Saturday, October 4, 2008

Today under rainy and blustery skies, we had our apple festival in the historic Davies Orchard in the Cove.  There were displays of all the varieties of apples grown on Bowen from the four historic orchards as well as music and food.  I had an apple chicken ginger sausage with pesto mayonnaise from Alderwood Farms, and I think it was the best thing I have tasted all year.  

All of the apples on display were from trees that were more than 100 years old, and some of them, such as the trees in the Davies Orchard right in the Cove are 130 years old, planted in the early 1880s and late 1870s.  I got a chance to talk with Marion Moore, one of the daughters of John Collins, who was himself an heir of one of Bowen's original settler families.  At the Collins Farm orchard there are a variety of apples grown to this day.  Marion gave me a tour of all of the varieties on display.  Here's what we have on Bowen:

  • Yellow Belleflower (Sheep's Nose)
  • Porter
  • Gascone Scarlet (unique to Bowen now.  These apples were provided to John Collins by a Mr. Freshwater who lived on the salt water on the shore of Mannion Bay)
  • King of Tompkins County
  • Alexander King
  • Kyslo crabapples
  • Famuse
  • Gravenstein
  • Belle de Boscoup
  • Rhode Island Greening
  • Edward VII
  • Russet and Winter Russet
  • Davies Pippins
On Bowen we have five historic orchards.  In Snug Cove there are trees in the cottages planted by Mr. Davies in 1882.  On Collins Farm there are old orchards which Marion and her sister Jean look after.  Up on Hummingbird Lane, on the crest of Dorman Point is the remnants of the Dorman family orchard, now divided throughout several private lots.  Likewise, in Deep Bay the remains of a 200 tree orchard is now scattered among private lots.  This orchard was started by the Podavin family in the 1880s and later owned by the Terminal Steamship Company and later still, the Union Steamship Company.  Once the USSC broke up their lands in the 1960s, the lot was subdivided and many of the trees were cleared for housing.  Several remain however.  Finally on the west side of the island, the King Edward Bay orchard still produces apples.

It was a delight talking to Marion, who also filled me in on some questions that were lingering.  For example:
  • There was a penstock and a generator at the base of Bridal Falls in Deep Bay which the USSC built in the early 1910s.  The penstock provided power to the resort and although several of the cabins were hooked up, the company turned off the power at 11:00pm every night.
  • Mr. Malkin built the dam at the head of Kilarney Creek were it flows out of Kilarney Lake.  Malkin bought the land in 1912 from Marion's grandfather, who owned the whole of the lake and the lands that are now Crippen Regional Park.  The dam was built around 1915, which backed up the lake and flooded wetlands on the north end of the lake.  To this day, the trees that were flooded out in 1915 are standing in what is Bowen's largest wetland.  
A great day of community, history and food.