The End of the Corsan Story

Kathryn Lamb spoke on George Hebden Corsan at the 80th annual meeting of the Northern Nut Growers Association at Brock University, St.Catharines, on August 8, 1989. At the time that her previous articles on Corsan ran in SONG NEWS (Fall 1976, Spring 1977 and Fall 1978) she was unable to verify when and how his death occurred. The conclusion was presented in her talk.

Canada's Nut Man Killed in Florida

MlAMl, Jan. 31, 1952: George Hebden Corsan of Toronto, the man who rose from fruit peddler to fame as Canada's nut man, died today in hospital of injuries suffered when he was knocked down by a car. He was in his 95th year, an age he credited to a life of strict vegetarianism.

Highway Patrolman M.J. Wilder said Corsan, who amazed his doctor by surviving a broken neck last year, was struck at Shark Key Viaduct on the overseas highway.

At his death bed was his third wife, Lillian Armstrong, 60 year old retired school teacher whom he married here a year ago.

Corsan divided his time between his nut farm, Echo Valley, lslington, Ontario, and a citrus plantation in South Miami.

Corsan was born near Niagara Falls, N.Y., in 1857, the son of a banker. His maternal grandfather was Canon Hebden of the Church of England in Hamilton, where the family moved when he was a boy. He ran away from home at age 14 and worked as a farm hand until his early 20s. During this period he developed a dislike for meat and dairy products.

While studying at St.Louis (Missouri) Hygienic College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1890, he was bitten by a copperhead snake and nearly died. He returned to Toronto where he became a fruit peddler and champion swimmer. He joined the Northern Nut Growers' Association in 1912 and was a member, except for a period between 1930-35, until his death. He often spoke of his work at the conventions.

Corsan became an indefatigable writer on the subjects of health, physical fitness and vegetarianism (Saturday Evening Post, Forest and Stream, Family Herald and Weekly Star, Toronto Globe) and lectured widely on the same subjects. He was the chief crusader in the fight to make Canadians nut conscious.

His primary occupation was growing nuts and fruits. On his 25 acres in Islington he cultivated 15 species of nuts and nearly 400 varieties. In Florida he had five acres of avocados, coconuts, bananas and macadamia nuts. Following cremation his ashes will be spread in lslington and South Miami.

He is survived by two daughters and four sons: Mrs. Olive Anthes, Florida; Mrs. Gordon Hoffmann, Aurora, Ontario; Capt. George Corsan Jr., Toronto; H. H. Corsan, Hillsdale, Michigan; Wilfred H. Corsan, Detroit, Michigan, and E. E. Corsan, lslington, Ontario.

- Kathryn Lamb

 
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