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A winter ball of a different kind


November 30, 1999
By Marg Land


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When one thinks of spherical objects in the wintertime, snowballs typically come to mind.

When one thinks of spherical objects in the wintertime, snowballs typically come to mind.

But the Ontario Apple Growers (OAG) are hoping to fight against that conditioned response with the first ever Winter Apple Ball, scheduled for Feb. 21 at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto, Ont.

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The event, set for Family Day, will feature arts and crafts, dancing, games and inflatables for the little kids, a sports cage, trivia competitions and – one of the key attractions – a Guinness World Record attempt for the most people bobbing for apples.

The celebration is being held to help mark the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the McIntosh apple. Believed to be a descendant of the Fameuse or Snow apple, the McIntosh was discovered by John McIntosh on his farm near Dundela, Ont., located just north of the St. Lawrence River. According to folklore, while clearing trees from his land, McIntosh came upon 20 small apple trees. He transplanted them to a different part of his property and was surprised when one bore fruit that was much better than the others. With the prompting of friends, he decided to name the apple the McIntosh Red. McIntosh reproduced the tree and taught his son Allen how to graft and bud. Allen travelled throughout Ontario and distributed trees among the many locals he met along the way. He also taught them grafting and budding, and eventually, he started his own tree nursery.

The original McIntosh tree was damaged by a house fire in 1894 but still continued to produce fruit for more than 90 years. It died in 1906 and a plaque marks the place where it once stood.

It’s said that every McIntosh tree in the world can be traced back to that original tree on John McIntosh’s farm. And many of North America’s most famous apple varieties – including Cortland, Spartan, Empire, Macoun, Melba, Lobo and possibly even Paula Red – have the McIntosh as one of their parents.

Rumour has it that Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and the Mac computer, named the company after the McIntosh apple after spending a summer working on a friend’s apple orchard.

Not bad for a little apple from Eastern Ontario.

Apple enthusiasts from across the province are invited to take part in the OAG’s McIntosh celebration by attending the Winter Apple Ball. The group is partnering with Toronto’s Second Harvest, an organization that feeds people in need. In light of this, attendees are asked to bring their favourite type of Ontario apple to the event for donation to those in need.

For more information, visit the website www.onapples.com.

Of course, the Winter Apple Ball isn’t the only event growers have an opportunity to take part in. Winter is the time for fruit and vegetable organization annual meetings and conventions across the country. And Fruit and Vegetable Magazine hopes to see many of you during our travels. We will have representatives at the Scotia Horticultural Conference and Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association Annual Convention, both being held in late January at Wolfville, N.S. We will also be attending the Ontario Processing Vegetable Industry Conference, Manitoba Potato Production Days, the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Convention plus the B.C. Tree Fruit Horticultural Symposium, this last scheduled for early March.

Safe travelling!