Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Maple Sugaring, an Even Earlier Spring in the Northern Woods, or Sugaring Off 2006 pt. 1

It hasn't been a year yet since the last time we wrote about sugaring off here in " endless banquet," but then, for the most part, spring has come even earlier this year than it did in 2005. Last April I wrote about how March and April are the traditional months for the collection of maple sap and the production of maple syrup around these parts, but when you follow up on an unseasonably warm spring with the warmest recorded winter in Canadian history it makes you wonder how much longer that'll be the case.

That said, our sugaring off season got off to an early start this year quite by accident. Maybe subconsciously we could already sense the arrival of an early spring all the way back in January. We'd borrowed a car so we could venture out to the industrial and post-industrial wastelands of Anjou. What possessed us? A fascination with the joli-laid attributes of landscape in the outer banlieues? Nope. The lure of illicit roadside motels? Nope. Rumors of another amazing curry joint? Nope. Jars. Just jars. We needed jars for some canning we were doing and somehow we'd gotten directed to an outfit called Dominion & Grimm. Little did we know that Dominion & Grimm was not only a major supplier to the region's local érabliers and érablières but a major name in maple syrup production and packaging across Eastern Canada and a good portion of the United States. Little did we know that they'd been in the business since 1895 when the Grimm brothers (not to be confused with the Brothers Grimm) got their start right in the heart of downtown Montreal, on McGill Street. Little did we know we'd find their showroom filled with massive maple syrup processing machines

maple syrup processing contraption

and maple syrup containers of all kinds (including those retro cans and canisters that are ubiquitous in these parts and that we love so much), and that their walls would adorned with these beautiful paintings of sugaring off in simpler times

more cabane à sucre nostalgia

and that they'd be busy with local maple farmers doing trade. Little did we know we'd be mistaken for a young maple farming couple just getting started in the biz.

Anyway, our trip to Dominion & Grimm got us all excited about sugaring off, but it took a couple of months before the trees gave up this year's harvest and we rounded up our posse to head to a cabane à sucre. But head to a cabane à sucre we did.

To be continued...


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