Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An apple a day....

I have a feeling that this may be one of the few blogs posted today not dealing with the American election. While I am sure I could make some random contribution to the debate, this does not seem to be the forum. Perhaps a lighter topic today.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I took a drive up the Annapolis Valley on the weekend. The Valley really is one of the loveliest places to spend time in the fall. There is a different quality of light at this time of year. It is somehow softer, more diffuse. Combining this light with the leaves as they change colour can make for some spectacular scenery.

Driving through the Valley it is almost impossible to miss the number of stands or farm markets selling local apples. There is perhaps not another crop more associated with this part of the world than the apple. Whether they be the ubiquitous Gravenstine, Cox's Orange, Courtland, Russet, Spy or the new Honeycrisp, the Valley produces some wonderful apples. I have to admit, I do have a soft spot for the McIntosh apple as we are both imports from eastern Ontario trying to thrive in the Maritimes.

It is not just farmers who have made their living from the production of apples. In the heyday of apple exports in the years just before the turn of the 20th century, coopers throughout the province were kept busy making thousands of barrels which would be used to ship apples. While the apples were waiting for shipment, they were stored in large warehouses throughout the Valley. Ships would then be contracted to fill their holds with apples for delivery to Europe, America and the Carribbean. The development of railroads, manufacturing and shipbuilding were all influenced by the humble apple. Additionally, we have had facilities to produce apple juice, apple pies, apple dehydrators and both hard and sweet apple cider. Those of a certain age still speak with a mix of admiration and horror for GoldenGlow cider. Even today, we celebrate the apple through events like the Apple Blossom Festival and Ciderfest.

The image at the bottom of this post is the Acadia Steamship Pier on the waterfront in Annapolis Royal. This wharf was built with an insulated apple warehouse at the end. The walls of the building were filled with sawdust to provide a barrier from the winds blowing up the Annapolis Basin. Sadly, all that remains of this structure are some of the pilings.

All for now,
RGS

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