Ontario Fruitgrowers and Fireblight: A tangled web of knowledge creation and communication

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPresentation


The crop disease, Fireblight, ravaged orchards in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. As part of a wider project, tracing the knowledge creation and communication surrounding orchard diseases by fruitgrowers, scientists, and governments, this paper will address specifically the experiences of orchardists in Ontario, Canada between the period 1880-1900. Orchardists who were members of the Fruit Growers Association of Ontario (FGAO) at this time were part of a multifaceted network of knowledge regarding fruitgrowing and Fireblight. While it was certainly true that agricultural scientists were communicating new information concerning Fireblight, for instance the discovery that the disease was caused by a bacterium, it was not the case that there was a dichotomy between academic scientists creating the knowledge and orchard growers receiving it. Instead, the experience of the Ontario orchardists demonstrates that both groups were part of a tangled web of knowledge creation and communication. Through a study of the FGAO’s meetings and their monthly journal, the Canadian Horticulturist, this paper will demonstrate how orchardists crowdsourced and communicated their knowledge in the face of the threat of Fireblight and considered one another a source of ‘expert’ knowledge on a par with academic scientists.
Period23 Feb 2023
Event titleSHNH Early Career Researcher Symposium : Showcasing Research into Natural History
Event typeConference