For more than three decades, getting a candy apple on Halloween night from the only family in the community that made them was a race of all time.
To mark the end of an era, the Knott family of Curve Lake First Nation gathered to remember their late mother, Anita Knott, who to them and to all was simply known as “Bubbles.” Their mother and father started a tradition of sorts, by making candy apples for a Halloween treat. There was one caveat, though. Those who wanted one, had to say 'candy apple' in the Ojibwa language.
“Oh, she made them say it: Ziizbaaktowaabmin,” says Keith Knott when speaking about his late wife.
Becky Wolfe, Knott’s second eldest daughter, says her mother came up with the idea when she taught Ojibwa language at the former Lakefield District Secondary School.
“She thought it was fun if her students said 'Ziizbaaktowaabmin,' and if they did, she’d bring them one, and that’s how it started,” says Wolfe.
Holding a poster of selected photos of their mother making candy apples for Halloween, the Knott family paid tribute to their late mother who passed away in February of this year and gave the community one last great treat: candy apples.
Knott says making candy apples was a family effort, but in the early days it was just him and his wife. Up until this year they would candy 200 apples, which Knott says would all be gone within a few hours on Halloween. For the final year, the Knott family made just over 300.
“Years before, Bubbles and I, we would spend half the day washing them, pulling off the stems.” added Knott. This year his five daughters all helped out.
Knott’s eldest daughter, Shelly Fife, says each of her sisters has a job when making the candy apples.
“Mindy, our youngest sister, she’s the dipper, coating the apples over and over. That’s her responsibility, and she does a pretty good job. Then my other two sisters, Jill and Giselle, and myself do wrapping, and putting in the wooden popsicle stick,” says Fife. With heartfelt feelings, Fife says she and her sisters, along with their father, agreed it was time to end the tradition and remember their mother at the same time.
“I don’t think we will continue next year. But I’m sure she will hear everyone say, Ziizbaaktowaabmin,” adds Fife.
Not only did community members flock to Knott’s home to get their candy apple, but trick-or-treaters would come from as far away as Lindsay to do the same. And, according to Wolfe, her mother would make sure others, such as her doctors and nurses, got a candy apple too.
Theresa McCue says it was always the talk of the community on Halloween to get to Keith and Bubble’s house in rain, cold, or whatever the weather as fast as possible so not to miss out .
“It was the best,” says McCue. “Both would welcome us into their home with her loving smiles and Keith’s always, ‘“Happy Halloween,’” and yes, we would have to say, Ziizbaaktowaabmin, as she was putting it into our Halloween bags. Such good times and great memories,”added McCue.
Knott says they always had the odd trick-or-treaters show up late looking desperate in hopes to get a candy apple. “A few times we had kids show up later in the evening, and if we didn’t have any candy apples left, we always had chips or other candies on hand so no one went without.”
Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Peterborough This Week