History of Maple

Reaching back in history:

Maple trees have been indigenous to the North American and Canadian landscape for many centuries. Well before the first European settlers landed on the eastern shores of North American continent, the various local Native American tribes had been harvesting maple sap, the sweet liquid that oozes from the bark of the maple tree.

Legends of Maple

Legend has it that it all started with a perky squirrel. During a period of famine, a youth from the Iroquois tribe (one of the indigenous tribes of Canada) noticed an energetic squirrel licking the sap oozing from a maple tree, and realised that this was the source of its vitality.

Maple makes its mark

While the legends may vary, it is widely accepted that the Native American tribes around the St Lawrence river were the first to harvest maple sap as an energy drink, and passed on this knowledge to the European settlers who started arriving on their shores towards the end of the 15th century. Jacques Cartier, the French explorer who landed on the eastern shores of Canada around 1540, first observed the North American maple trees while exploring the St Lawrence river, which flows northeast across Canadian provinces including Quebec before draining into the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the Atlantic ocean.

history of maple

Maple gains ground

It was after this that written accounts of the maple tree and the sap appeared, marking the beginning of its widespread popularity and use. The iron and copper cauldrons that the settlers brought over with them were used to boil large quantities of sap – a first step towards maple sugar production. Over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, maple sugar and vinegar continued to grow in popularity. Maple sugar coated almonds were sent to the French King Louis IV by Montreal businesswoman Agathe de Repentigny, and became a greatly appreciated royal treat.

Maple for the masses

The 20th century saw more developments in the maple industry. A method for preserving maple syrup was developed, and shortly after maple butter (100% maple) was created for the first time. Maple syrup had hitherto only been available by the gallon was now packaged in 541 millilitre cans for the first time in 1951 – cans which are still in use today.

Maple Today:

In the second half of the 20th century, maple syrup became the most popular maple product available and started to appear in supermarkets. It now exists in four luscious varieties. Today, maple syrup and maple products from Canada are exported to 71 countries around the world. Maple products are prized by chefs everywhere as flavourful and versatile ingredients, and are recognized around the globe as pure, entirely natural, delicious and with amazing health benefits!