This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The handsomest and largest bunch of grapes grown in the open air that we have seen, has been sent us by Mr. G. W. Fearman, of Hamilton, Canada West. It is a seedling white grape, somewhat resembling the Chasselas, and quite good enough for the table, for which, it will be a fine ornament. It is a hybridized fruit. From the somewhat immature state of the seed, we should Judge that the grapes had been pulled prematurely, and that a greater development of the saccharine principle would have resulted from its longer continuance on the vine.
Fig. 2. Canadian Chief Grape.
It was grown, in Hamilton, by the Rev. James Brennan, and is quite hardy, even in Canada. The bunches weighed from sixteen to twenty-four ounces; the vine is a most prolific bearer, producing and ripening this year, cold and backward as it has been, one hundred and thirty-four clusters, a great many of them weighing a pound and a pound and six ounces. It is a decided acquisition. Mr. Fearman is the agent for its Bale, which, we predict, will be equal to his ability to supply.
With the grape came a photograph, exhibiting the vine covered with its tempting bunches. We seem to be entering upon an era of new grapes; hybridizing has just begun to exhibit its results, and we may well congratulate the successful experimenters, but still more the benefited public. A good gardener said to us, lately: "I consider the introduction of a new and valuable flower to confer a greater honor than being elected President of the United States." We add, that the originating an entirely new and valuable fruit - a grape like this, or the "Rebecca" - confers more real honor than to be the factitious Emperor of France.
A remarkably fine bunch of this Grape was received through the Editor of the Horticulturist. It is represented to be a hybridized seedling that originated at Hamilton, Canada West, and is said to be hardy and very productive, the vine having borne one hundred and thirty-four clusters from sixteen to twenty-four ounces each.
Bunch, very large, seven inches long by six broad; compact. Berry - Size, five-eighths of an inch by five-eighths. Form, round. Skin, green, with a faint amber tint. Flesh, tender. Flavor, pleasant, but subacid, probably from being pulled before being thoroughly ripe, as the seeds were evidently somewhat immature. Maturity - the specimen examined was received in November, though no information was given in reference to the time it was taken from the vine.
Any grape that will produce such large bunches in the open air, and especially in the cold climate of Canada, must be desirable. But is it a native variety? Some of the Committee who think it is not, regard it as the White Sweetwater. There is a difference, however, in the time of ripening of the two as well as in the size and character of the bunch, that of the Canadian Chief being large and compact, while the other is medium-sized, and open or loose in its structure.
As regards the Canadian Chief grape, there seems to have been some hasty decisions ; we will not say these were induced by prejudice or a feeling of distrust, but we feel very sure that no thorough trial has been made of it in this latitude. With a view of making the experiment, we procured, the past fall, eight vines from Mr. G. W. Fearman, of Hamilton, Canada West, and they are now planted, in this neighborhood, under favorable auspices. The box of the grapes sent us in the fall of 1856, proved to be scarcely ripe, but their appearance was certainly much in their favor, and we had a woodcut made of the largest bunch immediately. It proved too large for our pages, and was thus laid by, but by reducing one side of some half dozen berries, we are enabled to insert it on the opposite page, Fig. 2.
The fact that this fine bunch of grapes was produced in the open air in Canada is established, but it is said the grape vine is not hardy. Whether it is necessary to lay it down every winter and to cover it or not, such bunches of grapes are worth any trouble of that kind, and we see no reason why it may not be cultivated without such care further south; certainly it should have a fair trial before decisive opinions are hazarded. It has received the go by in some quarters, but notwithstanding has been in such demand as to make it difficult to procure a root. The whole vine was layered last year, and no grapes ripened on it. We have a fine photograph representing it in 1855, and showing a most prolific crop, with bunches about half as large as the heads of the first owner and of Mr. Fear-man, who are pointing to them from each corner of the picture.
We wish justice to be done to all such introductions, and whether the vine be of foreign origin or not, if it ripens such fruit in Canada, and "probably" will ripen it better there than elsewhere, as Mr. C. Downing suggests, it is entitled to a fair experiment in more than one climate. - Ed].