Bronte Villa Farms And Orchards

The following letter appeared in the Hamilton Evening Times of October 27, 1902:

There is very pleasantly situated on the shores of Lake Ontario, in the county of Halton, one mile west of Bronte, one of the best grain, stock, and fruit farms in the Dominion of Canada, comprising 350 acres, owned and worked by Wm McCabe, Esq., manager of the North American Life, under the able, efficient, and trustworthy management of Mr. J. M. Chrysler, who has had its main supervision for the last eight years. In looking over this very valuable farm, one is led to believe that the owner has a very deep and well-filled pocket, as on every hand it is shown that no pains or expense have been spared in having everything up-to-date and of the very best. In addition to Mr. McCabe’s large villa, there are other four residences, which are occupied by persons engaged on the farm, each and any one of which would be a credit as a Proprietor of Bronte Villa Farms and Orchards, farm residence to any one hundred acres of land in Canada.

The barns are large and roomy, with stone basements fitted up for fattening cattle in winter, with windmills to each, for pumping water and furnishing power for chopping grain. Alongside each barn there are built very large silos, some half dozen in all, with capacity for holding seventy or more acres of corn. Mr. McCabe is a firm advocate of draining and manuring the land, and for the latter purpose he fattens yearly large herds of steers. Last winter he fed 119 head. I had the pleasure of inspecting them a few days before they were sold, and must say I never saw as fine a lot (considering the number) owned by any one farmer. And Mr. Chrysler deserves much praise for the good taste used in selecting the present herd (142). Last year’s herd were first dehorned and graded. The large roans were bunched loose, 15 or 20 in one compartment. A grade smaller was treated the same, and a like division was made with the reds. They were sold in May at $6.40 per 100 lbs., live weight, and shipped to Liverpool, realizing at Bronte the nice sum of $10,343, an average of $88 each. In the feeding and bedding these cattle, and other stock, Mr. McCabe, in addition to what he produces on his own land, purchases hundreds of bushels of grain, and hundreds of tons of hay and straw, from farmers in the county, many of whom reside twenty and more miles distant, thus greatly enriching his land. Of his grain crops this season, he had fifty acres of corn for enriching silo, the growth of which gave evidence in a remarkable degree of the benefit of a good dressing of manure from well-fed bullocks. There were sixty acres of oats which realized sixty-five bushels per acre. And many acres of barley that gave like good results. Of hay there were over two hundred tons housed. There are eighty-five acres of apple orchards, besides many acres of different kinds of berries. As shown, the apple crop is the principal one, and the present one is abundant, a good yield, and the sample equally good. Mr. McCabe gives great attention to spraying his fruit trees. First, and the most important, he sprays the roots by shallow ploughing under clover and a good coat of rich barnyard manure, and afterwards the foliage is sprayed three to five times with mixtures, recommended by the Ontario Government, and the present crop of apples visibly shows the good effects of said treatment. I may mention that an experiment was made last April by boring a half-inch hole in the trunk of several apple trees to the depth of about three inches, and the hole filled with sulphur and plugged, and the present crop on those trees shows that the experiment was a good one. To ensure the best market for his apples from year to year, Mr. McCabe has recently erected a model frost-proof apple house, under a plan or system adopted by 0. T. Springer, Esq., an extensive apple-grower of Burlington, and which Mr. Springer has very successfully used in carrying his apple crop through the winter months, with no injury from frost, for the last fifteen years. I may say, too, that I have similar rooms in which I have kept large quantities of apples and vegetables during the winter season for the last twenty years, with like good results. It may interest, and, I trust, benefit the apple-growers to know how this building is constructed. It is eighty feet long and thirty wide, with capacity for holding nearly 10,000 bushels. The foundation and floor is one solid concrete bed, with balloon frame. On the outside and inside of the 6-inch studding there is tacked tar paper. The outside is boarded with novelty siding, the inside with matched and undressed flooring. To this there are placed other 4-inch studding. Another thickness of paper, and sided up with matched and dressed flooring, thus forming two air-tight spaces, one of four, the other of six inches. All doors and windows are made double, and thoroughly packed with selvage, and made as tight as possible. There are four air-ducts running up the six-inch studding from the floor in the loft, and along the rafters, to ventilators at the peak of the roof. There are doors at the mouth of these air-ducts that may and should be left open in mild weather, and closed when very cold.

On each side of a driveway, ten feet wide, through the centre, from end to end, there are eight bins, each nine feet square. The apples are placed in these bins in tiers 2 1-2 feet deep. There is a two-inch air space under the bottom, and at the sides and back. The boards for the bottom, the partitions and the back are six inches wide, and half an inch apart, so that there may be a free circulation of air on every side of the apples. There is a loft overhead that will hold fully sixty tons of hay. The building has cost about $1,200, and Mr. McCabe feels sure it will repay the outlay the present season, in the extra price he will get for his apples, in being able to hold them until late winter or early spring. I may mention that two years ago, when apples were so very plentiful, all I was offered in the autumn for mine was $1 per bbl. I put them into store, and sold them in February at $2.40, with not three per cent. waste. If every apple-grower in Canada had a building similar to the one described, of a size sufficient to hold what apples he may grow from year to year, it would add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the value of Canadian exports, by having six months instead of six weeks to market his crop.

Purchasing and dealing in apples has been and is now a game of chance, and very much of a gambling transaction, as mostly all the fruit must be got to market before cold weather sets in. Consequently hundreds of thousands of barrels of Canadian apples are forced on congested European markets, and as a consequence many, very many are sold at a loss. Yes, many consignments have not realized enough to pay ocean freight. How different it would be could the grower keep his apples and have a few months in which to make sale. I am, faithfully,

(H. H. HURD). Hamilton, October 27th, 1902.