On the hunt for the lost apples of Lanark County

Jennifer Ferris loves a good mystery, and has been spending her time trying to find heritage apple varieties throughout Lanark County.

Hopetown, Ont., woman uses Facebook to track down old trees

These are some of Jennifer Ferris's heritage apple variety finds. She's hoping to find the Princess Louise and Lanark Greening varieties next. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

Ever bite into a Princess Louise?

How about a Wealthy, or a Snow?

Maybe you have one of these apple varieties growing on your property, or know someone who does. Either way, Jennifer Ferris would love to hear about it.

The Hopetown, Ont., woman loves a good mystery, and has been spending her time trying to find heritage apple varieties throughout Lanark County.

Jennifer Ferris runs the Lost Lanark Legacy Fruit Trees Facebook page. To pick apples, she uses an extendable pole topped with a plastic soda bottle with a hole in the bottom. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

"I just find these old apples have way more interesting flavours in them, for sure," Ferris told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.

"The old apples have ... subtle hints of — and some stronger than others — not just apple but pear, clove, a general spiciness, pineapple, banana, strawberry, raspberry, anise."

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In particular, she's looking for the Lanark Greening, a hard, late-season green variety that was apparently developed in Fallbrook, Ont., and the Princess Louise, a juicy green/yellow apple with red/blush stripes that's good for dessert.

Notices about apple competitions in local fairs, printed in newspapers in the 1910s to 1940s, have been helpful. Ferris has a list of about 25 names to track down, and has a lead on a Princess Louise apple tree in Middleville, Ont.

This apple tree at the Auld Kirk Cemetery in Almonte, Ont., has multiple trunks, which leads Jennifer Ferris to believe it probably grew from an apple core someone tossed away. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

She came close to finding a Lanark Greening tree — also in Middleville — where she met an 81-year-old man whose father won competitions with his apples.

The elderly man remembered the apples well and even had the remains of one of the trees on his property, but it had died just a few years before Ferris's visit.

"It's a mystery. I love a good mystery. I love that it's probably solvable, it's just a matter of finding the properties," she said. "I am hopeful that there are still Lanark Greenings out there."

To help with her search for forgotten apple varieties, Ferris started a Facebook page called Lost Lanark Legacy Fruit Trees. Anyone with tips about where to find old trees are invited to share their stories there.

The apples at the Auld Kirk Cemetery are juicy, have white flesh and a subtle flavour with notes of pear. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

With files from CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning