We dedicate this 2011 Apple Festival to
South End Elder and Pioneer
Feb 2, 1911 – Oct. 1, 2009
We lost a great Salt Springer at age 99.
Lotus Ruckle moved to Salt Spring in 1921, on her 10th birthday, living on step-father, Cory Menhenick’s farm (now Wave Hill Farm, # 5 on this program). Lotus loved apples and told the story of a favourite Blue Peamain tree they had on this farm where she grew up as a teenager
.The apples were so good that they would NOT EVEN SELL any of the apples to their neighbours, but kept them all for themselves. On this farm also, her stepfather, Cory Menhinick, a Cornishman, farming on the present day, Wave Hill Farm (Farm # 5) made a fine cider equal to “the best champagne” from his prized Gravenstein apples.
Cider sold for 75 cents a gallon in the 1920’s and that was the main farm income, helping to put food on the table. Parties and cider seemed to always go hand in hand. The parties featured drinking cider around the fireplace, or singing songs around the piano. Since prohibition was in effect in 1924, at one point Mr. Purdy (Beddis Rd), Mr. Rogers (on the Cranberry) and Mr. Menhinick were all fined $400. Fortunately, the fine was waived. Lotus would be the one feeding the apples into the grinder. That apple press is still on Salt Spring and is still being used by Kathy Stack the owner.
In 1930, she married Gordon Ruckle and moved about 1 km down the road, to Ruckle Farm (#8 on the 2011 program). The Ruckles worked very hard all their life, maintaining this valuable food producing farm. In 1974, the Ruckles sold all 1196 acres to the province of BC to be used as a park, FOR ALL THE PEOPLE. The agreement stipulated that the 200 acre of farmland would remain a working farm within Ruckle Park. Lotus was very proud of a Louise Bonne de Jersey Pear tree that grew just south of the barn on Ruckle and that was over 40 feet high.
Lotus was a happy person, with a great mind, and a wealth of old Salt Spring history, which she freely shared with all. She was a great inspiration to all she met. We will miss her energy.
There is a 1 hour documentary by Harry Burton, called the Creation of Ruckle Park, which features Lotus.
One Salt Spring farming tradition was the knitted wool Ruckle sweather, with wool grown on Ruckle sheep, prepared by Lotus and knit by Gwen. They knit about 25 sweathers a year for 25 years. That is an amazing 625 sweaters .