Our first stop on the Tap into Maple Route located in Ontario’s Lake Country and Springwater, an area within the larger region of Bruce Grey Simcoe, was at Shaw’s Maple Syrup and Sugar Bush, a plantation of maple tree wonder and also home of the Shaw Pancake House near Orillia. In this vacation land of scenic tamed wilderness for Torontonians and thousands of other tourists, the Lake Country and Springwater is an outdoor paradise. One of Canada’s most picturesque regions with gleaming lakes and rivers, it has, year-round, a wide-range of activities and other allurements, not least of which is the maple syrup season and its peripheral bounty.
We had come in early spring to enjoy this North American natural sweet and at the same time explore this part of Canada where man had semi-tamed the land but left enough of nature for travelers and tourists to enjoy.
While relishing breakfast that included a large pile of pancakes saturated with homemade maple syrup, Tom Shaw, owner and manager of the Sugar Bush, enthusiastically talked about his passion for his family’s business. He is the 5th generation of Shaws who have been producing maple syrup on this farm and his son, making it the 6th, soon to follow. His great-grandfather began the business in 1904 by collecting the sap in pails and boiling it in cast-iron. This method continued until the 1970s when the system of tubing was installed.
Sated from a very filling meal, led by Tom, we walked to the edging sugar maple bush where we were shown the old method of sap dripping into buckets, a slow and tedious process. Just as Tom explained, we witnessed what must have been a near revolution in production technology when we watched how the tubing system works to collect sap. These tapped trees are connected by a system of plastic tubing that transports the sap from the trees to tanks where it is stored for distilling. The end product remains natural pure syrup without any chemical agents or preservatives.
At the point where the sap is collected we stopped to listen to Tom relate the story of maple syrup and its attributes. It was apparent that maple syrup and its many drawing cards was an integral part of his life.
Leaving Tom’s bush behind I thought of the boiling sap - called by some of its fans ‘liquid gold’. Canada’s epitome of tourist-take-home-souvenirs, this sweet is sold in every type of packaging and endless forms. This day we planned to visit a number of outlets selling these products.