News Release Archive

Apples large and small, rare and unusual are on display at
Prescott House Museum, Starr's Point, near Wolfville Oct. 1 to 15
and on Oct. 3, 10 and 14. Visitors can learn how to make apple
cider the traditional way, using the old apple press.

Prescott House Museum holds the display annually to remember the
efforts of Charles Prescott in developing the apple industry in
Nova Scotia.

Mr. Prescott was responsible for bringing over 100 varieties of
apples into the province, including the famous gravenstein.
Gravensteins were a 20th-century favourite and only a handful of
places worldwide have the right conditions to grow the variety.
Out of these select suppliers, Nova Scotia is reputed to grow the

Mr. Prescott invited farmers to his orchards to learn how to
graft their trees. They were encouraged to take home buds and
scions of the new varieties at Prescott's orchards that struck
their fancy. At least 27 varieties of apples were grown in Mr.
Prescott's orchards prior to his death in 1859. Last year's
display had 45 varieties of apples in the sun-room of this
historic house.

After Mr. Prescott died in 1859, apple farming became an
important industry in Nova Scotia. For example, in 1933 alone
over three million barrels of apples were grown in Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia apples were sent to Cuba, the West Indies, France,
Belgium and the Netherlands. However, the apple industry depended
mostly on the English market, with 85 per cent of the fruit going
to Britain.

Ernie Merrett, a resident of Port Williams, remembers the area
when the apple industry was still going strong. "There were many
huge orchards, apple trees wherever you looked. Not the dwarf
[trees] you see today but the old standard-sized trees. You
needed a 22 foot ladder to get at them."

Mr. Merrett worked in the juicing plant, the grading plant and
the evaporator in Port Williams as a young man. "There would be
thousands and thousands of barrels stacked three tier high. We'd
tear them down and dump them into the grading machine. The ships
would come right into the port and take about 20,000 barrels. It
was a busy place."

But by the end of the 1940's the apple industry was floundering.
The number of trees had dropped by half a million. The federal
government offered a $4 million grant for wheat, but the farmers
could not meet the conditions. Nor did Nova Scotia have an
overseas representative to sell its apples in Great Britain.

The Second World War brought the apple industry to a grinding
halt, and it never picked up the same momentum again. Mr. Merrett
said, "People were disappointed, but [the farmers] pulled out the
trees with dozers and levelled the ground for mixed farming."


Contact: Caroline Power    902-542-3984

         Sheila Stevenson  902-424-6523

trp                Sept. 26, 1996 - 10 a.m.