By Phil Vogler
The Apple Capital Museum in Berwick holds a wealth of information regarding the Annapolis Valley apple industry and its founders.
In “the old days,” the Town of Berwick was at the centre of the apple industry, and many of its citizens were growers, shippers and merchants of locally grown apples. Hundreds, if not thousands, of others were employed by jobs relating to the growing of the apple.
There was always someone trying to improve the type of apple or the qualities of the tree, the ladder, the storage barrel and many other aspects involved with growing apples. Luckily, there was also a man that wanted to improve the apple grader.
That man was Jeremiah Wade Hutchinson, or J.W. Hutchinson when mentioned in the circa 1897-1900 issues of The Register newspaper.
Jeremiah, born about 1856, was the son of John and Susan Hutchinson and married Ida S. Baker (Tremont, daughter of Reuben and Lavinia Baker). Two of Jeremiah’s siblings were Estelle, who married Edward Woodworth of Cornwallis, and George, who married Adelia Rainforth of Windermere. Jeremiah, originally from Morristown, later moved to the town of Berwick around 1898.
The April 20, 1898 issue of The Register has: “Messrs. Hutchinson Bros. have commenced operations in their factory at Berwick, recently purchased from Mr. E.R. Davidson.” In the May 18 1898, issue: “TELEPHONE - Messrs. Hutchinson Bros. Private telephone line between their factories at Morristown and Berwick is now in working order.”
The Evangeline Apple Grader must have been invented prior to 1927 (possibly closer to 1900), as an article in the July 20, 1927 issue of The Register refers to an image of the grader and quotes “above is presented an illustration of the latest improved Evangeline Apple Grader, designed and manufactured by J. W. Hutchinson of Berwick, which has proved its usefulness and superiority in a score of the leading fruit warehouses throughout the Annapolis Valley.”
The grader was very popular during the first half of the 20th Century but, for how long after that, I am not certain. It is certain the grader helped to improve the local apple industry in a huge way. The above-mentioned 1927 Register article states: “The Evangeline grader is constructed for grading all sizes of apples, from culls to large size No. one, and is specially suited for grading for box pack. It has a capacity for handling from 250 to 300 barrels of apples per day, depending of course on the quality of fruit. A machine of double capacity, specially constructed for the Berwick Fruit Company's large warehouse, has a capacity of about 500 barrels per day.”
In 1927 the 27’ x 8’ grader (operated by a one-half hp electric motor) was on display at the Pleasant Valley fruit Company's warehouse and was in use (purchased by) the Commonwealth Fruit Company, Weston (they ordered a second); one had been ordered by the British Canadian Fruit Association, Kentville. The grader was reported to outclass all existing “imported” apple graders.
After a brief search in 2001, I was unable to find even a remnant of the Evangeline Apple Grader in existence but, if someone should have a section of one (maybe without knowing), I would bet the Apple Capital Museum in Berwick would love to hear from you.