The 21th OVLR Maple Syrup Rally
Shawville, Quebec, 2009
Spring is a wonderful time of year. When the days warm up, the sap starts to flow. The great tradition of maple sugaring is a great way to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Maple syrup is a natural and very unique product. It is only made in Eastern Canada and the US northeast from the sap of sugar maple and black maple trees. As Spring approaches, sugar makers take to maple forests (sugarbushes) to tap maple trees. A drill is used to make a small hole from which the tree sap flows in the warmth of the day. The sap is collected and brought back to camp to be boiled. The water is driven off and the sap thickens to a sweeter maple syrup.
The Event (April 19):
For the past 21 years, members of OVLR have been celebrating the coming of Spring with gathering at Vern Fairhead's sugar bush in Shawville Quebec during the maple sap run. The event offers people an excuse to get their Land Rover out from under that snow bank and blow the cobwebs out the dust off and replace the winter air in the tires. For the hardy, it is an opportunity for a little winter camping that weekend. This is the first major club event of the season for Land Rover owners around eastern Ontario and western Quebec. Food, tradition, and some white and brown laning!
The Maple Syrup Rally this year will be April 19th just after the peak of the sap run this week. The sap run loves freezing nights and warm days or a blanket of snow which is what we have this year. Some years there are last minute changes but Vern has confirmed this will be day.
8:30 early bird volunteer arrival (this could be you !)
9:00 convoy to Vern's
OVLR needs to know how many people expect to be attending so the proper amount of food can be purchased. If you are planning on coming, please reply to Terry King at firstname.lastname@example.org before 5:00pm on Wednesday April 15th.
The cost of the Rally is five dollars per person to cover the cost of breakfast. Children under 12 years old are free. To drive on the off-road course, you need to be a member of OVLR (Our insurance policy requires this).
- There will be a traditional breakfast of french toast, sausage, fruit, and other goodies.
- This event also has a participatory side to it. To appreciate the fresh maple syrup you will be having with your breakfast, members are encouraged to help by making it! If the conditions are right there is a gathering of sap from the trees. Vern operates a sugar shack where the sap is boiled down to fresh maple syrup. For some, this is an opportunity to see how it is really done. It is also a chance to restock on some real maple syrup that should keep you going for the coming year! What can be better than making your own?
- There is always some white (ok, sometimes brown/mud) laning down some abandoned rail beds, through the sugar bush, and around in the lands near the sugar bush. For some, it is an opportunity to learn that snow can be just as frustrating and difficult to traverse as mud.
- As always, there will be lots of fresh maple syrup for sale. To quote Vern's email: "I am just in for a twenty minute lunch then boil til dark. The season got off to a slow start, quality is excellent, made the lightest syrup in many years, and we are going through our second really good run. Should not be a problem with quantity, prices are $15.00 per litre, two litre jugs are NOT available this year, but I have quite a variety of glass, tin, and plastic one litre and some four litre priced according to local competition, up a little from last year but way below that of Renfrew, Lanark, and Ottawa regions."
- Bring your check book! though Vern may take a vintage Indian motorcycle as barter (remember, this syrup is the real stuff, and you can help make your own! )
If demand warrants it people can convoy from the Westgate shopping center at 9am. (Corner of Carling Avenue and Merivale). If you want to convoy, mention that in the RSVP. The following directions assume that you can find the Champlain Bridge at the north end of Island Park Drive in Ottawa. Crossing the bridge over the Ottawa River, you will go straight to the second set of lights where the road ends at a "T". Go west (left). Follow the upper road (highway #148) through to Aylmer, past the Canadian Tire, to a set of lights at the park (there is a war memorial in the center of the park to your right. The town library is across the street on your left) in the center of town. #148 does a right turn here at these lights. Follow highway 148 out of Aylmer and proceed to Shawville (you will pass by the villages of Luskville, Quyon etc.). Drive through Shawville. About one mile past Shawville, you will look for a side road on the right. The side road is marked with a small green sign that says "Radford" (there are a pair of barns across the road on the left hand side of #148). Turn right. Go straight, past the church until the road ends. Turn right, then take the first left. You will take the first left at the next concession road. One mile from this turn, you will find Vern's farm on the left.
Note: The Quyon Ferry is OPEN so that is an alternate route for those in the west end.
In the past, as the event takes place on a Sunday, various members of the club have come up early and done a little winter camping in the sugar bush. If you are interested in some winter camping, give Vern a ring at (819) 647-5544. There is plenty of wood about, and Vern won't mind you using some of the wood by the Sugar shack, so long as you help stoke the fire in there a little bit during the day! So, warmth for the evening is available! Members are also welcome to come up on Saturday and help Vern with some sap gathering and maple syrup production.