By : Dennis Stein
No, I'm not talking about the computer, I'm talking about apples. The early history of our nation is full of small surprises if you look around, and a United Empire Loyalist who settled in Dundas county in a place which is now Dundela after being awarded land for his service to the British crown gave Canada something very special. The man's name was John McIntosh, and one day in 1796, he was clearing farmland on the property near his house when he discovered a small clump of apple tree seedlings amongst the bush. As there were few settlers at the time, and life was very hard for the Loyalists, John saved these seedlings, replanting them close to the farmhouse, most likely hoping to provide another means of feeding his family. All but one of the trees died, leaving a solitary survivor which proved to be a very hardy variety of winter apple. It grew well, bearing fruit for many years, and the family collected the harvest of this single tree, apples with a beautiful red colour. It wasn't until John's son Allen grew up, that the apples became very famous. He began a nursery, selling shoots of the original tree, which became widely known in Ontario. All McIntosh apples throughout the world are a direct result of that single native apple tree, and its taste and colour are revered worldwide.
When the tree became old, having beared many seasons of fruit, tragedy nearly claimed it. The Farmhouse at Dundela burned to the ground in 1893, the heat and flames destroying half of the ancient apple tree. Still the tree endured, giving fruit for more than a decade more before finally dying one summer 15 years later. The 'McIntosh Red' was finally gone. It is now honoured by a sign which reads: The Original McIntosh Red Apple Tree Stood about twenty rods north of this spot. It was one of the number of seedlings taken from the border of the clearings and transplanted by John McIntosh in the year 1796, Erected by Popular Subscription, 1912.
Smyth's Orchard resides near Dundela between Iroquois and Morrisburg just north of highway 401, still continuing early traditions and providing tours of their nearly 100 acres of orchards. It is a family business, and works to preserve the famous names of John and Allen McIntosh, another piece of early Ontario history nearby. For more historical articles, point your browser to www.thefineprints.blogspot.com.