The Gleaner
Agriculture

‘Sugaring has always been a part of our lives’ Family maple business keeps growing

Since the spring of 2018, the Érablière Jamieson Maple restaurant has offered a family-friendly atmosphere with good homemade food. The mouth-watering smells of fresh maple syrup and delicious fluffy pancakes greet visitors at the door, and guests are treated to a variation of traditional cabane-à-sucre fare as well as delicious extras like homemade cinnamon buns and carrot cake.

The restaurant side of this family-run maple business was something of a dream for a long time, explains Stacy Jamieson, who runs the business along with her husband, Michael Ouimet; their two children, Eleanor and Angus; her parents, Norman and Wanda Jamieson; and her brother, Justin Jamieson, and his girlfriend, Emilie Duhème. They also rely on help in the kitchen from aunts Debbie Ingram and Beverly Jamieson.

 

Stacy Jamieson and her brother Justin tapping their sugar bush. PHOTO Érablière Jamieson Maple

 

Érablière Jamieson Maple was started as a hobby in the early 1980s by Norman and his father. “Our father had always liked the syrup-making process and we had the trees available, so why not give it a go with a couple hundred buckets and a very small shanty by the river?” says Jamieson. “Then, what started out small, with family members helping to dump buckets of sap into a big tank pulled behind Grandpa’s tractor, quickly grew to something more.”

Buckets have since been replaced with pipelines, and a pumphouse sends the sap from each tree to a large holding tank. “My brother and I have never known a spring to be any other way; sugaring has always been a part of our lives, and it’s easy to say that this is our favorite time of the year.”

 

Stacy Jamieson with her daughter Eleanor Ouimet and her mother Wanda Jamieson in the kitchen. PHOTO Érablière Jamieson Maple

 

As the years went on, Justin’s passion for maple syrup grew and he started to take over the reins from his father, Norman. A new shanty was built in the early 2000s and the family has slowly added more modern equipment. “Steam-Away, reverse osmosis, and then lastly we made the switch from being wood-fired to using oil,” says Jamieson. “That was bittersweet for me; I have a scar over my right eye from a piece of wood hitting me as I was carrying some in for dad when I was 7. I loved firing the arch, I loved the smell, and the warmth. But sometimes change is necessary, and it just didn’t make sense for us anymore – not with the volumes we were putting out,” she explains.

 

The original Jamieson sugar shanty in Hinchinbrooke. PHOTO Érablière Jamieson Maple

 

With that same progressive spirit the family is planning an expansion of the dining room in order to accommodate larger groups. Back this year was the ever-popular egg hunt on Easter weekend, complete with a bouncy castle for the kids. The big surprise for the year is the addition of a corn maze in the autumn. “We wanted to offer the community something different, [and] an added spot for people who come to visit the Valley in the fall,” explains Jamieson. “We plan to have it open from the beginning of August to the end of October on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Although this maple season that hasn’t been the best, with a decidedly slow start, it has ended up being average – which, according to Jamieson, is all you can ask for when dealing with Mother Nature.

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