While on an Art Studio tour in early May, I saw a stunning painting of what may be the oldest fruit tree in Canada, a pear tree located in a farmer’s field in Windsor, Ontario. If you’d like to see a print of it, you will find it on the artist’s website http://jancressman-weiss.weebly.com/paintings--prints.html , the second tree painting on the top left side.
Jan Cressman-Weiss was able to tell us a little more about this tree. It has been dubbed a “Jesuit Pear” or “Mission Pear” brought to the new world from France by either Jesuits or other French colonists. This particular specimen is protected and closely monitored by Agriculture Canada. Ms. Cressman-Weiss needed special permission to get near enough in order to paint it.
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, “Pears made their way to North America with early colonists. For example, 'Jesuit' pear trees were planted by early French settlers near what is now Detroit, Michigan. Extremely rare today, these trees marked the boundaries of the French Canadian communities near Windsor and Chatham, Ontario, and American French communities in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Historical references describe these trees as being as tall as 80 feet and with circumferences as wide as 10 feet.”
Some people add a monument when they plant a tree, but if any of these remaining mission pears have a sign nearby it was not original. Whoever planted them seems to have been guided by this Jesuit motto: