200 years of McIntosh apples

McIntosh may be one of the better-known apple varieties in the Northeast. (Maybe of the world?) But did you know it’s a local success story?

The Wikipedia entry on John McIntosh says he was born in 1777 to a Loyalist family living in New York’s Mohawk Valley. This page with two Ontario historical plaques states John McIntosh came to what was then Upper Canada in 1796, settling near present-day Dundela, Ontario.  According to the Wikipedia article,

While clearing his property, McIntosh discovered a number of seedling apple trees growing wild. He transplanted them to his garden, and by the following year only one had survived. Several years later, the tree was producing the crisp, delicious fruit that is now well known. The discoverer eventually dubbed it the ‘McIntosh Red’, which is still the apple’s official name.

McIntosh farmed the original property until his death, sometime between September 19, 1845 and January 10, 1846

Sadly, the CBC today is reporting that the last-known first generation graft from that original McIntosh tree was felled this summer – a casualty of age and the hot, dry weather. All was not lost, however. According to the story:

Before the tree was cut down, horticulturalists from Upper Canada Village in nearby Morrisburg, Ont., paid a visit to the orchard and took a dozen twigs from the tree and grafted them to root stock.

Brian Henderson, the lead horticulturalist with Upper Canada Village, said three of the plants have taken root and are now growing outside in a fenced garden at the heritage park.

Henderson said he was hoping more would trees would grow from the cuttings but said he’ll do his best to keep them thriving.

“When they are tall enough we will transplant them into the village and to the orchard,” said Henderson.

The article also reports that the community of Iroquois is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the McIntosh on September 17.

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