Our trip into the forests of New Brunswick to check out the 2007 harvest of Maple syrup brought us to an old farm, located on the side of a hill overlooking Washademoak Lake, about 40 km (25 miles) from Hampton. After walking up from the road through the forest we emerged onto an old field, still recovering from the 60-cm (2-ft) of snow that had...more
The final product of the M & N Morin Maple company operation is an array of bottles filled with freshly prepared Maple syrup, as shown here. Our tour ended with a look at the final step of the process in which the loads of maple sap are fed into two flat pans that are each heated by a wood-fired boiler, shown in the second and third photos. This is...more
The trees on this farm have been here for over 100 years and about 800 of the Sugar Maples are tapped to siphon off their sap as it flows back up out of their roots. Altogether, on this farm, about 1200 pots were attached to the trees, with a maximum of two per tree to ensure that the tree does not suffer any damage from losing too much of its...more
The first part of the Kennebecasis Naturalist Society trip to the Maple sugar farm consisted of a meal at the nearby McCrea Farms site. Located on the south side of the valley overlooking Washademoak Lake, this family run establishment has plenty of diversions for all four seasons. They offer sugarbush tours, such as the one we planned to take, as well as lake skating, snomobiling, cross-country skiing, hunting, fishing and swimming! They also have a cabin down at lakeshore that sleeps 7-10 if you want to make an extended stay of it.
Favorite Dish: In our case, we were just one of a few groups they were hosting for sugarbush tours on a sunny but cool 2 C (36 F) late-March Saturday morning. The group ahead of us had not yet quite finished their meal when we arrived, so we were ushered into their sitting room (2nd photo) beside the combined kitchen/dining area. I had a great talk there with one of the other members of our group who had travelled extensively all over the world in search of suitable granite to be used in his family-owned tombstone/memorial business.
It was a great meal, a noon-hour 'breakfast' consisting of orange juice, scrambled eggs, slices of ham, sausages, crepes or pancakes with Maple syrup and tea/coffee! The 3rd photo shows my 82-year old mother enjoying her feast as the cooking goes on behind her in the kitchen. The cost was C$10 (US$8.50) per person.
Once the maple syrup has been boiled to the proper concentration, one of the local traditions is to sample the latest batch right then and there! In our case, the large metal tank holding either fresh grains of snow or crushed ice provides a nice even bed on which to ladle out the latest offering of syrup, as you can see here. Small flat wooden 'popsicle' sticks are provided to everyone and it is a simple matter to use the end of the stick to roll the quickly cooled maple syrup strip into a coil. It is very sticky stuff, so there is no problem to get it to attach to your wooden stick for a uniquely tasting treat, as shown by my mother in the second photo! I have to admit, it was a very nice way to end the tour!
The dead-end Croft's Cove road very quickly turned from pavement to gravel as it reached an area of summer cottages built along the lakeshore. It was there, where there was only a narrow strip of trees between the road and the lakeside that we suddenly encountered two White-tailed Deer that maybe were sampling a fresh drink along the open shore of...more
At the end of our tour of the 'sugar shack' operations, we finished off by continuing the drive on Craft's Cove road along the south shore of Washademoak Lake not far from the tiny community of Shannon. By late-March, the strength of the daytime sun has done its work on the various sheets of 2-foot thick ice that had formed over the winter months....more
Three weeks after my maple suger trip, I attended the funeral of my father's 82-year old cousin, Bill Titus, who was appropriately buried in the small community of Titusville, located just a few miles south and east of Hampton. This tiny place in rural New Brunswick has always held special memories for me, thanks to the summer of 1959 which our family spent here while my Dad helped run his father's nearby lumber mill. This photo is what remains of Bill's house 48 years later, rather run down by now, due to resisting the blasts of many harsh Canadian winters.
I was only 10 years old at the time, but I remember enjoying many summer afternoons swimming in the nearby brooks with my older brother and two younger sisters. My brother and I also built a wooden 'hot-rod' racer but used our 7-year old sister Pat as our first 'test driver' down the steep hill leading into Bill's house! Another time when Bill was out mowing the hay in his fields, my brother and I tagged along to watch the action. I noticed that he had cut down a wasp nest which was now laying on the ground in the field so I decided to check out my theory that I could run faster than wasps could fly. While my brother and Bill watched, I took a run at the nest and squashed it as I ran past, continuing at full speed. Apparently, I was too slow because it was only seconds later when I felt stings, before I made it to the safety of a nearby stream while Bill and my brother rolled on the ground laughing!
The second photo shows the very picturesque Titus Hill where Bill was finally laid to rest, beside the dead-end road that led to his homestead of more than 60 years.
This part of the province of New Brunswick, located along the Saint John River between the major port of Saint John and the capital city of Fredericton (with its nearby community of Oromocto in the upper left of this map) is, in my opinion, one of the top scenic areas in the province. As you can see from this section of the provincial highway map, the terrain to the east of the Saint John River is cut by a number of incoming water courses. Starting from the south, the first one is the Kennebecasis River which turns into Kennebecasis Bay with the village of Hampton located at the head of the Bay (the start of the 'pink' drive to our Maple syrup harvest tour). Above that is Belleisle Bay as our route cuts past its upper end before reaching the next 'arm' of the Saint John River. This one, called Washademoak Lake, is formed by the wide valley where the Canaan River flows into the Saint John. Finally, Grand Lake, the largest in the province, flows into the river just before the map peters out, as the Saint John River continues for another 480-km (300-miles) to its upper reaches in northern Maine, USA.
Fondest memory: Although Hampton is the closest VT-site to the location of our Maple sugar trip, this entire area of river valleys, treed hillsides and rolling farmlands is very picturesque and the network of small roads to the east of the Saint John River provides many opportunities to explore at your leisure. To make things easier for travellers, there are also five free provincially-operated ferries to take you back and forth across these various bodies of water. All you have to do is turn up on one side or the other and within 15-20 minutes, the ferry will see to your needs at no charge. You can get out of your vehicle and enjoy the scenery during the crossing too! Those other roads, marked in Blue and Green, are designated provincial 'scenic highways'.