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Inside this Issue
Celebrating the End of a Decade Page 1
Do You Know the History of the Straw?
Warm Up With ‘The Little House on thePrairie” Book Series This Winter Page 2 The Creationist Scientist Whose Findings (and Toys) Are Still Used Today
Simple Pancakes From Scratch Page 3
The Most Surprising Crime in History Page 4
Maple syrup holds a proud place in the history and culture of Quebec, Canada. It’s also a big part of Quebec’s economy, with 72% of the world’s maple syrup produced in Quebec alone. Due to tactics employed by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (FPAQ), the NPR-backed podcast “The Indicator” estimates that maple syrup is valued at approximately $1,300 per barrel — over 20 times more than crude oil. The FPAQ controls the available syrup supply, never releasing enough maple syrup to meet demand, which increases the price. As a result, most of the world’s maple syrup is stored in various reserves. This is what made the events between 2011 and 2012 so dubious. During this period, a group of thieves snatched the country’s beloved syrup from an FPAQ facility in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec. At the FPAQ facility, syrup was stored in unmarked metal barrels and only inspected once a year. The heist, led by a man named Richard Vallières, involved transporting the barrels to a remote sugar shack in the Canadian wilderness, where they siphoned off the maple syrup, refilled the barrels with water, and returned the barrels to the facility. The stolen syrup was then trucked east to New Brunswick and south across the border into Vermont. The thieves sold their ill-gotten goods in small batches, avoiding suspicion from legitimate, honest syrup distributors.
In what is now known as the Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist, thieves made off with 10,000 barrels of maple syrup valued at $18.7 million. This remains one of the most costly heists in Canadian history. Vallières himself became a millionaire and took his family on three tropical vacations in one year. Eventually, the thieves got sloppy and stopped refilling the barrels with water. When an FPAQ inspector visited the targeted facility in the fall of 2012, he accidentally knocked over one of the empty barrels. The inspector alerted the police, who would go on to arrest 17 men in connection to the theft, including Vallières himself. Police were then able to recover hundreds of barrels of the stolen syrup, but most of it was never recovered — likely lost to pancake breakfasts far away.
4 • THE SWISS CRAFTSMAN
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