Horace Troup Reminisces about
George H Corsan

Mr. Nielson, 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.

Several years 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 palms.

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.

Mr. Corsan, despite his many ways, was a wonderful old man who wanted us to know all that he knew.

Horace Troup
St. Catharines, Ontario
Song News #10, Spring 1977

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