Photostory #489: Recipe for: Canadian Maple Magic
National Film Board of Canada
March 1, 1969
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archive
Take two full handfuls of warm, sunny, early-spring days, mix with an equal number of crisp, clear nights, spread gently over a few woodlot acres of rock-hard sugar maples and you have the makings for genuine, old-fashioned Canadian maple syrup. Other items required are spotless pails to catch the sweet sap as it drips from the spigots inserted into small holes drilled in the rough tree bark, a strong horse to pull the sled carrying the collecting tank, and a shed - well stocked with seasoned [...] of birch, maple and ironwood - for boiling down the sap to the consistency of syrup or taffy. Along with these necessary ingredients add a few pairs of snowshoes, a score or more happy, laughing children, a patch of clean, pure snow to instantly solidify into taffy the thick boilings thrown in jagged splashes from a steaming pan, an excited dog with a snow-covered muzzle and, for good measure, the magic atmosphere of a landscape stirring anew at last after three months in nature's whistle-clean deep-freeze. To serve, hold open house for friends and visitors from miles around, have ready a big log-built hall with open fireplace for partying; eat, drink, dance and make merry; add sleigh-rides, tobogganing, snowball fights; spread overall the sweet smell of woodsmoke mixed with the rising steam from the sap house, and then, as the maple juice boils down to syrup, break out little wooden paddles for everyone so that all may dip into the big pot and taste the first nectar of a new season. Such is the recipe for sugaring off in eastern Canada - an age-old ceremony and business that harvests the year's first agricultural crop and ushers in, in splendid style, spring and the long days of summer and growth which are soon to come across a rich and fertile land.