Sweet success with sugarbush tours GREGGCHAMBERLAIN email@example.com Photo Karen Paquette
FINCH| The sweet smell of success lingers along with the sugary scent of maple tree sap and maple syrup with the latest round of sugarbush tours offered to students in the Prescott-Russell region. Staff at the South Nation Conservation Authority (SNC) are happy to thumb their noses at superstition as they host their 13th Annual Maple Sugar Education Safari dur-
• VISITE D’ANIMAUX • TIRE SUR LA NEIGE • PRODUITS DE L’ÉRABLE • PARC D’AMUSEMENT • GLISSADES SUR TUBE • PROMENADE EN CHARRETTE CABANE À SUCRE
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ing the month of March. Karen Paquette, SNC spokeswoman, reported good turnout from schools during the start of the month- long cultural history education event. “Our first week saw about 150 students,” Paquette said. “We expect to see the big push in numbers after March break. We have bookings pretty for every day after that.” The sugarbush tours program runs all through March and into the first week of April. While the main focus of the March project is to provide students in the region with a unique opportunity to enjoy learn- ing about the history and culture behind Eastern Canada’s tradition of making maple syrup, the SNC welcomes other groups like Scouts, and individuals who want to take part in the scheduled tours of a local sugar- bush operation. A typical two-hour tour starts with a stroll among the sugar maples and demonstra- tions of how the trees are tapped for the sap that runs through their trunks and is later refined into syrup. While sugar maples are the prime candidates for maple syrup- making, Paquette noted that other species of maples and a select few other types of trees can also provide sap suitable for mak- ing syrup though not as good as from a genuine sugar maple. “It does produce the best syrup.”
Students on tour through the sugarbush plantation also learn about the ecology of a sugarbush and how it is managed to pro- duce quality sap for as long as the trees are viable. They also learn the history behind maple syrup, starting with the First Nation legends about how the origin of maple syrup followed by an explanation of how the Algonquin and other aboriginal folk were able to refine the sap without the use of iron cauldrons or other equipment that they later obtained from French traders and others. The traditional First Nation method in- volved hollowing out a large hardwood log, filling it with sap, and then dropping hot rocks into the sap to bring it a boil and thus render the sap into syrup. The sugarbush tour finishes up with a walk through the evaporator and boiler rooms where the maple sap is reduced down to syrup. Paquette noted that 40 litres of maple sap produces one litre of maple syrup. “It gives an idea of how hard maple farm- ers work,” she said. The end of the tour is the part that many students remember most of all as they get a chance to enjoy an old Canadian candy treat, the maple taffy with fresh maple syr- up poured onto clean snow and then rolled up on a stick for eating.
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