They have thin, beige, ridged rind with netting.
They will be 8 inches (20 cm) wide and weigh around 11 pounds (5 kg.)
Inside, they have a large seed cavity with pale green flesh. The flesh is very sweet, with a hint of nutmeg in the taste.
The main variety is called “Gorman”; it’s a bit oval.
A sub-cultivar, called “Décarie”, is almost perfectly round.
Both are 90 days from seed.
Montreal Melons should be eaten shortly after harvest, as they don’t keep well. Store in fridge.
Montreal Melons were being grown at the foot of Mount Royal in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce area of the city between 1850 and 1905.
Their disappearance is blamed on the standard “industrialization” factor, but it’s also true that with its short window of peakness after picking, it couldn’t be put on shelves for grocery shoppers and so was hard to sell, even in local markets.
It was, though, popular with home gardeners in the 1920s.
After that, it was nearly extinct, but was saved thanks to the Brits and Americans.
A British-born journalist living in Montreal, Mark Abley (1955 – ) discovered seeds for it that had been preserved for over 50 years in the seed bank at the University of Iowa’s research station. He brought about 300 of the seeds to a nurseryman, Ken Taylor. Taylor managed to get only 1 of the seeds to germinate. But, from that plant, he got two melons. With the seeds from those two melons, he was able to grow 100 of the plants the next year.
Both varieties, Gorman and Décarie, showed themselves in successive propagations.
Some do wonder though whether the seeds that had been preserved in Iowa reflected just one variety of the melon, and that if the true melon, with the various permutations and diversity that any melon has, really was revived.
Lussiaà-Berdou, Gaëlle. Un survenant dans le potager. Dans Québec Science. September 2002.