the first
(Start of Interview)
EM: Okay. Um, so, uh, Bud, how long have you lived in Aurora?
BG: I’ve lived in Aurora since 1931. Yonge Street North, my father bought 8 acres up there in 1931 and I grew up there and I went to school in Aurora, public school and high school.
EM: And uh, you moved to Aurora from Hamilton, what was that like?
BG: I was born and raised; sorry I should say I was born in Hamilton, though I stayed there for about 6 months, and then we moved to Toronto for a couple years and then my father’s with General Motors and he used to travel all across Canada. He bought this property, as I say, in Aurora, in 1931 and I’ve been there ever since.
EM: So what was it like going to Church Street School?
BG: It was very good. In those days, of course, school started at 9 o’clock, 9 o’clock in the morning and I used to walk to school back and forth and come home for lunch, my mother would always have lunch for us. I have, I have had three brothers and a sister so we all went to the Church Street School, and, everyday as they say at we walked back and forth to school and then in the good weather we’d ride our bicycles. But we had a good time. I was in grade 8 and we had a lot of fun at public school.
EM: Good, good, and can you tell me about working at the Poniac/Buick dealership?
BG: Oh yes, well back in 1948 after I was in agricultural college for a year, my Dad pulled me out and said “Bud I want you to come and help work in the Poniac Buick Dealership in Aurora,” which was one of the first ones we ever had in Aurora. So I left OAC in Guelph and came back and worked with my dad for 10 years. I was on sales and I was an automotive mechanic for part time mechanic and a service manager, pretty well jack of all trades for 10 years, and then my father sold the dealership.
EM: And then, you went to, you opened B.D. Gilbert Insurance?
BG: Yeah, that was under my, my dads name was Burton Dean Gilbert and my correct name is Burton Doane Gilbert. The Doane’s are the ones from the Quakers up in Yonge Street North in Aurora, or in Newmarket, I should say. And so when I came along they called me Bud instead of Burt. But that was the dealership was B.D. Gilbert,
BG: I’m sorry did you say insurance?
BG: Oh, I’m sorry I’m going back to car business.
EM: That’s okay
BG: Yeah the insurance, I started that. We bought out a brokerage in Aurora Harold Gravin, and I, that was my neighbour and cousin, tried in 1963 it was, we bought this dealer, this brokerage of general insurance and I had a license to sell general insurance and my wife, June, was also licensed so we started, we carried this business on for 25 years at 96 Cousins Drive. It was a very successful business that we had. I sold out in the year 1998, we sold the business and June and I retired that year.
EM: And you were very involved in the Aurora United Church as well?
BG: Yes, brings, brings back old memories. Boy oh boy. Yes, when we first came to Aurora in 1931 of course I was 4 years old, 4 or 5 I guess I was, and my mother and father were United Church People and they took, brought us all to the Aurora United Church in our younger days. And I, I stayed there on the church, I was on the church board, and I attended Sunday School there and, I was trustee, I should say I am a trustee today but prior to that I was on the board with other members of the church. And we looked after the ushering and a lot of general running around in the church in those days. And the church grew and grew and it was really good and all my children that were born were baptized and out of my five daughters 4, 4 of them were, I walked up and down the aisle of that church which brings back old old memories. Boy oh boy. It was a great place and we met a lot of people and we really enjoyed ourselves and my wife enjoyed going to church as well. My father and my mother both had funeral services there and when my wife passed away 4 years ago we had a funeral service for her at my church. It brings back old old memories and its very very sorry to see that church gone today but I understand that its going to be rebuilt within 2 to 5 years they tell us.
EM: And in 2005 you were names Aurora’s citizen of the year.
BG: Yes 2005, yeah that was a great year. I, it was quite a surprise because in those days they used to have meetings around in the town office and my daughters and my wife said “come on Bud you’ve gotta go to this meeting and meet some people and get together,” so I went and I had no idea whatsoever. So they read this, this, I should say, I was gonna say, they read this break down of what I had accomplished in the Town of Aurora because I was on the School Board for 8 years, and I past, past president I should say, of the Lions Club, and past president of the Aurora G.C.’s, and I’ve been a member of the Rising Sun Lodge, a Masonic lodge in Aurora for 64 years now. So all this was all read out as being one of the better citizens for the Town of Aurora of which I was quite proud to be of. It was a good, good, good year and we had a lot of fun.
EM: That’s really great.
EM: And, when reading through your file the thing that seemed the most important to you was raising your family in Aurora, and meeting your wife.
BG: Yes I met my wife at the dealership when it, it was actually on a Sunday cause we had to keep it open for selling gas and she came in with a friend of my brother and sister in-law’s in the car and they introduced me to her in 1949 it was. When June graduated from the TGH Hospital in Toronto 1948. We got married in 1952 which was a very very quiet wedding just our good friends, a man and wife, the Foxes, stood up for us, so we went and got married on a Saturday night in Toronto and that was quite a surprise to my parents but that’s how I met my wife. And 1952 was the start, and as I say we had 6 children and are great great to have families today and now we have 10 grandchildren and one great grandchild who was born November the 9th last year so he’s going to be just about one year old, another big celebration. Lots of fun.
BG: Yea, the real surprise, yea this little, he’s quite a guy. Only one year old and my wife always wanted to have a great grandchild but I’m sorry she didn’t live, that, to see it, however, life goes on and we really have, we really enjoyed it.
EM: That’s good, can you tell me more about the things you used to do with your kids in Aurora, did they play sports? Things like that.
BG: Yes we used to go skating in the arena, and they used to have outdoor, well they still do, outdoor skating rinks in Aurora and I bought a snowmobile back in 1974 when the twins were 10 years old then and I used to take them back through up over the railroad tracks to the old CNR tracks at the end of Cousins Drive there. And I’d take them at night or in the daytime we used to have a lot of time. And then one time, lots of times, when the snow was deep, we used to tie a toboggan behind the car and go up and down the streets of which you could not do that today for sure. But those were the good times and we had great great neighbours and we used to have corn roasts and parties and stuff. We had a big garden on Cousins Drive and we grew a lot of vegetables, beans and carrots and beets and corn. We used to have quite a bit of corn. But we had Sheppard’s Bush which was not too far from where we lived and the raccoons used to come in at night and help themselves to the corn before we did, we finally got used to them. We had a lot of fun with the kids and then enjoyed going to school, they went to the Wells Street School which was only a few blocks from where we lived and that school now is being changed to a condominiums its all being rebuilt for condominiums. But we had a lot a lot of fun with the kids and we used to rent a place at Lake St. Peter and take them up there for 2 weeks in the summer time on this lake we had lotsa fun with them swimming and boating. And that’s where they learned how to swim and have fun and enjoy life.
EM: And, I think my last question for you is what is your most memorable moment of life in Aurora that you can think of right now? I’m sure there are lots.
BG: Oh yes. To think back on all the years I’ve been here my wife and I had, have had, lovely lovely time. We used to do a lot of travelling all, all through the Europe, and England, and Ireland, Scotland, and out West and we travelled after I retired to the year 2000. We used to do as I say, travel, and all our kids were healthy and we really enjoyed everyone of them. But there was a little downfall we had our Nancy, which was our third daughter, she had brain cancer, and she died when she was 46 years old but she was a great gal and had three lovely granddaughters that she left for us and are great gals today. So life was very very good for the Gilberts in Aurora. I can’t help but think of the good time, and with my wife being gone now for 4 years, it’s hard, life goes on. Being here at Hollandview is a great great place to be. This is 5 years now I’ve been here and I just live day by day for it and love to see what’s gonna happen the next day. And everybody is just great.
EM: That’s wonderful.
BG: Yea, it’s a great great privilege, and I can’t say more for Hollandview because my, my two of my daughters brought my wife and I over here five years ago and said now, Bud and June you’d sure like it here and we sure did and we looked at it and we put our condominium up for sale and did a big move and we never looked back. And my wife said “this is home” and she was very happy here. However, as I say, life goes on, and up, it was a real privilege. So I thank you very much for.
EM: Thank you very much for sharing all this with us. Really great stories, it sounds like you had a very full life.
BG: Yea that’s true, and as I say, I tell people here live day by day because you never know what the next days gonna bring. Boy oh boy. I’m 86 now and I’ll be 87 on November the 30th so, as I say, It’s great, very great. Thank you ever so much.
EM: Thank you
Let’s Talk Oral History Aurora Project