150 Years of History in the Hills

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the April 05, 2017 issue. Reprinted with permission.

This is the seventh in a continuing series of photo essays celebrating our Gatineau Valley history and heritage during Canada's sesquicentennial year. The series was created by the Gatineau Valley Historical Society, in collaboration with The Low Down to Hull and Back News. All photographs are courtesy of the Gatineau Valley Historical Society, with donors noted.

A gift from the First Nations to make spring sweet

150 Years of History in the Hills
A popular spring pastime - boiling down maple sap in Cascades (now part of Chelsea), 1925. Donated by Lillian Walton.

Is there anything more Canadian than maple syrup? 'Sugaring time', that brief space between winter and spring when the snow starts to melt and the sap begins to flow in the maple groves, evokes romantic images of our past.

The skill of collecting and processing the sweet sap of the sugar maple was known and valued by the indigenous peoples long before the arrival of European settlers. By watching them, early settlers learned how to tap maple trees and boil the sap down to make syrup. Instead of gashing the bark, settlers drilled holes in the tree, pushing wooden spouts, or 'spiles', into the holes. They hung buckets from nails below the spiles to protect the buckets from strong winds or animals.

Adapted excerpt from www.historicacanada.ca/content/heritage-minutes/syrup

150 Years of History in the Hills
How fitting that brothers Stuart and David Geggie are drilling for sap at 'The Maples' (now Les Trois Erables) in Wakefield, 1935. Donated by Norma Geggie.
150 Years of History in the Hills
A balancing act: Thomas MacDiarmid boiling maple sap in the old Nesbitt barn foundation (the barn burned in the 1930s), 1949. Donated by Effie McDiarmid.

150 Years of History in the Hills
Crowd at the sugar bush at the Fathers of the Holy Ghost in Limbour, circa 1925.

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