New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Francis Sharp’s Woodstock Apples

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Francis Peabody Sharp was born in 1823, and died in Woodstock in 1903. He was a pioneer apple-grower in New Brunswick, and established a large enterprise in Woodstock at a time when few others were interested in apple-growing as a business. He is especially remembered for his production of new apple varieties, and for propagating apples by a variety of methods.

The following description of Sharp’s operation was written in 1900 by W. Albert Hickman, and is taken from his Hand Book of New Brunswick (Canada) which was commissioned by the Crown Lands Department in Fredericton. Hickman entitled it Apple Raising in Carleton County, but I will call it Francis Sharp’s Woodstock Apples.

Franncis Peabody Sharp

Francis Peabody Sharp

From the Carleton County Historical Society, Inc.

Francis Sharp’s Woodstock Apples

Under this heading I wish to refer to the famous Sharp Orchard in Woodstock. The orchard in question is situated, out of town a short distance up river. I visited it on October the ninth after the last of the apples had been gathered. It lies on the westerly slope and the orchard and nursery together cover in all something over one hundred acres. Mr. Sharp, the proprietor of this orchard, has raised apples in New Brunswick for a great many years and has studied the peculiarities of the climate and this subject most carefully. Thus he is in a position to speak authoritatively regarding the possibilities and prospects of fruit raising in the Province. A hundred-acre farm is nothing to be despised, but a hundred acre orchard is really an enormous affair. To give some idea of it, Mr. Sharp informed me that personally each season he pruned about one hundred miles of trees. Each acre of this will yield about one hundred barrels of apples on the poorest years and each good year two hundred, the good and poor years alternating. This may be considered a steady yield, giving an average of one hundred and fifty barrels of apples per acre per year. The varieties which Mr. Sharp raises are the “Crimson Beauty,” “The Wealthy,” and “The New Brunswick.” He also raises a few “Famuse.” The “Crimson Beauty” is a hybrid originated by Mr. Sharp. It is the result of a cross between the “Famuse” and “The New Brunswick.” He has succeeded in getting all the qualities of the “Famuse” with the hardness and keeping qualities of “The New Brunswick.” The hybrids are remarkably productive and very showy, but according to Mr. Sharp, lacked quality as far as flavour was concerned. In the season of 1899. Mr. Sharp raised 1,700 barrels of “Crimson Beauties,” 800 barrels of “Wealthies,” and 1,300 barrels of “New Brunswicks.” Of these he informs me that he got $3.00 a barrel at the orchard for the “Crimson Beauties,” without having to pay any cartage or freight. All the “Wealthies” were sold for $0.50 a barrel at the orchard and the highest price received for No. 1 “Wealthies” was $2.25. The “New Brunswick” apples brought something over $1.00 a barrel. A considerable portion of Mr. Sharp’s land is in nursery. In the season of 1899 he had no less than 80,000 trees in one lot and 70,000 in another in his nursery. Of fruit bearing trees in the orchard proper here are about seventy acres now, carrying three hundred trees per acre, giving a total of 21,000 trees. When asked about the expenditure connected with maintaining an orchard of this size, Mr. Sharp gave us the following particular:— The expenses for the cultivation alone amounts to about $300,000 a year, it costs $100.00 to spray the trees, this spraying being done to keep away the codling moth and canker worm. He could not tell me accurately what the manure cost. Two men besides himself were required to do the work until the time came for gathering fruit, when sixty hands were needed. Often it is difficult to get a sufficient number of men at this season, in 1899 only thirty-five being procurable. Pruning costs $50.00 a year for a few years, and then that expense terminates. Each season it costs fifty cents a barrel to get the fruit picked and packed and taken to the station. Mr. Sharp is most enthusiastic about New Brunswick as a country for fruit raising. He says that nowhere are the blossoms hurt less frequently by the frost as here. “Summer bursts upon us so suddenly,” he says, “that the frosts have no time to injure the blossoms, the weather being comparatively warm before they are developed. I have been fifty years raising apples in New Brunswick and I have never lost a crop. Among the many advantages which the Maritime Provinces present, the frequent showers are not the least important. Between the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic frequent showers are the rule throughout the growing season. I remember,” said Mr. Sharp, “visiting the Eastern and Middle United States a few summers ago. There was a great drought and everything was burned and dried out. When I returned to the St. John River Valley it seemed greener by contrast than I had ever seen it before. There is nearly twice the sunshine in this country than is to be found in England. Why,” he continued, “when I started here with the intention of raising apples, it was not believed that apples could be raised at all in the country and not a single barrel had been raised here. Now, they are cheaper here than anywhere in the world and I have seen all this change in only one lifetime, and I do not believe that this section is nearly as well adapted to apple raising as is the Sussex Valley. I have proven this by sending some of my trees and seeds of some others to General Williams at Sussex. When I visited that section a few years later the markets of the vicinity were supplied almost entirely with apples raised from these same seeds and trees and came from General Williams’ orchard. They were finer than my own, proving that the valley could raise better apples and a greater quantity than I could here.”

The shiretown of Carleton County is Woodstock, situated about sixty miles above Fredericton on the left side of the St. John River at the mouth of the Meduxnakeag. Woodstock is a progressive and fine looking town. Sloping down to the river, is the site of several manufacturing industries and necessarily a great farming country. Its public buildings are a credit to the place and there are many fine residences. It is situated about fifteen miles from the town of Houlton, in Maine, and lies on the Canadian Pacific Railway. There are two methods of reaching Woodstock from Fredericton, independent of the river route. One is along that portion of the New Brunswick Railway now operated by the Canadian Pacific Railway which runs up the Keswick Valley on the east side of the St. John River and from Newburg Junction to Woodstock. The other is via McAdam Junction and through the town of Dubec in Carleton County, this line running on the west side of the Saint John River. From Woodstock there are railway lines practically in four directions, one running up the Saint John River, one to the eastward and down the Keswick Valley towards Fredericton and thence down river, one westward into Maine and the fourth almost directly southward through southern and western York County to McAdam Junction, from where lines leading to the United States and different parts of New Brunswick can be connected with. From this it can be seen that Woodstock is well situated as far as its transportation facilities are concerned.


Written by johnwood1946

September 16, 2015 at 9:19 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. I really enjoyed this article. I wonder if my grand-father ever picked apples there, he went out to Saskatchewan to work as a thresher in 1901. My family lived on the 3rd Tier (near Jacksonville) for 2oo years and I think some of them must have seen these apples in bloom, what a sight that must have been! Thank-you for sharing this article, Francis Sharp must have been a visionary in the apple industry!

    Donna van Eeghen

    September 16, 2015 at 7:49 PM

  2. Gréât read …. ThankYou .

    Claudia saint pierre

    September 19, 2015 at 10:02 AM

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