It is always tomorrow somewhere,
a new day is forever beginning …
Digging into books is more fun, at the moment, than digging into the ground, though that pleasure will come soon enough. Some digging by an early Canadian in 1811 brought us all a shot at good health, if it’s true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
This fellow found a wild apple tree on a hidden corner of his land. He dug it up and transplanted it closer to home. His first bite of the first ripe apple revealed he had the best apples he’d ever tasted. Naturally he wanted more, but there was a fly in the apple sauce. Apparently, apple seeds from apples do not produce exactly the same variety of tree as the original.
John McIntosh was stymied, the story goes, when, luckily, along came a hired hand with the missing know-how. Grafting trees was his skill, an orchard full of well named McIntosh trees soon grew on the hill. According to Ralph Nader’s book Canada Firsts, every McIntosh apple tree in the world originated from John’s lone wild apple tree near Dundas, Ontario. John lived from 1777-1846. His tree outlived him, bearing fruit until 1906.
A tale from “the good old days,” with hidden innuendoes. It surely illustrates the value of the little guy with hands-on experience, and ability to put it to work. Every McIntosh apple in our grocery shopping baskets result from John’s lone tree, and might not be if that hired hand with grafting skills hadn’t wandered onto John’s land 200 years ago. Sure, another person might have come along with the necessary experience, though that doesn’t diminish his contribution to all the Mac apple pie lovers in this land alone, let alone the world.
A tip of the hat to him, and the John McIntosh family. As was the way of the world then, the McIntoshes probably recognized the hired man’s contribution with a polite thank you. As to the likelihood of government support, I apply, from my 1930s Oxford dictionary’s abbreviations, N.B.L.
Close to the same time, Charles Saunders was rewarded for his contribution, but a pittance considering the significance of his contribution. Our government of the day rewarded him with an annual pension of $900 a year. It was increased to $5,000 a year in 1925, when Prairie farmers pressured the government because he’d changed their lives, significantly and for the better.
Sir Charles Saunders, (knighted in 1934) developed Marquis wheat. This wheat produced a higher yield than others, in a shorter season. And it made excellent bread. At his death the Daily Express of London, England, wrote: “He contributed more to the wealth of his country than any other man.”
His wheat did more for the world than we can imagine; it was a good chew too. Prairie young people didn’t know his name, but on hikes past wheat fields we’d chew his wheat when we couldn’t afford a one-cent stick of gum. Not much flavour to it, but if you swallowed it, it was food. Gum wasn’t, Mom said.
I wonder if any Grade 12 grads could put Sir Charles Saunders and Marquis wheat together? Or give the history of the McIntosh.
According to author Jack Granatstein in his book Who Killed Canadian History, there would be few, if any. “The simple truth,” he writes, “is that Canada’s public and high schools have not only stopped teaching most world history, but have also given up teaching anything we might call Canadian or national history.”
One explanation he gives is, “History is important because it helps people know themselves. It tells them who they were, and who they are; it is the collective memory of humanity that situates them in their time and place; and it provides newcomers with some understanding of the society in which they have chosen to live.”
So passing your traditions and culture, by word of mouth, from generation to generation keeps your people and their culture strong and vibrant. Our First Nation peoples did just that, and historians tell us their culture was kept alive and well by the practice for 30,000 years, or so. I wonder if ours will last 300 years at the rate we’re giving it away and letting it slip away.
(Oh, the official abbreviation N.B.L.—not bloody likely, Oxford Brit, of course.)
The best Easter card received said, “Nine leading scientists have proven rabbits cannot lay eggs. Have a Happy Easter anyway!” And the same to you!