Quebec, which produces over 80% of the world’s maple syrup, is the birthplace for both Pauline and I. Pauline was born in Beauceville, which is one hour south of Quebec City. That particular part of Quebec is a hot bed for maple producers. Pauline’s family and extended family owned many “sugarshacks”. Springtime family gatherings around the “Cabane à Sucre“ were a source of great anticipation and fun as Pauline grew up. To this day, the thought of those good old times brings back many cherished memories for her. I also had strong feelings for maple sugaring, from the culture to the storied history to just thinking “how could something so tasty come from a tree, with nothing added and nothing taken away”. I always dreamed that someday that I would be able to produce maple syrup and call myself...a sugarmaker. What could be more Canadian, eh!
Both Pauline and I worked most of our adult lives for Air Canada as flight attendants. That is how we met and after raising our four children we were able to see the world and go to places that most people only dream of. With retirement from Air Canada becoming a “soon-to-be reality”, the opportunity to purchase a beautiful 100 acre parcel of land presented itself. To find a clean, unspoiled piece of land on a year-round road and only ten minutes to the Town of Huntsville is indeed a rare find! We jumped at the opportunity and immediately started the steep learning curve to becoming maple syrup producers.
We researched and researched, planned and then, you guessed it, did some more research. We must have visited 150 different sugarhouses throughout Ontario, Quebec, Vermont and NewYork State. We posed thousands of questions to fellow sugar makers, who are the most forthcoming group of people I have ever known. There were many bumps and bruises along the road getting our new business off the ground. The emotional highs and lows were trying at times, to say the least. There were days where I really questioned “What are we doing?” and after much reflection ... the answer was quite clear; “We have a dream and we’re chasing it”.
We live here today, where the friendliness of the people and the beautiful scenery of Muskoka make this “our special place” in the world now. Our sugarbush is laced with springs, creeks and granite outcroppings that provide us with sought after privacy in a very peaceful and tranquil setting. We are fortunate and know it.
Our children visited us during the “sugaring time” and helped us tap, load wood, boil, bottle and get messy drinking warm sap. They played their guitars and the piano, and they sang loud with lots of healthy laughing. Even though we know we still have a lot to learn, we are thrilled to have our family gather in our “Cabane à Sucre”. We are making tasty maple syrup with them now ...along with wonderful memories that will last for a lifetime....what could be sweeter?