Sweet and Princely Recognition

Lanark County’s maple syrup is fit for a Prince! The county continues to add jewels to its Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario crown thanks to local producer Stephen Dodds of Springdale Farm Maple Products in Clayton, who won the John David Eaton World Champion Cup for Champion Maple Syrup at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto along with the Ontario Maple Syrup Premier Exhibitor Trophy for most points in the combined maple syrup and maple products classes. His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, was on hand for the official opening ceremonies and was presented with a bottle of Lanark County’s best, as the winning syrup was part of a gift basket he received. Springdale Farm is one of many Lanark County maple attractions that turn sap into gold each year.

“It’s very exciting,” Mr. Dodds said. “Our syrup was recognized for its clarity, density and flavour.”

His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, was on an 11-day visit to Canada with his wife, The Duchess of Cornwall, and officially opened the Royal Winter Fair. Mr. Dodds, his father Don and brother Bryan met Prince Charles when he toured the maple syrup competition area. The winning syrup was part of the gift basket presented to the prince at the official opening ceremonies.

“Prince Charles offered his congratulations and shook my hand,” Mr. Dodds said. “He asked questions about maple syrup production, including the length of the tapping season, when it occurs and the amount of sap we gather.”

Springdale Farm, located at 1699 Galbraith Road, has 2,200 taps that collect sap from mid-March to mid-April. About one litre of syrup is produced per tap. It generally takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup. Mr. Dodds’s grandfather began producing syrup at this site in 1918. Stephen’s parents took over the maple operation in 1983 and now Stephen looks after the production aspect of the business.

“We are thrilled for Springdale Farm and delighted to see producers in Lanark County receiving international awards, as we are known to be the Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario,” said Marie White, tourism manager for the County of Lanark. “The production of Maple Syrup is not easy but the excellent syrup we produce in Canada sets a gold standard, and this win at the Royal Winter Fair is a testament to that,” said Lanark County Warden John Fenik, “…one could say the Maple Syrup Capital is home to World Champion Maple Syrup!”

Maple syrup production plays a significant role in Canada’s economy and is a major tourism draw for this region, Ms. White added. “Springdale Farm is one of several award-winning maple attractions in our county. We have excellent maple producers with a variety of production styles.”

The County, she adds, celebrates the tradition of maple syrup production in North America, and brings the process to life in the present day. “Maple syrup is part of our national identity.”

Only in this part of North America do we have the conditions needed to make maple products. Six out of 150 species of maple trees in the world are considered the best for sugaring. These six are found in eight provinces in Canada, but the quantities are high enough for production only in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Lanark County is part of what is known as the Maple Belt, which extends into parts of the United States. Canada has been the largest producer and exporter of maple products in the world since the early 1930s.

The win by Springdale Farm comes on the heels of a prestigious honour at Wheelers Pancake House and Sugar Camp near McDonald’s Corners in October, where the significance of the production of maple products in Canada’s history has been commemorated with a Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque.