Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Sweetness always on tap at Lazy Maple Lodge in North Ogden

Family tradition continues to satisfy customers’ tastes

  • April 3 2024
  • By Corey LeBlanc    

NORTH OGDEN — It is ironic that the word ‘lazy’ graces the name of a product that involves plenty of work to produce. So, how did Lazy Maple Lodge – a family-run maple syrup business in North Ogden, Guysborough County – get its iconic moniker?

It happened during the early days of the enterprise, when founder Roy Simpson was checking on the production from the maple trees he was tapping on property owned by his son, Gary, and daughter-in-law, Bev. Accompanied by his helper on that occasion – granddaughter, Danielle – the pair came across one bucket that contained but a few drops of sap.

“It’s a lazy tree,” Gary, who now runs the operation, told The Journal, echoing the exclamation his daughter, Danielle, had in describing that particular tree’s lack of yield.

With his granddaughter’s observation serving as inspiration, Roy created the name that now adorns labels of their product that has made it to kitchen cupboards and tables since the late 1980s.

As for how making maple syrup became a decades’ long Simpson family tradition, the seeds were planted not long after Roy – a Second World War veteran, who passed away six months ago at the age of 99 – completed his tour of duty overseas. Shortly after returning to Canada, the native of Boylston, Guysborough County, decided to head to northern Ontario to spend some time with his sister and her family. While there, he got a job in the sugar bush, where his brother-in-law also worked each winter.

The passion he developed for making maple syrup stayed with him; one reignited while he was helping Gary and Bev construct the aforementioned North Ogden camp. One day, he asked the couple if he could tap some of the maple trees on the property.

A couple of trees, tarp and a pan – and, of course, sap – were the initial ingredients for what became Lazy Maple Lodge maple syrup.

Gary, who inherited that passion from his father, now oversees the “small operation” that includes 400 or so maple trees. Tubing snakes across the property, carrying sap to a collection tank in the sugar shack, where it awaits its transfer it to the wood-fired evaporator.

“I love it,” he said of what he described as a “hobby,” despite the toil involved in producing 200 or so litres of maple syrup each year.

When it comes to this season, Gary started tapping trees on March 1, a timeline he described as “average,” while noting that its kick-off is greatly dependent on weather conditions.

That ‘normal’ launch of the season comes after a couple of earlier ones – trees starting to produce sap as early as late January or early February in recent years.

In the March 19 conversation with The Journal, he said the season was “going pretty well,” noting that there had been a string of ideal conditions – cold nights and mild days – to promote the flow.

The 200 litres or so produced each season by the small operation have made their way to tables near and far; sales mostly made by word of mouth or through their weekly visits to the weekly summer market that attracts visitors from around the corner – and the world – to the Guysborough waterfront.

As indicated on Maple from Canada – maplefromcanada.com – the country produces 71 per cent of the world’s maple syrup, 91 per cent coming from Quebec, while Nova Scotia, Ontario, New Brunswick and PEI also boast producers. There are more than 8,600 maple syrup businesses in Canada, with exports being made to more than 50 countries.

As for when this season will wrap up, neither Gary nor any other producer in the province are able to provide a pinpoint answer.

Gary offered, with a laugh, “When the sap stops flowing.”