Nelson Township was well situated for successful and profitable farming, not only because of the fertile soil and moderate temperatures thanks to the proximity to Lake Ontario, but also because it was well placed to ship produce to markets.
In the early years, shipping facilities were available at Port Nelson, Wellington Square and Brown’s Warf in what is now Aldershot. Daily shipping to Toronto, Montreal and points in between was available.
From the mid 1800s to 1988, Burlington Junction Station located at Freeman, rounded out that transportation of produce, and people by rail.
After the explosion of the Hamilton Powder Company mills on October 9th, 1884 Edward Corlett who was the former superintendant of the mills, purchased the property and planted an orchard.
It is interesting to note that some of the current residents of the now Cedar Springs Community still refer to a section of the Community as the “orchard”. On one of the fairways of the Community golf course, there remained as late at 2012 a lone snow apple tree. It was chopped down a few years ago. Apparently there remain a few others and one has to wonder if they are indeed descendants of the original orchard trees.
Fruit harvested from the orchard could have been sold locally or taken to Burlington to be shipped to markets further afield.
Harvested fruit was graded with the best, first grade apples directed to market. It was important to the financial bottom line of the orchard to find a secondary market for the seconds or poorer grades of apples.
As a matter of course in the 1800s to the mid-1900s, the women of the households would have “preserved” as much produce as they could for consumption in the winter months both for economic reasons and also because fresh produce was in very limited supply.
It was not unusual for apples to be “dried” and then “reconstituted” for use over the winter months. They could be dried in the sun, on a wood stove or in an oven. Dried apples could be used in a variety of ways including a dried apple pie. There are a number of recipes available on the internet using dried apples.
It makes sense that a commercial method of doing so would be developed and so we have the birth of evaporators. They were often built near transportation hubs allowing the prepared fruit to be shipped immediately after processing. Others were built in villages that were in proximity to orchards while other smaller ones were built right at an orchard. An advantage to the latter two was that fruit could be processed at its freshest for best results. These smaller evaporators were often converted from existing buildings. This was the case in Kilbride.
The T intersection of Thomas Street (Kilbride Street) and Rebecca Street (Cedar Springs Road) was a very desirable location. It had previously been the site of the Fountain Hotel and Joshua Worthington’s wagon making shop. According to the Halton County land records (Plan 13), in 1911 Lots 19 and part of lot 20 were sold to twin brothers, Lorne Herbert Carey and Roy Alvin Carey under the firm name of Carey Brothers.
The date of purchase is interesting in its proximity to the start of WW1 in 1914. Three years after the start up of the Carey Brothers business, the war would have increased the need to export supplies and foodstuffs to both Great Britain and Europe. Business would have been booming. Some of the senior residents of Kilbride remember the T intersection as being very dark as the buildings were clad in barn board that had darkened.
The process for apple evaporation was a complex one and we can only guess that the Carey Brothers followed the following methods. An excellent comprehensive resource for understanding the process of apple evaporation is the Farmers’ Bulletin 291, Evaporation of Apples by H. P. Gould produced by the US Department of Agriculture.
First the apples were trimmed and paired. They could be quartered, cut in rings or sliced. Time was of the essence for best results. A number of the village women worked at the evaporator no doubt doing this initial task. The fruit was bleached to prevent browning most likely by smoking it with sulphur. Heat was added to reduce the moisture until the fruit reached its desired level of dryness.
The floor of the building was often treated to prevent sticking if fruit was dropped. Two method were employed. First, although less desirable, tallow was used on the floor. This was not the favoured method as it was thought the tallow could discolour the fruit making it less attractive. A second method was to simply scrub the floors often.
Fruit that was in the drying process needed to be turned to prevent sticking and to encourage even evaporation. The next step was a curing room where the fruit was stirred periodically to help the fruit become homogeneous with drier fruit absorbing some of the moisture of the less dry fruit.
When the fruit was ready it was packing into boxes or barrels. Boxes were typically packed by hand and this could have been done by placing the apples in an orderly and attractive fashion. Each container was weighed to ensure consistency for sale.
The Carey Brothers evaporator was in business for 10 years until 1921 when the property was sold after the death of Roy Carey.
Contributing Author: Helen Callaway