O’Hara Mills cel­e­brates sap sea­son

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - NEWS - TIM MILLER

MADOC — What a dif­fer­ence 167 years can make.

A mod­ern-day maple syrup op­er­a­tion can in­volve thou­sands of tapped trees hooked up to miles upon miles of plas­tic tub­ing, all pulling the sticky sweet sub­stance into great vats for pro­cess­ing.

When the O’Hara fam­ily first be­gan to gather sap out of nearby trees in the mid 1800s, it was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent story.

Vis­i­tors to the O’Hara Mill Homestead and Con­ser­va­tion Area this week­end got a first-hand look at just what that story would’ve looked like as a 19th-Cen­tury sugar bush came to life cour­tesy of the O’Hara Vol­un­teers As­so­ci­a­tion.

“They would take 40 of them (buck­ets) and you would just get one bucket of maple syrup out of it,” said Joe Kaehler, an as­so­ci­a­tion mem­ber who was vol­un­teer­ing at the fin­ish­ing hut on Satur­day.

“So you have to do some­thing with the other 39 buck­ets of, ba­si­cally, wa­ter.”

Kaehler ex­plained the process of boil­ing the gath­ered sap down us­ing great iron caul­drons be­fore tak­ing what re­mains to the fin­ish­ing hut where it’s re­duced down even fur­ther us­ing a gi­ant metal pan over an open fire.

“And what you’re left with is your maple syrup, ready to use any time of the year.”

The fin­ish­ing hut is a recre­ation of the same type of hut the O’Hara fam­ily used in the 1800s.

“You’ll see the ex­act same struc­tures uti­lized, and the caul­drons uti­lized just a lit­tle bit down the path,” he said, point­ing to where clouds of vapour could be seen ris­ing through the trees.

Kaehler said a lot of the chil­dren that come out for the sugar bush event are “pleas­antly sur­prised” at how sim­ple the process of mak­ing maple syrup can be.

“Sim­ple, but labour in­ten­sive,” he laughed. “No but­tons no gad­gets, no any­thing. This is how it was done in the old days.”

The third-an­nual event also acts as a fundraiser for the as­so­ci­a­tion’s ef­forts to pre­serve the homestead.

“All of it’s free,” said Kaehler. “We just ask peo­ple that, if they re­ally en­joyed them­selves, to please make a do­na­tion in any of the do­na­tion boxes.”

Rope-mak­ing, a pan­cake break­fast, horse-drawn car­riage rides, live en­ter­tain­ment and var­i­ous demon­stra­tions from log-hew­ing to mak­ing wooden shin­gles us­ing hand­tools were just some of the many ac­tiv­i­ties on hand.

“Ev­ery­thing we make here goes back into re­fur­bish­ing or adding to (the homestead), as far as build­ings are con­cerned or equip­ment is con­cerned,” said as­so­ci­a­tion mem­ber, Fred Ben­dell.

Ben dell said the event also gives the as­so­ci­a­tion an op­por­tu­nity to show­case the sites pi­o­neer an­ces­try.

“The O’Hara fam­ily, one of their main in­dus­tries was to make sugar when they were here farm­ing in the 1800s,” he said, adding they would not only make maple syrup, but also blocks of sugar.

“Back then they didn’t have sug­ar­cane so they used to make a block of sugar from the maple syrup. That was a big ticket item for them.”


Belleville's Sally Mc­Crae (far left) and seven-year-old Walker Madill (far right) pet a Shet­land Pony.


Vis­i­tors warm up by a fire while en­joy­ing some hot cho­co­late at the O'Hara Mill's 1850's Sugar Bush event.


Nine-year-old Brinna Reitav looks on as her mother, Dei­dre, pro­vides a demon­stra­tion on hew­ing.


Gi­ant cast iron caul­drons give off clouds of vapour as they boil away.


Four-year-old Rayla Mc­Crae of Ot­tawa gets a lit­tle help with the two-man cross­cut saw at the O'Hara Mill Homestead and Con­ser­va­tion Area's 1850's Sugar Bush event on Satur­day in Madoc.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.