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The Maple Hill Farm – Ferme côte d’érables Inc.’s story begins quite some time ago. The 35-acre property on which our farm sits has been a hub for social gatherings and community life since the early 20th century. It is an important local landmark, known in our area as the “Despatie Maple Farm – La ferme Despatie”. It is a particularly meaningful place for Northern-Ontarians who, for decades, have come to celebrate the arrival of spring and enjoy the land’s first harvest of the year – pure maple syrup!
The site is unique to our community and is situated about 20 minutes from Sudbury’s downtown core.
The first ‘Maple Sugar Shack – Cabane à sucre’ was built in 1916 and became a family-gathering space especially during ‘sugaring time’. Since about 1920, people would also assemble after church for meals and celebrations.
In the mid 1950s, the 35-acre property was purchased by Lucien and Alice Despatie and, in 1967, they began to commercialize syrup products and to host large public events. The Farm also formalized its relationships with local school boards by offering guided tours/tastings. The public was also invited to horse-drawn sleigh rides during the winter. A newer sugar shack – cabane à sucre was built in the 1970s for production as well as for public demonstrations. Taffy-tasting parties were held on the property until 2014 and again for a final year in 2017, 50 years after syrup production first began at this site.