Pioneer Life in Upper Canada

Aboriginal Peoples Helping the Pioneers

   Maple Syrup 

     Before the settlers came to Upper Canada, the Native people were tapping maple trees to make a tasty, sweet treat called maple syrup.  They did this in the spring when the nights were frosty and cold but the days were quite warm and sometimes sunny.
     The Native people cut a hole into the trunk of the maple tree and then stuck a piece of wood into the hole.  The sap from the tree ran from the trunk into a birch-bark or deerskin container.
     Since they did not have iron pots to put into the fire, Native people put hot rocks into the containers holding the maple sap.  This heated the sap and thickened it.  The sweet syrup was then used for sweetening food.  Sometimes hot syrup was poured onto the snow which turned it into a sticky and delicious candy.
     The Native people shared their maple syrup secrets with the settlers who learned to tap trees and cook the sap too.  It was a hard job that took a lot of time and effort but it was still a favourite time for many children.

The settlers had some things that made the process easier.  They used drills to cut the holes in the trees and had metal "spiles" to drain the sap into tin pails.  They also had iron pots they could put over the fire to boil the sap.


Source: Long Ago Before I Was Born:
A Look At Life in Early Settler Times - A Unit for Grade 3