a research specialist at the Vineland Experimental Station, started
planting and grafting nut trees on the station property in the 1920s.
I got to know Mr. Nielson well and while I was budding trees as
early as 10 years, I watched him bud walnuts and asked many questions,
but never did learn to successfully graft nut trees till he left
the station to go to Michigan.
passed, then one day we found Mr. Corsan at the Toronto Winter Fair
where he was exhibiting nuts and selling nuts for seed, some for
as much as $1 each, others for two or three for $1.
During the interval
between Mr. Nielson leaving and Mr. Corsan coming to Islington,
Dad and my Uncle Alex bought many grafted trees from Pennsylvania
where several nurserymen were growing and grafting more trees than
they could sell.
Mr. Corsan ---
the nut man as he asked to be called---came to my father's farm
in early October, 1934. He brought with him his son, the aviator,
as he introduced him, who had flown in World War One. The son was
married to Ruth Towers, the marathon swimmer, whom George had trained.
They collected most of our crop of grafted black walnuts for seed.
They picked them as they were not dropping yet: varieties were Teneyck,
Thomas, Stabler and Ohio. On this occasion Mr. Corsan told us some
of the basics of nut growing and grafting which he had learned while
working in some capacity on the Kellogg farm where Mr. Nielson was
also employed. He was continuously interrupted by his son the aviator
telling funny stories which annoyed the nut man.
Mr. Corsan ended
his lecture on nut tree grafting by telling us to send to the United
States Dept. of Agriculture for Farmers' Bulletin #1501. This started
nut tree grafting in Ontario. Mr. Nielson could have told us the
same 10 years earlier, but then we would have known as much as he.
Mr. Corsan talked
much about health and nutrition. He claimed a slice of watermelon,
a bunch of grapes and a handful of nuts made an excellent meal.
He spoke at many women's meetings, mostly on health and nutrition
and always stressed the importance of nuts to pregnant women.
He visited most
farms where superior nuts were grown and always collected seed nuts
to sell. Mr. Corsan bought many grafted trees from my Uncle Alex
Troup who was the most advanced nut grower in eastern Canada at
that time. On one occasion he drove over from Islington, bought
a grafted tree for $1.50, the price at that time. He planted this
tree for a customer in Vineland for $13.00. At that time this was
excessive, bordering on dishonest.
He told us stories
about his keeping fit and claimed at his residence in Florida where
he spent the winters, that he amazed people by climbing cocoanut
He told of working
for a movie company in Hollywood where he was building a jungle
river dug by hand a few inches deep. Water was flowed through while
shooting the scenes. He claimed he worked for several days eating
only watermelon. I often wondered if some of the scenes of Tarzan,
Johnny Weismuller, the swimmer, who would swing through the trees
with Jane, were not really George, the nut man.
On another occasion
Mr. Corsan visited the Kratz farm where Mr. Kratz had several hybrid
trees, butternut and Japanese walnut. Mr. Kratz' daughter was cleaning
the basement and went out to speak to the old gentleman. To her
surprise, Mr. Corsan took her into his arms and kissed her. After
which he said, "You'd never know I'm 81."
At his place,
Echo Valley, mice were bothering his trees, as they will when grown
in sod. Mr. Corsan bought old kettles, knocked holes in the bottom
and placed them over his small trees. A screen mouse guard would
have done the job. We often wondered how he took them off.
In the article
on Corsan in SONG NEWS, it mentions seedling filberts bearing in
two years and profitable in four. This is an example of the false
claims made by nurserymen in the States at that time and Mr. Corsan
was no exception.
Mr. Corsan tried
to encourage the Indians of the Six Nations Reservation to grow
superior nuts. He held demonstrations, which were well attended.
He received much publicity in the Toronto Globe. However, I don't
believe anything came of his efforts.
despite his many ways, was a wonderful old man who wanted us to
know all that he knew.
St. Catharines, Ontario
Song News #10, Spring 1977