Dun­ve­gan Gold a fam­ily af­fair

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

“We call it the old fool’s shack,” re­marks Lau­rent Souligny, with a char­ac­ter­is­tic twin­kle in his eye. The self-dep­re­cat­ing joke is funny be­cause it is not true. While Mr. Souligny may not be a spring chicken, he is no fool. The StIsi­dore egg and cash crop farmer is rec­og­nized in­ter­na­tion­ally as an ad­vo­cate of Cana­dian agri­cul­ture and was in­ducted into the Cana­dian Agri­cul­tural Hall of Fame in 2011. He was chair of the Egg Farm­ers of Canada for 11 years and a board mem­ber for 24 years.

The farm es­tab­lished by Mr. Souligny and his wife, Hélène, four decades ago, is branching out into maple syrup pro­duc­tion this spring. The “shack” ad­jec­tive is not quite ac­cu­rate, ei­ther. The shiny, brand new “ca­bane” at Erablière Souligny Sugar Bush on Blyth Road near Dun­ve­gan is equipped with the lat­est in highly ef­fi­cient syrup-making equip­ment. “I have been dream­ing of do­ing this for years,” says Mr. Souligny, con­ced­ing that his fam­ily, in­clud­ing his son Jean, and Jean’s sons, Ni­cholas and Pa­trick, do most of the work.

“The ca­bane à su­cre is a great place for fam­ily and friends to get to­gether,” points out Lau­rent Souligny. “It’s a fam­ily af­fair.” Mr. Souligny proudly adds that the sugar bush cen­tre was all built by lo­cal peo­ple.

The Soulignys’ first at­tempt at large-scale pro­duc­tion has been a pleas­ant learning ex­pe­ri­ence.

“This is a lot more work than we ex­pected,” ad­mits Jean Souligny. “Af­ter you have boiled all day, you have to start clean­ing ev­ery­thing. But it’s also a lot of fun.”

Lau­rent Souligny al­lows, “We had thought we would get 1,200 gal­lons this sea­son, but it looks like we will sur­pass that. We have both the qual­ity and quan­tity this year.”

The “L’or de Dun­ve­gan Gold” syrup is pro­duced on a 60-acre, 6,000maple tract of land that has been owned by the fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions.

About 60,000 feet of pip­ing and a vac­uum sys­tem col­lect sap and send the sweet liq­uid to reser­voirs. A re­verse os­mo­sis method re­moves ex­cess liq­uid, leav­ing a con­cen­trated sap. In­stead of re­quir­ing 43 gal­lons of sap to make a gal­lon of syrup, only 6.1 gal­lons are needed. The boil­ing process is shorter and cheaper.

Propane is the heat source. “We cal­cu­late that it costs $1.75 in propane to pro­duce a gal­lon,” re­lates Jean Souligny. That rate sure beats the tra­di­tional wood-burn­ing method. “You don’t get your chain saw out for $1.75.”

RICHARD MAHONEY PHO­TOS

THREE GEN­ER­A­TIONS: Lau­rent Souligny, flanked by his son Jean, and grand­son, Ni­cholas, says the fam­ily’s new “ca­bane à su­cre” is a great place for fam­ily and friends to gather. Be­low: Lau­rent Souligny with vats of cool sap.

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