Hosted by the Johnston Farm, 15734 Longwoods Rd., Bothwell, Chatham-Kent, ON
A slit slashed in the tree allowed the sap to drip down a sliver of wood into a hand carved wooden container or a birch bark pail. Sap was gathered and assembled at the sugar camp where whole families maintained the fires.
The syrup was constantly stirred and poured at the proper moment into moulds. Continued stirring produced fine white granular sugar. All this was a highly skilled, labour intensive process. Maple sugar was a valuable trade item for the Chippewa. A sugar camp of 300 trees could produce 600 pounds of sugar a year. Settlers learned the process from their neighbours.
The Moravian diaries report that March 14, 1813, amidst the chaos of war, the sugar camps were in full production. The familiar springtime routine must have been a comforting experience in those troubling times.
By Frances Kilbourne…
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