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Fall Snaps in Edmonton

30695006-4c87-429e-8ca3-bfeb4e8c6f28Long ago in Edmonton, the Kiwanis service club waited until the crisp fall days to hold Apple day.

Apple Day was an ingenious money raiser for the worthy purposes of the Club. In the fall, the McIntosh apples from the Okanagan came in. They were biting, sharp and stunning in their juicy way – sharp with the freshness, the essence of the snap of the onrushing fall.

For our family, it was showtime. The weekend before Canadian Thanksgiving, we were roused early. It was one of the special ways to connect with our father. He was an exceedingly busy and committed architect – a fixture in Edmonton, well known to all. But to us, a bit of a ghost – home for dinner sometimes, then intent on quiet, reading the Edmonton Journal, and playing to piano – unto himself. Many nights away – we knew some of the mystical destinations – Chicago, Toronto. Far from our parochial little city – much more sophisticated indeed!

I remember us adoringly attending him in the rotunda of the Edmonton airport, compass rose imbedded in the floor, him jaunty with his fedora, smoking a Buckingham, about to vanish on the magic carpet of a Super Constellation, waiting outside the door. Then he was gone.

But today, he was here. Really here. After all, he was President of Kiwanis, deeply involved in the Children’s home – whatever that was. But we knew we had to be on deck early – and we were ready. No squabbling – other than the usual brother/ sister stuff. This had purpose. This had meaning.
Off in the Mercury – downtown in the shaggy dusky fall early light. Days were shortening dramatically. Nothing much green was left and the orange rusty leaves were in their last.

Edmonton then was a real downtown city. You went downtown for everything significant – to the Bay and the myriad small shops up and down Jasper Avenue. The fundraiser blanketed downtown, with a minor perhaps for Whyte Avenue on the south – lesser – side of the river.

It worked like this. Clowns stood on every street corner. As a passerby, you had to buy an apple. Could cost you a dime, maybe a quarter. The big shots donated a buck for theirs. Then the clown pinned an apple sticker on your lapel. You jawed into your gorgeous, best of the fall, McIntosh and were immune to further solicitation from insistent clowns. Those apples were something. And, then, after they were gone, you couldn’t get more. They were done for the year.

Why clowns? I don’t know. It dated back, but every Kiwanis member, kid and fellow travellers had an outfit. Some played it up, others were straight.

They were supplied by a network of trucks purloined from city businesses. My Dad and I, we’d spend the day on the trucks. Starting with a full load of Macs at the railway siding, where the Kiwanis order had stationed, going in rounds to keep the baskets full of red round, sparkling apples. I got to ride in the back in the open air. Nobody worried about safety then. They assumed the kids were smart enough not to fall off.

Round and round downtown we went. Out went the boxes of apples. Dropped by the bus benches provided by our home afternoon delivered town newspaper. “Rest and read the Journal”. Into the handbaskets. Out to the consuming strollers. On went the lapel stickers. In went the change. On to the Childrens’ Home. Faces red-cheeked with snappy fall air.

The fading end of the day, we gathered up the unsold apples onto the trucks. Deposited them all back at central probably to go to the Childrens’ home. We didn’t know. It was not our job to understand all that. We had rosy cheeks and the abundant sense of doing something good – and fun.

That night, that special Apple Day, our normally patient Mom was bubbling over as we came home. Home to be provided with yet another of her fulsome dinners – more elaborate given the appetites generated by a full day in the fall weather.

She just couldn’t contain herself. “Have you seen the Journal?” “No, how could we, we’ve been on the trucks all day!”

My sister Jane was fairly popping her buttons. “Well, look!” Plunked the freshly delivered newspaper, right into our dinner.

And there she was, color, center, looking right out of the front page. Resplendent in her clown outfit, radiant and bursting with pride and life, selling apples to all and sundry.

She was famous! We were famous! I wish I had that picture, I really do…

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

One Response to “Fall Snaps in Edmonton”

  • Wilma M. Marshall says:

    Hi Doug,

    Not your mom, but perhaps there are more photos in the archives.

    Like you, I remember apple day very well. Like yours, m dad, Harvey Talbot, was in Kiwanis in Edmonton.

    and this was a lovely touch of Edmonton, back in the day.


    Image Number: EA-696-10
    Fonds Title MS-690 Macdonald / Clifton family fonds
    Title: Life Member of Edmonton Kiwanis Club Selling Apples on the Street…
    Dates of Creation: 1946
    Description: Alan Macdonald.
    Photographer / Creator: unknown
    Names: Macdonald, Alan
    Subjects: Clowns


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Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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