SONG News Fall 1981 no. 19
In this Issue...

9th Annual Meeting of SONG

All the nut growers were at the centre of action when they met at Ottawa, Saturday, July 25, 1981. The weather was favourable and the Ottawa Chapter of SONG responded with splendid hospitality. All who attended express a generous vote of thanks to the Ottawa Chapter.

The details of the 1981 Annual Business Meeting were as follows:
SONG President, Roy Metcalfe called the meeting to order.

The Secretary's report was given by Robert Hambleton. It was moved by Robert Hambleton and seconded by John Gordon that the reading of the previous minutes as corrected, be accepted. (Carried).

The Treasurer's report was read by Robert Hambleton (for Joyce McEwan). It was noted that there are 693 current, paid up members of SONG. Also 200 persons have prepaid for the year 1982. It was moved by Ernest Grimo and seconded by Nora Creyke that the Treasurer's report as audited by the SONG Auditor (Joyce Branston) be accepted. (Carried). A supplementary motion was moved by John Sankey and seconded by Doug Campbell that a list of deferred financial liabilities (such as the NNGA Book Account, prepaid memberships etc.) be included in future reports from the Treasurer.

It was accepted by the members in attendance that the fall meeting should take place at the farm of Andrew Dixon (near Ailsa Craig) on October 24, 1981 starting at 12:00 noon. It was suggested that the Annual Meeting for 1982, the 10th anniversary of the establishment of SONG should take place in the Niagara Peninsula somewhere close to the vicinity of the Niagara Nut Grove.

John Gordon gave the report of the Nominating Committee in the form of the following nominations for the officer positions for the 1981-82 operating year.
President - Roy Metoalfe
Vice President - Tom Sandham
Treasurer - Joyce McEwan
Secretary - Robert Hambleton
Editor - Douglas Campbell
Directors - Alec Cobden Jones (by constitution), Alex Mosseler, Ernest Grimo
Auditor - Joyce Branston
Since there were no other nominations from the floor the above slate of officers were elected by acclamation.

It was moved by Alec Cobden Jones and seconded by Angus Campbell that last year's nominating committee continue on in that same capacity into the 1981-82 operating year. (Carried).

Mac Curzon gave a brief report on the municipal taxation status of nut tree farms. Apparently such farms can be recognized at the agricultural taxation rates as soon as there is apparent evidence that consistent farming practices are being followed.

The question of financing the publication of a SONG Handbook (separate and apart from the SONG News serial covering nut growing practices) was deferred to a future date. Current levels of reserves in the treasury do not allow such an ambitious undertaking at this time ... approximately $4,400.

It was moved by N. Creyke and seconded by R. J. Scally that the annual dues of SONG be raised to $5.00 per year for regular membership. (Carried). It is to be noted that advisement of this proposed motion was carried in the spring, 1981 edition of SONG NEWS.

The business portion of the Annual Meeting was adjourned at 2:35 p.m., July 25, 1981. Trevor Coles, Curator of the National Arboretum, Ottawa, provided a very informative tour of the many trees planted on the Arboretum grounds. There were numerous nut trees and the nut pines were of special interest. It is noteworthy too that a pecan tree is proving to be quite hardy at that northern location although numerous native tree species had shown some considerable winter damage coming out of the 1980-81 winter. Trevor Coles is extended a very generous thank you for providing an exciting and interesting tour for the 1981 Annual Meeting.

Get Me to the Church on Time

When your SONG Editor was courting Myrtle Sheron some 14-17 years ago, he had the opportunity of travelling many times through the fertile farmland country of Essex County from Windsor to Leamington. Among other things of notable interest along the way, there were the numerous nut trees ... black walnut, shagbark hickory, shellbark hickory, butternuts, and of particular interest was the row of ancient Persian walnuts at Olinda. Also there were the two unusual butternut trees and the several black walnuts at the Whittle ranch itself. The butternuts were the favourite trees of Jack Whittle who was known on occasion to crack out a pan full of these delicious little gems to garnish a batch of chocolate or maple fudge or perhaps even a Christmas cake. Just the thought of such deep ancestral roots in nut growing caused the young man to wonder what could possibly go wrong with the pursuit of further arrangements?

As the years rolled by, my curiosity in the various Essex County nut trees increased ... particularly the row of Persian walnuts at Olinda. I had passed dozens of nut trees many times, to the point that I had memorized their locations, but there just never seemed to be the right opportunity to stop and examine their harvests. There were always more important things to be done....

On June 29th, 1967 Myrtle Sheron and Robert Douglas were to be married. The sun rose brightly on that day. Charles, brother of Sheron was chosen to be best man. As the appointed hour approached, Charles escorted Douglas in a speedy sports car to the church ... the little white church at Olinda. When we got out of the swift little machine, we realized that there were several moments to go before the beginning of the ceremonies. Brother Charles with a sly grin in his voice motioned at the row of Persian walnuts immediately adjacent to the church yard and queried ..."Doug, do you think we have enough time to see what's on those nut trees?" Douglas was tempted severely by the suggestion but felt that the better part of discretion required proper attention to the major event of the day.

The bride arrived and with the traditional, slightly nervous excitement, the ceremonies proceeded in accordance with the carefully rehearsed plan. The festive occasion followed and then it was onward to the honeymoon in the great, golden West. On the way westward we passed the row of Persian walnuts ... again, just no time....

It was not until three years later that some time was set aside to be at the Whittle ranch at the correct harvest period for the two big butternut trees. The crop was plentiful and the quality was high. Sheron and Douglas gathered more than two large grocery bags full of husked butternuts. However, because of our usual scarcity of time, we just didn't get around to cracking any of the nuts until three years after their collection. It was getting to the point where there was concern whether the nuts were going rancid. When we finally did crack them, they were simply delicious ... if anything a case of getting better rather than just older! Every kernel and even the fragmented pieces were cherished. One of the two butternuts was a particularly good cracker but the kernels of the other were somewhat difficult to extract.

It was some years later when we came to the realization that the Whittle butternuts were more likely to be buartnuts rather than pure butternut. Apparently father Jack Whittle had obtained these two trees from the Duke estate at Olinda ... just across the way from the farm with the row of Persian walnuts.

Apparently the Dukes had been known for experimenting with unusual types of trees. The Whittle buartnuts had been dug up as chance seedlings which had emerged in the vicinity of producing heartnut trees, black walnuts and butternuts ... several of which are still standing today.

The farm across the road contains some fascinating historical secrets too. Somewhat accidentally, I discovered from some old Annual Reports of the Northern Nut Growers Association (NNGA) going back to the early 1920's, that a chap by the name of Grant Fox was responsible for planting the row of Persian walnuts at Olinda. Where he obtained the seed, one can only conjecture. It is possible that he may have purchased seed via the Crath, Carpathian expeditions which got under way in the early 1930's. However, the Foxes of Olinda were a colourful group and there were successors to the nut growing traditions such as Ezra Fox who was known familiarly to the neighbours as old Ez.

The Persian walnuts of Olinda are now in a state of decline ... perhaps owing to atrazine saturation from the adjacent corn field and definitely because of advancing age. There are also a few black walnuts in the row which may indicate that at one time there were a few grafted Persians which were placed on black walnut rootstocks which subsequently "escaped". The nuts of the black walnuts are very remeniscent of the "Thomas" cultivar indicating that the Foxes may have had links with the early nut growers of Pennsylvania. ("Thomas" seedlings carry on many of the superior and vigorous characteristics of the parent tree and have been favourites for grafting to Persian walnut. The "Thomas" was discovered in the mid 1880's.) Evaluation of these Persian walnuts has shown some interesting types. There are several which top the 50% kernel mark which is an achievement for any of the nut species. Of course the local neighbours have always enjoyed quantities of the nuts since the trees were planted in the middle of a fence row and half of the nuts fall on the right of way for the road.

It tantalizes the mind to wonder by what routes these Persian and black walnut trees came to be established? How many adults (and children from the public school across the way) have stopped and lingered for a few moments to enjoy some of the golden little nuggets? How many crows, squirrels and blue jays have nourished their young on the nutty goodness? Whatever their secrets, the remaining nut trees of Olinda stand as surviving sentinels of more than a half century of nut growing in Ontario.

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