Our mother Dorothy (Dimps) Irene Chantler was born on October 21, 1928 in London, Ontario. In 1946 she and her best friend Carmen Benedict successfully applied to become Farmerettes and both were sent to Kingsville, for work that summer. We believe she and Carmen stayed at the Casino residence as we have pictures of this building in our family photos.
At the same time our father Stanley (Nats) Russell Gregg, born in Toronto January 21, 1926, had applied to work at Camp Harrow for the summer of 1946. On the morning of July, 3rd. 1946 he and his team were assigned to work for the day at the same potato farm with our mother and Carmen. Both girls noticed two good looking boys working together, and Dorothy said she wanted to meet he tall handsome one! At 7 am. that day Mom and Dad met of the first time. Dad described the meeting as two sweet potatoes in a bag. I am sure their meeting made the hard tasks for the day, just a bit easier.
They have many happy photos from the Kingsville Lakeside Park and they spoke about attending dances on Saturday nights. Their favourite song was Day by Day by Doris Day and the song would help keep them connected when apart. They wrote to each other several times each month, during the fall of 1946,throughout 1947 and till June 1948. I am not sure when the engagement happened, but they so valued their original meeting date of July 3rd , that it became their wedding date in 1948. They could only afford a small wedding, with a reception at the home of Montague John Gregg (Stan’s father) in Toronto. They stayed one night at the King Edward Hotel, a wedding gift from our Dad’s brother Victor Gregg. Of note in 1989, 50 years later they booked the same hotel for a one night stay, to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. They brought in the original receipt from 1948 and were given the same room at a special rate with champagne and a cheese and fruit tray to celebrate the special occasion.
We believe Dad worked on a farm in 1947 in the St.Catherines area for a total of three years of service and Mom was involved with the Farmerettes in 1944, 45 and 46.
In later years , at the time of my brother’s wedding in 1982, it was discovered that his new mother-in-law, Pat (Dewan) Wilson was the Dietitian at the Kingsville Farmerette residence in 1946, while Mom was in staying on site. Dad credits her for the quality of the meals the girls were served! My four nephews know about this dual family connection and will help share this Farmerette story, and the broader historical importance.
As a retired Dietitian my early interest in cooking and food may have been influenced by the stories that Mom and Dad had told us about their service at the Boys' Brigade Camps and Farmerette camps, which led to my future Healthcare career.
After more than 70 years together our parents both passed in 2019 ( 6 weeks to the day apart) and in preparation for their funerals and reviewing household collectables we found many items tied to the Farmerette story: