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2013- David Dickinson
At the annual general meeting on the Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia held at Riverview Room, Jenkins Hall in Bible Hill on January 19, 2013, David Dickinson of West Brook, Cumberland County was inducted into the Nova Scotia Maple Hall of Fame.
David is a 4th generation sugar maker and his legacy began when his Great-Grandfather, David Dickinson, purchased 100 acres of Crown Land at a cost of $.44/acre in the 1880’s. That first sugar woods, of about 1,000 taps, produced until about 1912 when a forest fire burned from Shulie on the Chignecto Bay to the Maccan River, destroying everything in its path, including the sugar woods.
With the loss of those maple trees, David’s Grandfather, Chesley Dickinson, started buying excess maple syrup from other sugar makers in the Canaan and Mapleton areas and began marketing it. David’s father (Seymour), and Uncle (Karl) carried on this business along with having a small evaporator, 2 ½ feet by 6 feet and tapping about 300 roadside trees in the West Brook and Canaan areas. Seymour and Karl formed a partnership called Dickinson Bros. which David continues to operate under to the present day.
The outbuildings for this operation were located near the original house on the farm with the evaporator in one room and the second room used for bottling syrup and making cream and sugar. After the syrup was cooked on the finishing stove, the pans were put on the cold cement floor to cool. According to David’s sisters, he became immersed in the maple industry at a very young age. One day a pan of hot syrup had been set on the floor to cool when David fell into it. Seymour pulled him out and the men quickly began to take the steaming snowsuit off David and then his dad began running for the house with David screaming all the way. Afraid he had been badly burned, his father and mother checked him over from head to toe, but found no marks. When they finally got him calmed down, they learned that David had been upset because his favorite hat had fallen off in the run across the yard. Unfortunately, his father suffered severe burns on his hands when he grabbed him from the hot syrup and he was not able to do much during that season. He considered it, however, a small price to pay. Needless to say, the next day the men built a cooling bench where the pans could sit in snow far above any inquisitive toddlers.
In 1964 and 1965, David attended MacDonald College near Montreal which had an operating sugar bush. Professor Archie Jones was doing some of the early experimental pipeline work there at that time and in 1966, David’s first spring back on the farm, he purchased enough tubing from Dominion & Grimm for 50 taps. It was ¼ inch clear 3M tubing. The next year he put out 150 more taps with blue ‘Lamb’ tubing. This was all on a vented system that had to be taken down and washed every year, then put back up the next spring. By then, David, his Dad and Uncle were boiling from 500 taps and still purchasing syrup from other producers to make product which was sold around the province.
In the early 1970’s there seemed to be a renewed interest in the maple industry in Nova Scotia. Gordon Kinsman, who was then head of the Horticulture and Biology Section of the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing contacted Fred Laing of the University of Vermont and made arrangements for David, his father Seymour and his father-in-law, Lorne Smith, to meet him in Vermont to see some of the operations there. They went very early in March and toured some maple operations but unfortunately it was a cold spell and none were actually boiling.
In 1972, the decision was made to expand and the first step was to lease a former sugar bush in Canaan. Then David and his Uncle Karl drove to Quebec and met with Bill Nicholson who was the dealer for Lamb tubing in Canada and while it was during the summer, Mr. Nicholson took them to several operations that were using oil-fired evaporators. David’s wife, Karen, and his Aunt Ruth can attest to the long waits in the car while Karl and David gleaned every bit of information they could from those producers.
In the fall of 1972 they built the sugar house which is still used today, ordered an oil-fired 12 x 5 foot evaporator with steam hoods and tubing. In 1973 they boiled from 1700 taps which rose to 3300 taps by 1974. They knew that they would be developing the sugar bush further, purchasing land next to the leased property, so a second oil-fired evaporator (14 x 5 feet) was purchased, also with steam hoods. For those of you too young to remember, furnace oil prices were just beginning to increase to the higher price of $.23/gallon, which was about $.05/litre. As the prices kept increasing, by the early 1980’s it was getting too expensive to continue on the same way with the two evaporators, so in 1982 David bought his first Reverse Osmosis machine, with one 8-inch membrane and two 4-inch membranes. It seemed to work pretty well, so the next year, David removed one of the oil-fired evaporators.
Since 1973, there has been a slow, but steady increase in the number of taps from 1,700 to the 19,000 he hopes to have tapped in the upcoming season. David is now on his 4th Reverse Osmosis and over the years he has added a pre-heater hood and air injection system, a filter press and a maple butter stirring machine. These are just a few examples of his continued updating of equipment. Propane stoves are used for cooking the syrup when making cream, sugar, butter and jelly.
Over the past 40 years David has changed the marketing from buying bulk syrup to selling some bulk syrup, as well as selling a lot of product directly from the camp. As well, several larger markets are supplied with product year round.
Over the years David has served in many leadership roles in the Maple and Wild Blueberry industries, other Commodity Associations, and the Nova Scotia Crop and Livestock Commission. David is a charter member of the Maple Producers Association, has served several terms on the Board of Directors and as MPANS President. He is always very willing to share his knowledge and experience with fellow producers, with bureaucrats, and the maple buying public.
David and Karen have three sons. Tim lives and works in Australia and David and Karen recently spent a month visiting him there. Andrew lives on the farm in West Brook with his wife and children (hopefully, the 5th and 6th generations on the farm). Dan lives and works in Toronto.
On behalf of the entire maple industry in Nova Scotia, the Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia takes great pleasure in announcing that David Dickinson is the 2013 inductee into the Nova Scotia Maple Industry Hall of Fame!
2011- Avard and Jean Bentley
At the annual general meeting on the Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia (MPANS) held at the Riverview Room, Jenkins Hall, Nova Scotia Agriculture College in Bible Hill on January 22, 2011, Avard and Jean Bentley of Westchester Station, Cumberland County were inducted into the Nova Scotia Maple Industry Hall of Fame.
Mr. and Mrs. Bentley’s involvement with the maple industry spans more than three decades. Their sugar camp was built on Westchester Mountain in 1978, pipeline was installed in 1980 and the first boil took place in the spring of 1981. Throughout the years, the family run maple business has prospered and has grown to be one of Nova Scotia’s largest operations. Taps have increased from the original 1,500, and in 2010 sap was collected and boiled from 35,000 taps.
The Bentleys have been very active in the Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia (MPANS) having served in a variety of positions. Avard has served on the MPANS board of directors several times, and has been Vice-President and President. Jean was secretary/treasurer for many years and was active on the organizing committee of the Maple Festival of Nova Scotia. Jean and Avard have been prominent in the annual Westchester Maple Festival sponsored by the Westchester Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary.
The Bentleys also have a large lowbush blueberry operation and can be seen at most Wild Blueberry Association of Nova Scotia meetings. Avard is a member and chair of the Nova Scotia Crop and Livestock Insurance Commission. Jean and Avard are involved in several other community organizations.
Avard attended the first ever North American Maple Syrup Council (NAMSC) meeting in 1986 and has been a director of NAMSC ever since. The annual general meetings of North American Maple Syrup Council and International Maple Syrup Institute (IMSI) and the associated technical sessions have been held in Nova Scotia on two occasions, in 1993 and 2003. Avard and Jean were very active in the planning committee on each occasion, with Avard serving as Co-Chair of both organizing committees. The NAMSC/IMSI annual conference will be held in Nova Scotia again in 2014 and Avard is once again on the organizing committee. Avard has been the MPANS official delegate to NAMSC and ISMI for many years. Avard has been recognized by the international maple industry and was inducted into the American Maple Hall of Fame in Croghan, New York in 2001.
Members of the Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia thank Avard and Jean Bentley for their numerous contributions to the industry over the years and are very pleased to induct them into the Nova Scotia Maple Industry Hall of Fame.
2010- Dale McIsaac
At the annual general meeting on the Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia held at Riverview Room, Jenkins Hall, NSAC in Bible Hill on January 23, 2010, Dale McIsaac of Amherst, Cumberland County was inducted into the Nova Scotia Maple Hall of Fame.
Dale grew up on a potato and beef farm in Florenceville, New Brunswick in the Saint John River valley. The oldest of the four children of Bill and Lois McIsaac, Dale spent his youth working on the farm or playing sports. In particular he excelled at basketball, soccer and track and field.
After high school Dale headed for NSAC and enrolled in the degree program, majoring in plant science, Dale spent three years in Truro, as much of it in the gym as in the classroom. At that time, the degree program was 5 years, and the final 2 had to be completed out of province. With many of his “swampie” friends, Dale moved to MacDonald College on the west island of Montreal. Perhaps it was a prediction of things to come as Dale and two buddies from NSAC lived in an apartment on Maple Avenue in St Anne de Bellevue.
One Saturday night in the fall of his graduation year, a friend came to Dale’s door, looking for a ride home for a member of the John Abbot College basketball team the friend was coaching. The player needing a ride was Susan Priebe. And thus began the chain of events that brought Dale to Nova Scotia and his work with the maple producers of Nova Scotia.
After graduation Dale returned to New Brunswick and started work as a production extension specialist in the potato industry. One of the perks of that position was annual trips to Florida in the winter to monitor the seed potato trials. The next year Susan enrolled at NSAC. While visiting Susan, Dale stopped in to see Gordon Kinsman of the Horticulture and Biology Branch of the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing. There wasn’t anything available in Dale’s specialty areas, potatoes and plant pathology. Walter Humphries, the Maple Specialist, was going back to Ontario and Mr. Kinsman suggested that if Dale was interested in learning about a new industry there was a job for him in Truro. Dale and Sue married in April 1977 and Dale started as Maple Extension Specialist with the Department of Agriculture in May.
Maple was an entirely new commodity for Dale and the only people who knew much about it were the producers so Dale spent the early years on the road and in the woods, walking, talking, listening and learning. There aren’t too many maple operations in Nova Scotia that Dale has not visited and very few Maple Festival dinners he has not enjoyed first hand. And, although a Nova Scotia maple woods in January are not quite as warm as the seed potato fields in Homestead, Florida were, given a choice, Dale would be in the woods! In the almost 33 years since Dale started working with the Nova Scotia Industry, it has grown from less than 70,000 taps and a farm gate value of about $75,000 to consistently over 350,00 taps with a farm gate value of over $1,250,000.
Dale stayed with the Department of Agriculture, eventually becoming a senior specialist for the maple and blueberry industries. Shortly after the birth of their first son (Ben), Dale’s office was transferred from Truro to Nappan in Cumberland and the family moved to Amherst in 1981. Their second son, Zac, was born in 1983. Both boys can be seen in old brochures promoting the Maple Festivals!
Dale’s office was transferred back to Truro in 1995, but Dale and Sue were settled in Amherst and chose not to move. Dale instead made the long daily commute through the Wentworth Valley, and after it was built, through the Cobequid Pass. In 1999, the province decided it would no longer offer extension services to producers and eliminated the extension branch. Dale moved on to industry, working for a blueberry processor in PEI, and then joining AgraPoint in Truro. Dale is now semi-retired, and continues to provide extension to the maple and blueberry industries as an associate of AgraPoint. He also does volunteer administration work for MPANS and is currently treasurer.
Members of the Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia are very pleased to induct Dale McIsaac into the Nova Scotia Maple Industry Hall of Fame.
2009- Arthur (Art) & Marguerite Hodgson
At the annual general meeting on the Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia held at the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill on January 17, 2009, Art and Marguerite Hodgson of Wyvern, Cumberland County were inducted into the Nova Scotia Maple Hall of Fame.
Arthur Clyde Hodgson was born on March 25, 1930. He grew up making maple. Art’s forefathers made maple syrup in the late 1800s. Families from Wyvern and Farmington congregated in a community encampment in what became known as Hodgsons’ woods. There they would make the year’s supply of maple sugar for their domestic use. Blackened stones and ashes from the old fire pit can still be found in the woods.
The Hodgson maple operation commenced in 1902. Art’s grandfather (Aaron) had acquired title to the property. Together with his son (Art’s father True), they built a maple camp and a retail operation. Business flourished. Horses and bob-sleds were used to collect the sap and the operation grew to 5,000 kettles with two teams and 10 men.
A new camp was built in 1940 on the site of the old camp. In 1960, a modern 5’×16’ Grimm evaporator was installed.
Marguerite came on the scene in 1958 and she quickly became an active partner.
It was during the early 1960s that the famous maple sugar stirring apparatus was developed. It consisted of a wooded framework placed over a large tub of cooked sugar. It had a beater with a number of wooded blades and was rotated by turning hand cranks on each side of the apparatus.
In 1976, a new camp was built beside the house in Wyvern. The sap had to be moved from the sugar bush to the new camp, so tubing was installed in the woods and two mainlines were erected to carry the sap from 6,000 taps over one mile, all downhill, to the camp.
This move to roadside where there was electricity prompted Art to update the sugar stirring apparatus. He used the rear-end differential from a 1930s pick-up truck and converted it to run on electricity. He also adapted an old dairy butter churn to stir maple butter and added a pre-heater hood to the evaporator. A reverse osmosis machine was purchased in 1981. It was one of the first reverse osmosis machines used in Nova Scotia.
Art’s son Michael took over the operation in 2000 and still taps some or all of the woods when he is able.
Throughout his life, Art was a keen supported of the maple industry in Nova Scotia. He rarely missed a field day or an annual meeting, and he made many friends in the maple industry. He served as a MPANS director. He was an early adopter of new technology in his maple operation.
Arthur Hodgson passed away on April 19, 2005 and is missed within the industry and his community.
Members of the Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia are very pleased to induct Art and Marguerite Hodgson into the Nova Scotia Maple Industry Hall of Fame.
2008- Max Spicer
At the annual general meeting on the Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia held at the Tatamagouche Centre on January 26, 2008, Max Spicer of Spencer’s Island in Cumberland County was inducted into the Nova Scotia Maple Hall of Fame. Max was a very good ambassador for the industry and was always willing to assist fellow producers and the industry.
In the 1960’s Max worked at the Chignecto Game Sanctuary for the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forests. He participated in the maple operation there, and his interest in maple production and woodlot stewardship developed. In the late 1960s, Max and his sons Robbie and Peter tapped some trees on the family farm, boiling down the sap in a huge iron pot after being banished from the kitchen by Patty. In the winter of 1973, Max, Robbie and Peter tapped 300 trees on the family woodlot. The sap was hauled in a tank on a sled about 4 miles from where it was collected and was boiled down on a small evaporator in the shed behind the house. At first, the sled with the tank was hauled by a snowmobile, but the Fordson Major tractor worked better. Most days, Robbie and Peter made 3 trips after school to gather the sap and haul it to the evaporator. Max did the boiling after he got home from work.
After Robbie and Peter were off to university, in 1976 Max built a sugar camp in the woods from which he could run the entire maple operation. After his retirement in 1977, Max was able to work fulltime in his woodlot and on the farm. He went wholeheartedly into maple production collecting sap and boiling from 1,300 taps. The boys helped tap during their spring breaks. When Peter and his wife moved back to Spencer’s Island, he was able to help Max quite a bit. Max’s grandchildren also spent a fair bit of time at the sugar woods with him, mainly helping with the tasting of the wonderful maple products. The annual production averaged about 200 gallons of syrup. Max also made maple cream, maple butter, and maple sugar.
Max’s evaporator was wood fired. He also incorporated the modern technology for the time such as tubing, vacuum pumps, propane finishing stoves and pressure filters. His maple products were of very high quality and were in much demand. In fact, he could never produce enough maple products to meet the demand. He sold most of it locally, but each year he had personal orders from as far away as British Columbia.
Max was at his best when people visited his camp, and he was able to entertain and show off a bit. Word was that occasionally there might have even been a bit of dark rum to go with the maple products. Max put on tours for a number of groups. He always welcomed school class trips to the sugar bush.
Max served on the Board of Directors of MPANS for several years and was President. He helped at several maple promotional events at the Atlantic Winter Fair and at provincial and county exhibitions. He was often asked to speak to the media about maple production and about the season because of his easy going manner and his colourful way. Max and Patty attended many North American Maple Syrup Council annual conferences in various parts of the maple world. They also were very involved with the planning of the conference when it was hosted by MPANS in Truro
Max always did a great job promoting the maple industry. He encouraged people to get started in maple production and was a mentor to them. He was instrumental in the establishment of the annual pancake supper put on by the Advocate Volunteer Fire Brigade which is very popular and is a major fundraiser for the brigade.
Members of the Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia are very pleased to induct J. L. Maxwell Spicer into the Nova Scotia Maple Industry Hall of Fame. Max passed away on February 17, 2004. He will be missed by all who new him.
2007- Keith and Lorna Crowe
All members would like to thank Keith and Lorna Crowe for all of their work for the Nova Scotia maple industry over the years and to congratulate them on being the first inductees into the Nova Scotia Maple Hall of Fame. The Nova Scotia Maple Hall of Fame has been created to honour the leaders in this province’s sugar making industry. The induction of Keith and Lorna occurred at the MPANS annual general meeting on January 20, 2007 held in Springhill at the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill.
Keith Crowe is a fifth generation sugar maker. His family has made maple in ten different sugar camps in the area of East Mapleton for over 150 years. He has been a maple producer himself since 1952. His operation started out with 775 trees tapped on one lot, and a camp about a mile back in the woods. A new camp was built road side to take advantage of the modern convenience of electricity in 1976. The operation has since grown to approximately 27,000 trees tapped, on two lots. During this time, Keith has also been a maple equipment dealer and has been instrumental in also helping his maple producing colleagues grow their operations. Many changes in technology have been incorporated in their operation over the years, at times in a guinea pig scenario, such as various tubing systems, oil fired evaporators, stainless steel equipment, vacuum systems, forced draft wood fired evaporators, automatic drawoffs, reverse osmosis, & air injected boiling pans. In an average season, approximately 2500 gallons of syrup are produced and ends up being shipped to areas all over the world in the form of syrup, butter or cream. Both Keith and Lorna have served the Maple Producers Association in various executive capacities over the years and remain active in Association activities.”
Lorna and Keith were married in 1961. They have 3 children. Lyndon, the eldest, and his family lives on the farm in East Mapleton.