Do YOU know where maple syrup comes from? I do NOW, after a fun, but COLD, blustery, and rainy day spent at the Bronte Creek Maple Syrup Festival! More rain poured than syrup, but bad weather meant no crowds! Here's a little recap of our day:
First, we were guided through the steps involved in tapping a maple tree to get the water that eventually becomes syrup by a lovely gal dressed in the turn of the century garb the maple farmers who once owned this plot of land would have worn while harvesting sap:
Step one: find a maple tree (apparently the syrup from the sugar maple tastes best). Measure said tree to ensure it is of an appropriate size (not all trees are best for tapping):
Next, drill a hole into the tree just past the outer bark
Next: insert the spigot or spout and hook pail to spout to catch the liquid
After several hours, provided it's the right temperature out (between -5 and +5 C), pail should slowly fill with water from the tree.
I tasted this tree water and must tell you it does NOT taste like syrup. It tastes like woody water.
Next step involves boiling the water down so that the actual water evaporates, leaving the maple sugar behind. In the 18th century, this process was done using pots over roaring wood fires.
In the 19th century, a modified stove, allowing for a broader surface area for boiling, and providing safer, more controlled places for the fire and smoke, was used.
Sorry, no photos of the factory drums now used to condense maple water into syrup. Suffice it to say, this is NOT how Aunt Jemima's maple syrup is boiled down nowadays!
After watching the tapping process, we got to see some vintage ladies distilling maple water even further into maple sugar.
After reaching the right temperature and liquid state, the maple sugar is poured into moulds then left to cool. The finished product is maple candy!
On the other side of the maple candy barn was a vintage photo studio, where we got to dress up in late Victorian costumes and get some fun pictures in an old buggy. I know it's historically inaccurate that we are smiling, but it was just TOO fun!
Finally, a tour of the Victorian mansion once lived in by the farming family who operated a maple syrup business on the land where the park now sits.
Just call me Anne, Anne of Green Gables (actually, call me Wild Woman of the Woods--it was too darn cold and muddy to be fashionable! For the record, I am wearing a vintage sweater, a lumberjacket plaid dress by Family Affairs [which is actually really adorable when not covered up by bulky sweaters], and my trusty Hunter wellies)
Check out the glorious ceiling and wallpaper!!
Oh, Matthew! Oh, Marilla! Puffed Sleeves!
Then it was on to the pancake house where we gorged ourselves on pancakes, pure maple syrup, and maple sausage. Then, after a short sugar spike, we crashed into pancake induced narcolepsy....and then we had to go get our taxes done. WHEW! What a day!