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The History of Apple Growing on Saltspring Island

Harry Burton

Harry Burton apple collage

Harry Burton speaks about the History of the Apple Growers on Saltspring Island.

Accession Number Interviewer Salt Spring Historical Society Address
Date October 13, 2004 Location Central Hall
Media digital recording
ID Topic


Summer 2021


Riley Donovan

HarryBurtonApples - last modified 2005
Fri, 8/6 10:40AM • 56:59
Description: An in-depth discussion of the history of apple growing on Salt Spring Island. Many specific references to families and individuals who planted orchards on the island. Some references to specific heritage breeds. Discussion of the rise and falling-off of apple growing on Salt Spring.

apples, Harry Burton, orchards, Salt Spring Island, Ruckles, Lotus Ruckle, Treggie, Caldwell, Beddis, pioneers, settlers, apple boxes, Bridgmans, Penns, Newton Pippin, Agricultural and Fruit Growers Association, wharves, transportation, heritage apples, fruit growing

Harry Burton, Unknown, Audience member

Harry Burton 00:00
Just an interesting addition to what Duncan said previously, Cobalt, the town I grew up in actually, has been nominated or voted the most historic town in Ontario. And because of that, now, after all the historical things are gone, they decided to put money into it to preserve all the history stuff. So, it was a great place to grow up as a kid. Okay, been very busy last little while obviously with the apple Fest, I planned on having a display of heritage apples here, but you'll have to just imagine it. Anyway, the other thing too, that I want to point out is I'm not sure if you people realize what an incredible Island, you're living on for Apple history. Because this island has over 250 varieties of apples. They're all grown organically, and I like to challenge anybody with a $20 bet to find any other place in North America where that happens. Because I don't believe that exists. So, we live in a pretty incredible place. You're not voting. Anyway, at the apple festival, last Sunday, we displayed 215 varieties from the island. And that was totally grown on Salt Spring Island. So, I was very proud of that. And it made quite an impression on everybody saw that. Just a few things in terms in terms of apples now, if you create a new variety of apples, this is just a little background. A new variety is created by planting a seed, any seed, you take any apple seed, and you plant it, you have a new variety. Now the odds are that that new writing isn't going to be any good. In fact, the odds are about one in 80,000, that that apple isn't going to be good. But nevertheless, to create a seed, pollen, which is like the male part goes from a blossom on another tree to a flower and the fertilizes the ovule, which is the female and creates a new seed. That seed therefore has genes from both the other tree and this tree. Therefore, it's a combination of genes from the two trees, and therefore it's a totally different seed than ever existed before. And so, research centers, all they do is plant lots of seeds, and then get the best ones, get the resources, the good resources that come out of that. Now, they can do one thing to help. One thing they can do to help us is they can choose and make sure that the pollen from one tree, which they choose to be the father is the only pollen that gets to that blossom. That's all the research centers are doing to change their odds. And that does help the odds a little bit. But nevertheless, it doesn't help them too much. So once the seeds are planted, they look for two things. Number one is vigor; they want something that's going to be at least strong and grow. And number two, then they start looking for something like a good apple. And so that's basically the process. And just a little bit of an aside here, the Apple Festival this year, we it was dedicated to a California character that could have lived on Salt Spring because he was an eccentric, he loved things that were different. And he was working in the mountains of California in the 30s. And he also was pretty incredible Apple breeder. And so just to show you the type of things he did, I brought this apple, which is one of his, that's one of the ones that he created itself. This was a year we dedicated to Albert Edder, who created at least 30 varieties of apples like this. And I'll tell you one thing when I'm in Victoria, giving tastings, I can have 20 varieties with white flesh, apples and one of red and guess which one gets taken right away. It's the red. And this chap got no recognition. Because in those years, they weren't looking for saints (?). And so he did say however, though this is apples with one day be on the finest in the tables of the finest restaurants in San Francisco, and I still believe he was correct. Now. Pardo? It's good, and it's just getting ready now. But just kind (Unintelligible)

Audience member 04:12
What's it called?

Harry Burton 04:13
That's called Hidden Rose. And, like a lot of apples, we know roughly where it came from, but we don't know much about it. Because, you know, even though this guy had 30 varieties, a lot of them have fallen away, they've just disappeared and there's people now trying to revive them, trying to find them and bring them back. But you know, we've lost some, I'm sure. But that was the climate of the time.

Harry Burton 04:41
I don't create new varieties. at my orchard, I propagate old varieties. To do that, you grab, you take a piece off an existing tree, and you graft it onto a root stock, and therefore you have an exact copy of what exists already. So that's how most apple trees are grown, and most people are doing grafting, very few people or organizations are doing the research and planting the seeds. Now in terms of the heritage variety which is what we talk a lot about on Salt Spring, that's simply a date print, you know, and they pick a date, let's say 1920, or 1900. And they everything before that is heritage, it's as simple as that. Now, the interesting thing, though, is that there were very few in fact, I don't think any research companies operating in around then. So generally, every heritage apple has been what they call a chance seedling. In other words, it was made by Mother Nature, it's just had pollen that got to a tree, possibly by a bee, the seed fell in the ground, got planted, and it grew. So, you find them growing anywhere, everywhere, and those are actually Mother Nature's gift. So that's most of the heritage apples.

Harry Burton 05:57
In terms of apples on Salt Spring, I classified them into three obvious groups. And this won't be a surprise to you, the farmers will grapple for two things for their own food for selling as a cash crop and then for apple cider for you. With apple cider, obviously, it was one way you could have juice or, or some liquid form of apple all winter, you see, whereas, that way you'd have your own control over them. Okay. I'm going to start off by reading something that was written by Andrew Stevens, who was sort of our south end apple person, I never got to meet him, unfortunately. But in 1953, they sort of closed down the Beaver Point school and he put up a little plaque on the school. And he said, to commemorate our so south Salt Spring pioneers, from diverse corners of the earth they came with nought but their strengths and their tools, they created out of a wilderness, our heritage. And now he lists Ruckle Pappenburg, Haumea, Pevine, Douglas, King Stevens, Treggie, Spikerman, Smith Collie, McClellan, McClellan, McLennan sorry Carstairs, Johnson Olson, Arnold and Fisher. And that was pretty neat. And the other thing that was neat about that, too, is that apparently, Mr. Monks, which is (unintelligible) Monks who had a farm right down in our area, which is Eleanor point, Southeast Salt Spring. And we'll talk about him a little bit later. He was the chap on the on the right here. And I didn't get all these slides made up. So, we'll have to just look at it this way. He actually lowered the slide there because he taught at the Beaver Point school. He made the, in the book 1919, he was making $58 a month. And he taught at the school. And so, they had him in 1953 lower the flag for the last time when that became a full-time day school. We tried to get this photograph identified, I went to Lotus Ruckle, and she couldn't identify the other women in it, the three women in it. So, we figured possibly as relatives, this is from across the way, because obviously, Lotus who would've been a neighbor would have would have known the women in that photograph. Okay, what I'd like to do, first of all, I think just to get some organization on this whole thing, because I found to me, it was sort of quite confusing. I wanted to make a timeline. So, I want to just sort of walk-through time and look at the various things happening at times, and then we'll go back and look at some details. So, history of Salt Spring and agriculture starts about somewhere in around, let's say, 1852, up to 1858, we're probably got a little bit of doubt on that one, when Theodore Treggie, the chap on your right here, arrived on the island, and he married a native woman from the Cowichan tribe on the left here. Suzanne Adore (?). And he a was trained horticulturist so he got things going, 1852. 1872, Henry Ruckle, settled in that area and started Ruckle farm, about 1884. Raffles Augustus Robert Purdy settled on Salt Spring, that's Mary England's father, okay. And he said up his place at 600 Beddis, and we just had them on the Apple Festival this year, so it was great to have them connected. The 1880s, relatively a large quantity of fruit produced on Salt Spring but yet, not as large as it could have been, because remember, a lot of these trees are still young, the trees are just starting to mature so they're not producing all that much. 1990s (he must mean 1890s), Vesuvius, Burgoyne, Fernwoo, Ganges and Beaver Point all had wharfs with once a week pick up by steamboats serving the Nanaimo and Victoria. So that was one of the main outlets for apples. Oh, sorry. 1890. Yes, you're right. 1892, apples were selling from two to four cents a pound. So, what I've been lucky enough here, Duncan had a few of these apple boxes, these are the famous apple boxes, this was the standard way of selling apples. And so, they held about 40 pounds, so they'd be getting somewhere around 75 cents for one of those full of apples and I've got some stories about those apple boxes.

Harry Burton 10:54
Some of the farmers that existed in this area would be Treggie with about 1600 trees, William Scott out on Fruitvale out Long Harbour about 1200, Raffles Purdy with about 1000, Henry Ruckle with about 600, Mr. Booth with 300, Mr. McLennan 350, Mr Akerman 300 and Mr. Lee, about 250. And if you look at production in that area, Henry Bullock was producing apparently about 2000 of these things a year. Mr. Ed Lee, about 2000 and Mr. Treggie, anywhere from 1800 to 2400 of those things a year, which is an incredible amount of apples, probably still have to (unintelligible) one of those farmers, the Scott brothers produced 20 tons of prune plums one year, and then dried them off to create prunes. 1892, Theodore Treggie, who sort of did a composite of the statistics and pulled together all these statistics for their reported about 30 tons of fruit growing in the area. And I think he was a correspondent somehow for this area. Anyway, he was almost like a reporter that. 1900s fruit growing carried on with profit and a ready sale for first class product, in Victorian and Nanaimo, 100 occupied farms with a population of 430. And I would have to say that from 1900 to probably 1910 was the classic, or the peak of Salt Spring apples. In 1902 they put a new Wharf in Ganges, 1903, there was a daily fruit train from Victoria to Winnipeg. And now we weren't the only ones that was supporting that, because the Spanish peninsula area also had some fruit farms that were supporting that particular train. In 1911, a small duty on U.S fruit was removed, so that it was harder for the Salt Spring farmers to compete, even though they had better quality and flavour. U.S apples were better packed, they looked better, and they were produced cheaper. And again, this was in the time when the Okanagan started to come in. 1905 was a poor fruit year, the weather was fairly wet. 1910, a new Wharf at Beaver Point. And I have a picture of that, unfortunately I didn't get the slide, I'll have to go to the archives to get a real good picture of that and then turn it into a slide. But the neat thing about this, this is right at Beaver point, right near the picnic areas. And we also see a chap on the wharf there with what looks like to me with three boxes of apples on a trolley that he's heading towards the ship with. And this picture is also on the wall over there.

Audience member 13:55
That'd be Mr Patterson (?).

Harry Burton 13:57
Okay, great. So, I'm just the collector, so I've got all people helping me here too. That's good. 1914, a conservative estimate of fruit produced on Salt Spring is 20,000 boxes worth. If you put two cents an apple that's $16,000 which is just unbelievable. Three problems facing Salt Spring orchards were obviously outside competition, which was starting to increase, transportation, and the costs of labour. And I don't think much has changed in 100 years, has it? 1915 had a splendid crop of apples, but it was said to be a liability almost, almost as a drag on the market as the prices hardly cover the cost of production and shipment. The 1920s decline of Salt Spring fruit industry due to the high shipping costs and competition from the Okanagan. The price of an apple box, just the empty apple box goes to about 50 cents, and the fruit you were selling in it only sold for maybe 70 cents, so you're looking at a margin of 20 cents. Now, interesting thing was apparently these boxes were sold in pieces. Far as a I know at Mouat's, and I remember Lotus Ruckle telling me that one of her jobs was to put the boxes, no sorry. Margaret Bapty, one of her jobs for her father, Mr. Monk was to put those boxes together. And I talked with Ted Dodge, who grew up on the Raffles Augustus farm on Beddis, his job in the 50s was to put those boxes together. And he also said that there was a jam company out of Victoria that would come through with a truck once a week. And they would buy those boxes filled with grounders from the kids for $1. And that was the way those kids made a little bit of money. And then I was happened to be talking to David Weatherall who grew up on on Salt Spring. But whose uncle was Frank Scott, and that I would love to have a slide of this but anyways, it's tough over here. Also, this is an aerial photograph of Ganges, and right up where the middle school is there's a huge orchard up in there. And that was Frank Scott's orchard, and in the 40s now. David Weatherall as a school kid would be picking up in there and also guess what, putting boxes together for his grandfather. One of the things that happened as a result of the high cost of boxes was that they started using Apple sacks so that it didn't cost them as much.

Harry Burton 16:42
Another interesting fact that I haven't been able to track down yet is that Theodore Treggie, he his farm was down on Bridgman down near the Beaver Point Hall. He actually had a wharf down there. And as far as I know, there's no photograph of that could exist, but I'm tracking down a painting of it done by I believe a Mrs. Bridgman, Briony Penn's (?), grandmother. And I'll get a photograph of that sooner or later. So that'll be the only record we have of that wharf. And that wharf, according to Lotus Ruckle, was gone by about 1928. 1932 membership in the island's Agricultural and Fruit Growers Association drops to 20 and 1932, 33, 34, and 35, the fall fair was cancelled. And so that shows you the tough times that were existing in that area.

Harry Burton 17:45
And there's a little piece in one of these articles. It says the fruit trees didn't stop bearing though because of the depression. And of course, one must admire the tenacity of such orchardists as John Papenburg. No, Pappenburger. Now he was situated between Mr. Ruckle and Mr. Monks in what's presently the Brown orchard. Mr. J. H. Monks, Charles Bettis and Raffles Purdy, Purdy's daughter, Mary, who kept up their orchard through these difficult times, and went on to post-war periods.

Harry Burton 18:30
Now, one thing that I figured might be interesting, too, is I was lucky enough to get through David O'Flynn, whose grandfather was Mr. Monks, his daily journal of Mr. J. H Monks, who had the farm down there Fernhill Farm, which is right down in our area. And he was a schoolteacher at the Beaver Point, as I said that earned $58 a month. But he was very meticulous. And just today David was telling me he came across some records, where Mr. Monks was actually listening how many singles, he needed for the roof of a little house he was building. So fortunately, this book is about a three or four year period of all the transactions in the orchard. I put these on a computer here, which I'm going to give to Mary, and we've got an incredible record of the date, the year, what was sold, how much of it was sold, what weight, what price per pound, and how much money he actually got in. And then the other thing that's really incredible is that, is he was paying, he was indicating what he bought as well. So, we have an idea of the in and out of an orchard. And sometimes the inequality that exists with that sort of thing. So, in this book, I've also got a one day sort of, I call it a day in the life of J.H Monks. And so, I'm going to read that to you. It's Thursday, April 25 1918, I believe, because it's in that book, which has got a few years on it. And it's a little hard to tell what the date is. Anyway. It starts out "cloud in the morning on the flat. left home at 5:30pm in Annie" it took me a minute to figure that out, I went to David O'Flynn. And that is the Annalosselus (?), which is the boat Mr. Monks had, down in the south end. And there's a picture of that up there. "5:30pm in the Annie for Sydney, with 10 boxes of apples reaching there at 7pm." So, it took them an hour and a half to go across. Five, six months.

Audience member 20:46
My brother bought that boat, and he had it for years. He had it (unintelligible).

Harry Burton 20:50
Wow. Okay, very neat. David says he thinks it's still on Salt Spring, the Annie. Good, I'll talk to you, I'll get that down. "This was the first trip after being wrecked in February, ran very well on the battery alone." In other words, the mag was out of whack. So he's not got any backup power on that "left Sydney at 8pm and anchored in N.S.", which I suspect is just out in North Sydney somewhere "and walk back to Sydney by road." So, in other words, he anchored at night there "stayed overnight of the, 30- of the 25th, in Sydney at Lester's place for $1.50" that was his accommodation. And what he brought with him, now he brought seven boxes of Kings number one, which he got $2 a box for. And one of those boxes would have paid his accommodation receipt. He bought two boxes of Kings number two, which he was getting $1.50 for, and he brought one box of Kings number three, which would've been a grounder type of thing for $1.25 a case. So that gives you an idea of the money that he brought in. Next day, he spent it in Victoria. He shipped the seven boxes of the number ones via the V and S. Which I figure must be a railway. Maybe the Victoria and Sydney, or something similar to that. (unintelligible) audience contribution), shipped those to Victoria. Okay, thank you. (unintelligible audience contribution about the railway). Great, hey, good sources here. He paid $1.20 for freight, in other words one of those boxes he brought over just cost him freight, to get those seven boxes into Victoria and he sold them to (unintelligible) metro of Maryland, on account of which this chap paid $4 and still owed $10. Now, it says now he shipped to H Monk which I believe was a brother, one piece of bacon which is $1.70, 4 packages raisins, which was 50 cents, 4 cakes of maple syrup, which was 57 cents. And he paid a chap Tisho something, for mending his gun $3.25. Now he bought from W.J. savory, two pounds of mangove seeds for $2.50, a dollar worth of beef sections, 50 cents for swede (?) seeds, 35 cents for carrot seeds, three pairs of overalls $2.55, one pair of boots for $7.50 and one pair of boots for Kidge for $4 and Kidge I believe was Margaret Bapty. Those girls all had nicknames, very different nicknames. He left N.S which I take it as North Sydney at 6pm reaching home soon after 7pm so it only took him an hour to get home. And that was the one day in the life of Mr. Monks. (audience contribution) North Saanich. Okay, good, which would be maybe in around where the ferry is, I'm not sure, Swartz Bay.

Harry Burton 24:01
Another interesting thing in talking to David O'Flynn. He said that his grandfather, Mr. Monks, and Dimitri Stevens, their grandfather shared a mile of common fencing which would have been right about where the Beaver Point hall is, somewhere up in there.

Harry Burton 24:23
So, I think what we should do maybe is show a few slides here. Got a few slides, not many, mostly the slides are on the wall there and I would have made more except I didn't get around to it. So, I'll just show these slides and then we'll go back. Okay, what we've got here is an exhibition of Salt Spring produce, 1919 at the Saanich fair, and the thing that got me about this is look at the geometric designs in those apple boxes, aren't they unbelievable? So, just like they did in old photographs, I got a hold of Heather Pottenger and asked her to put some colour on to these, so, okay. So, what she's done is brought these things a little bit to life, except I've got the name backwards. (unintelligible), okay, ignore the fact that that is, says something other than Salt Spring. Anyways, look at the classic arrangement of that fruit. Can you believe that display? Okay. And then we've got the name right on this one, she did three different set colour designs for me with watercolours. This is the next one and one more. And there's the third one. Just marvelous. I think that's the most incredible photographs I've seen of Salt Spring. Next. Very interesting. Ruckle farm. And I'm going to read these names here. What we've got in the bottom, on the left is Mary Ruckle. She's the wife of Daniel Henry. And Daniel Henry would have been the second Ruckle, the second generation of Ruckle, on Salt Spring. And then we've got in the middle. Helen, who is the wife of Alfred. And on the right then is Helen's mother, Mrs Marginson. Now the interesting thing about this photograph, this is actually shown in the cart down there talking to Lotus, this is a posed picture, those women never picked one apple, they were they were responsible for the house. And they were not actually farm women at all, you see in that sense, so that in those clothes, this was posed. Next. Now this is an incredible photograph, showing Sylvia Stark, the first generation of Starks on this island, and her daughter, Marie Wallace. And this is about 1930. And one of the real gems that I'm so proud of at the last Apple fest was we had Nadine Sims, speaking up at the old Stark homestead at 430 Stark Road about her family's ancestors in Salt Spring. Next. Now we've got here Jeff Scott, around 1920 in his orchard, and the Scott brothers really had a good part of Long Harbour. William had the area near Fruitvale. And apparently his orchard extended from or not the orchard but the land extended from Fruitvale all the way up to Scott point. That's where Scott point comes from. And I think Jeff had the the farm between Fruitvale and Ganges. So they covered quite a bit of the property. Next. And this is William Scott orchard on Fruitvale, from the harbour, that's looking out and it would have Long Harbor Road in the background heading to Long Harbour on your right. Trees looks fairly young, just getting established. No date on that one I can see. Next. And this is Henry Caldwell's orchard, and Clark Whims in the background. And it's up, I realized when I looked at this map up on Whims road, which is the present location, I believe of Bob Wheaton’s orchard. And Bob does have a little bit of a gully looking down from his house looking east, which I think is exactly where that location is. Even those trees are not all that well established yet. So they're producing but they're not producing a huge quantity of fruit. Next.

Harry Burton 28:59
This is a 1921 photograph down on Treggie's property. It doesn't belong to Treggie anymore. It's gone from Treggie through to the Bridgmans and now in the 20s to Cory Menhennek (?) and Cory Menhennek now would be Lotus Ruckle's step father, this is where Lotus grew up. He came here as a teenager to this property, which is down Bridgman, Wave Hill farm. Rosalie beach is now on that particular property. And I think Lotus said the very first day on Salt Spring she walked up to the school, which is up where the Beaver Point Hall is. What we've got here then are some trees on the left of (unintelligible). And on the right is a large dogwood tree. And I don't, we haven't been able to figure out exactly where it is but anyway that's on Wave Hill farm. Okay, I think that's the end, is that the end, yes that's the end of those.

Harry Burton 30:25
So, I did bring one other apple and this apple is an apple that is growing at my house but it's actually from a tree off the Treggie property. This is called the Wadhurst Pippin. And I believe this is a tree that was planted by Treggie, I can't actually verify that, but I believe it was. And it's a typical heritage apple on Salt Spring because it's not pretty. You know, I call these, country apples, if you want to sell them in the city, they got to be pretty, they want pretty apples. They don't care what they taste like, they can taste like crap. People like their Red Delicious and they love it. But on Salt Spring we want apples that taste good. So that's a Wadhurst Pippin. This is the first crop this thing has produced.

Harry Burton 31:17
(unintelligible) Okay, I'm just gonna do a few things here. One of the things I want to summarize is Theodore Treggie, because it's quite incredible. 1852 or 3, I was talking to Don Fraser, now Don Fraser is Lotus's brother; lives in Saanich. And he lived on this particular farm, of the, Treggie farm as a youngster as well. But apparently Treggie connected with a native in the Saanich area and he got some natives from the, looks like the Pauqauchin reserve, they took two canoes, and they started out to check out Salt Spring because he had permission from Governor Douglas to settle on Salt Spring. So here's this, two canoes, taking off to Salt Spring from Saanich. And they choose to go in a clockwise direction, so they hit up through Sansum Narrows, checking out the soil and location, because Treggie was actually supposedly a trained horticulturalist. Although, when I talked to Barb Lyngard, she says well, maybe but he arrived here in Canada at age 19. Maybe he wouldn't have had time to get that training. So, there's a little bit of question on that. Anyway. They start searching the whole island and guess what? They go around the whole island they circumnavigate it and get back, almost to Russell Island, which is almost where they started, get up into this area at the south of Salt Spring, near Wave Hill Farm. And they find that is the most incredible area. When he when he found that area, he said, we'll go here our people are here. So, in a half clearing they tested the soil as the sun was setting, and the results were just right. He said, this is where I'm going to settle. So, he married this Indian woman Susanna George, maybe not that quickly. But anyway, that also helped him to find a little bit of peace with the natives. So, the natives didn't bother him because he actually had a native wife and apparently this native wife, with her traditional medicines, cured him once when he was very ill. And that might have been part of their courting process. I don't know but he was smart enough to connect with her. Treggie's was an accomplished orchard, and one was with Doctor Tolmie at the Hudson Bay Company, whose farm was at Nesquali Oregon territory and whose various fruit stocks brought in from England in Germany, to the San Juans, the Gulf Islands and the lower mainland. There was a ready market for barrels of dried fruit for ship's board use. So, some of the varieties were planted were chosen for that purpose, such as the Ben Davis. And he had a total of 40 varieties growing on the farm. There was him and a partner that he connected with Spikerman ran a very successful operation. As I say they had 1600 trees. Some of their (unintelligible) were a site to witness when loaded down with fruit, the bending branches that were supported by posts with a crotch in them and they said that one tree would produce 24 boxes, like 40 pounds each. They considered the (unintelligible), and the (unintelligible) their two best apples. Now that was interesting to me, because when I realized that he was growing, Ben Davis for that particular use, it sort of rang a bell because there's a few stories about Ben Davis. I don't know if you know Ben Davis, it's not necessarily the best apple, but it keeps so well. (unintelligible audience contribution) Yeah, it drives well, and that's what this little statement meant. I remember Mr. Hedger Mr. Alan Hedger, who was a real character used to be in the market, I was lucky enough to know him. He used to say that Ben Davis, he ate when he was a kid, and he said, you know that apple was as good in March as it was in October, but it wasn't very good in October either. And he'd have a little bit of a quirk, a little bit of a smile on his face, a little bit of that twinkle that he had. He loved, he loved the markets because he could interact with people, and he had that little bit of a twinkle to his eye. Gwen Ruckle also had a Ben Davis story, and Gwen also has a picture of a painting she did in some of her early, he decided she was going to do some painting and she has a painting of a Ben Davis tree that they had on Ruckle. One of these days I'll get a slide of it, anyways, Gwen tell us about the shipment of Ben Davis that were sent down to New Zealand. When they got to New Zealand they were rejected and sent back, and they were in as good condition when they get back as when they went. (laughter) That's the type of apple you want to have. (unintelligible audience contribution) That's true, that's true, yeah.

Harry Burton 36:17
The Treggie orchard then went into the Bridgman family. Briony Penn (?) is a relative of the Bridgmans. And then as I say it went into the Cory Menhennek family, who was Lotus' stepfather. He was well known locally for making great cider. And what he did, he went over to Devon, England to get his cidermaking experience. And he got an apple press and began making good cider and he was away a lot so according to Lotus, she was one of the main cidermakers there as a teenager. Here she was running the cider plant down on, down on Bridgman Road.

Harry Burton 37:07
Now, another story that comes out of that, I once asked Harry Bapty where he met his wife, Margaret, she would have been Margaret Monk at the time, she became Margaret Bapty. They were a fun couple to be around. Anyways, they met at the Menhennek cider house down on the next street over from them. So that was an interesting thing. And I do have lots of videotape of Margaret, she was a classic character. She, smoking up a storm of course she loved to smoke even till the last minute when she was very unwell, she was still smoking, but she would be, I'd be videotaping her, asking her about the old days and she'd be telling me stories. And Harry, who was a perfect devil would be off on the side here. And he'd say Margaret, tell them about the time you were over there, you know doing this sort of thing. She'd say, be quiet, what do you know about that anyway. She was really quite crochety in some cases, but fun to be around as well. Anyway, Lotus grew up on that farm, that farm, Menhennek's farm, and then she married Gordon Ruckle in the 30s, in the 1930s. And there's a picture here, this picture here, which is on the wall there, is a picture of Gordon who's squatting down, he's quite large and Lotus on your right is quite tiny. This is 1929. The year before they got married. They got married the following year. And I have to say Lotus is one of my great inspirations for everything on Salt Spring, she is incredible. So, they obviously worked Ruckle farm for all those years, and then at the end in around 1972 when the farm was at least the ocean part of the farm was becoming a haven for motorcyclists, and that they would actually dread weekends and that's because they'd have an influx of people coming right through their farm and going down to the ocean where present Ruckle's Park is. Having parties and that, so when they had an inheritance, inheritance money to deal with, with the government, they decided to basically sell 1000 acres or so to the government as Ruckle park and that's how we (unintelligible) with Ruckle park, which is a real bonus. In the 20s and 30s when the fruit industry started to go down there were still the places like Empress manufacturing which was making jellies and jams, buying, they were buying fruit and pears and that sort of thing. And then the Sydney Canning Company, also did jams, but they ceased production in the 20s. So that was the one where place that all this fruit went to.

Harry Burton 40:06
So, I'll just read you up a few more things and then almost wind down here. 1894 fruit trees outnumbered Salt Spring residents by 10 to 1. There was, 450 people here and 4600 trees. So, we were outnumbered. I think it's happening the opposite now.

Harry Burton 40:33
1895, we were not only the first apple producing area but also the major producing fruit area in British Columbia. 1900 we had about 14,000 trees and a lot of cases, let's say about 1895, the produce was transported by rowboat across the water from Beaver Point. Fortunately, Beaver Point was the closest to, let's say the Saanich area and I know Mr. Monk had a motorboat but before him, Henry Ruckle had a rowboat, and they would actually manpower that across. From 1895 the steam ship Joan brought to Beaver Point to take produce from Victoria. And they say about 80,000, 800,000 pounds of apples were being shipped from Salt Spring by 1890. And that steamship Joan coming out of Fulford, according to Lotus Ruckle would also stop at the Treggie wharf, which is right at the bottom of Bridgman before it got to Beaver Point. So that was a way that Mr. Treggie had (unintelligible) getting his fruit. One of the other interesting stories about Salt Spring is Samuel Beddis, they set up down at the where the castle is now done on Beddis Beach. And what he did, the first year is he had apple seeds from the apples they were eating, he planted the seeds. And they grew, some of them grew, they became his rootstock. The following year, he got some sign wood sent from Ireland. And what they did with that sign wood in order to preserve it for the trip they took it and they shoved it into a potato. And in doing that it would keep the sign wood moist until it got here and once it got here then he grafted that up and created his orchard trees that way. And I have a list of his trees here but we're not going to go over that. 1917 the competition had, the fall fair had 27 varieties of apples and nine varieties of pears. The only one of those still growing is the Newton Pippin. Now one other real gem that exists is this particular book here. This book is Downey’s fruit and fruit trees of America. That's pretty incredible in itself. It was written by the brother, Andrew Jackson Downey. And then his other brother Charles revised that in 1886. The thing that's even more incredible is this was Henry Ruckle's book, and Lotus found it up in the attic of the Ruckle house a year or so before they moved and she gave it to me she said I was probably the best one to have this and boy, this is a compilation of every apple that these characters knew existed in time. And there is here, the apples take up 420 pages with about 10 apples listed per page. So, there's about 4000 Apple varieties listed in 1886. So, what a gem that, that book itself is almost 120 years old. And so, I'm gonna be the archives for that book. But I've got it.

Harry Burton 43:53
(unintelligible audience contribution) Sure, as long as somebody looks after it, that's all that counts. (unintelligible audience contribution) Yep, sounds good. Another one of I think the incredible characters on Salt Spring, there's lots of them is, Mary England, and she actually came out for a little visit during the apple festival back to her farm last Sunday, which is really incredible. Her father, Raffles, Augustus Robert Purdy, saw some signs when he was in London, England. And these signs were advising people to come to the new land, tickle the soil with the spade and it smiles with the harvest. And she that line comes right off her lips this like poetry. It's amazing. He got here 1884. He was also a teacher and he got 125 acres of land on Beddis, it's the barn that sticks out into the road if you know that that's the Beddis property right down to the ocean as well. Started to clear the land with two Japanese men and planted an orchard of apples, pears, plums, cherries, and peaches. There was a good sale for fruit until the Okanagan started producing. He made apple cider and vinegar; the cider sold for 30 cents a gallon. But then in 1924, it became illegal to sell alcoholic beverages over 8%. And his cider was 11, so that sort of put an end to that. Now another real treasure I got to is this particular letter, now this is four pages of handwritten notes by Mary England talking about her father, and his history. And that's where I got that particular information. So Linda was asked Linda, England, her daughter was actually giving this out at the apple festival. So that was pretty neat.

Harry Burton 46:08
So just a few little things to finish off here. Well, I guess we're pretty well finished, yes, I've covered everything, so I think that's it.

Audience member 46:35

Harry Burton 46:40
Yes, he did. Yep. Yes, yeah. He, I don't know how many trees we have. We don't seem to have a record of that. He was on Salt Spring 1902 to about 1940.

Audience member 46:59
Could you tell us, how are those orchards doing that were transplanted here about 12 years ago?

Harry Burton 47:07
I would say they're just withering away, myself. I'd say so, yeah. Well Bob's, Bob's doing all right. Charles is coming all right. That's the ones you mean? Yeah. Yeah, that was part of the Solon (?) river that came here. Yeah. They're doing okay. They're not they're not doing a nursery, of course, but what they have is the sign wood orchards.

Audience member 47:30
And Harry when he (unintelligible) was that one of the original (unintelligible) farms?

Harry Burton 47:40
No, actually, that was just logged in 1980 so it was, it was a forest. But Mr. Monks, is just, you know, just across the road is where Mr. Monk's property was, so it was within the orchard area.

Audience member 47:58
And Humphrey lived.

Harry Burton 48:00
Yes, he's on the property as well.

Audience member 48:01
And (unintelligible) had a wharf, he ran a wharf (?)

Audience member 48:07
Harry what is the oldest variety of apple, how old is it, and are there any on Salt Spring?

Harry Burton 48:10
The oldest variety of apple? Gravenstein is fairly old. There's a list there of heritage varieties with dates. And the Lady Apple is one that's quite old. What are some of the first three or four off that list? Tom?

Audience member 48:27
King apple.

Harry Burton 48:28
King is a little bit later, it's 1873 I believe.

Audience member 48:31
Oh this says Lady, oh 1200.

Harry Burton 48:34

Audience member 48:34
White (unintelligible)

Harry Burton 48:36

Audience member 48:37
Grambo (?).

Harry Burton 48:38

Audience member 48:38
How (unintelligible).

Harry Burton 48:40
Okay. Yep.

Audience member 48:43
Oh, Gravenstein, 1669 wow.

Harry Burton 48:45
Yeah, okay, that's the yellow Gravenstein, the red Gravenstein is a little bit later in 1800.

Audience member 48:53
They don't keep as well.

Harry Burton 48:54
No, no.

Audience member 48:57
The King, 1750.

Harry Burton 48:57
Oh, 1750, okay.

Audience member 49:05
Harry I've got a statement, not a question, this is my experience. Nowadays an apple person has to cope with at least four kinds of birds, six kinds of insects, and two diseases. And my question is, how did the old timers cope? Or are are these all sorts of new problems?

Harry Burton 49:24
I don't think they're your problems. They were always there. And you know, there's talk about diseases in here some years very poor crops, and blight etc affecting, so I think it was always there. The farmer used to state you'd plant 1/3 for you, 1/3 for the insects, and 1/3 for disease, you know. I think also people weren't as fussy. So these days when I ship apples to Victoria, I sort of have what I call city apples. So you got to look at them, no, marks no nothing but in the old days, you know, we weren't as fussy so that they could sell those apples. And Dave (unintelligible) said something the other day that really made me think and I think he's really onto something and he said, that the pioneers here live to be healthy, old ages because they ate fruit that wasn't perfect. They had a little bit of maybe disease on it, little bit of rot on it. They weren't fussy, but in doing that, somehow he figures they made themselves stronger. And you know, I think there's I think there's a little bit of truth in what he says. You know, scab, apple scab could be something that makes you stronger. So I think Dave's onto something.

Audience member 50:31
When did dwarfing (unintelligible)

Harry Burton 50:38
I can't say, I don't want to say yes, yeah. At least commercially. Yes. I'd say in the last 20-30 years, it's done because of labour. That's the only reason you dwarf.

Audience member 50:52
(unintelligible audience question)

Harry Burton 50:56
Yep. Yep. Yeah, they were standard. Most of the ones that Salt Spring a standard. I'm growing on a three quarter sized tree, which is not quite standard, but getting there. And the other thing about those trees that make Salt Spring apples so good is that you don't need irrigation, you go up into the Okanagan, and you need irrigation, period, up there, it's so dry. Here, you don't need it, you have a nice (unintelligible) every night. And I believe that makes a much better apple. So that's my reason for growing the three quarter sized treed.

Audience member 51:29
Whereabouts were the stock apples grown, were they were that big dip which used to be Atkinson's property at one time.

Harry Burton 51:36
I can't actually tell you that if that's Nadine..

Audience member 51:38
Well we came here about 40 years ago. That's where the really old, old apples that I had never seen before. And some of them were like this..

Harry Burton 51:49
In the dip? Okay Interesting, I'll have to work on that.

Audience member 51:52
Atkinson's stock road that dips like a little valley in there..

Harry Burton 51:55
Yep, okay.

Audience member 51:56
It's all overgrown now.

Harry Burton 52:01

Audience member 52:07
My mother was a biochemist and she brought us up to know how to grow strong and (unintelligible). So that's what's happening, you are eating the things that aren't as good for you. But you are building your immune system to be able to be strong to resist everything that comes, and you've got a really good immune system. So, like it jumped over and makes you strong. And the other one is how do people cope with the pests? This is just me knowing because I've been doing the research into how (unintelligible) in some areas. And I was really impressed by how they learned things, how to deal with pests. Because back in those early days, they had a lot of organization amongst each other. So, they met regularly and swapped what works for them to try out all kinds of things. And there was the Fruit Growers association, from way back, BCs Fruit Growers Association, which is all over the province but here it was pretty active they had some really good speakers come like the Apple Society has one. To teach them what some people were using. And they sound horrendous, to be honest, (unintelligible) Reverend Wilson didn't approve of using all those things. He preferred to (unintelligible) the wood, and they'd get rid of most problems.

Harry Burton 53:43
When you talk about problems are you talking about? What are you talking about? herbicides, pesticides, type of thing?

Audience member 53:49
Yes. They used all kinds of chemicals and things that they would put onto the trees or the fruit themselves (unintelligible).

Harry Burton 53:58
Okay, interesting. It'd be curious to see when we went from being an organic orchard which is what Treggie was, to a conventional orchard

Audience member 54:06
Well Reverend Wilson, was organic, that's why he was so angry but he was the disseminator of the information so he'd tell you what the government was telling you to do or what the Apple and Fruit Growers association was telling you to do, but then he'd say but he didn't know about that (unintelligible).

Harry Burton 54:24

Audience member 54:24

Harry Burton 54:28
And there's a theory too, we use chickens in the orchard and it's the same thing that the presence of those type of animals in the orchard is one of the best things you can do for the orchard. And it's interesting to talking to Lotus, when they started taking some of the pear trees out of their, out of the Ruckle in the 30s. They got into seed potatoes, seed potatoes more because they were isolated from all other potato growers. And the government was very happy. In fact, I think it was the government that initiated this. And unfortunately, according to the government, they had to start using malathion, and Lotus thinks that there's a connection with that and the death of one of the Ruckles. But she also tells a story about in the spring one year that the government phoned up in a mad bluster, finally saying don't have you used that yet if you haven't don't, because we don't want you using it anymore. So, it's like they changed their mind in midstream from yes, you have to now no, you mustn't use that sort of thing.

Audience member 55:22
Another asset that (unintelligible) is that if you have an orchard with (geese? sheep?) in it, it kept people from stealing the apples. (Laughter)

Harry Burton 55:34
Our chickens don't do that.

Audience member 55:36

Harry Burton 55:36
Yes. That's true. Tom, did you have a question?

Audience member 55:42
I was just gonna say, when we were kids we used to use apple boxes as furniture. And somewhere between then and now that habit seems to have disappeared but I can't say when it happened.

Harry Burton 55:53
Yeah. Yeah. Well, it's interesting because we had trouble on Salt Spring (unintelligible) too. Duncan, donated these for the day to use, to show, that was the only two we could find on the island. Even the farmers Institute museum didn't have apple boxes.

Unknown 56:11
One of those has written in pencil, very clearly, Caldwell's. How he got it, I have no idea.

Harry Burton 56:18

Unknown 56:18
Don't let Henry know.

Unknown 56:19
If I had to bet I would say my parents used to buy books (unintelligible)

Harry Burton 56:29
Yeah. Pretty nice.

Unknown 56:32
Any other comments or questions before we wrap up? Thanks very much, Jerry. I, all we wanted to know about apples. Thanks very much. I guess it's an ongoing project for you and the apple festival has certainly grown and we appreciate your efforts to restore some of the Salt Spring apples to their former glory. Thanks very much.