Two hundred and fifteen years? Let that time span register for a minute. That’s 65 years before this country Canada existed.
That’s how long Spencerville’s Drummond family has operated a sugar bush in Grenville County… 215 years, starting so long ago that the Drummonds had barely arrived in the future Canada as United Empire Loyalists.
Drummond’s Sugar Bush is believed to be the oldest continuously operated business of the type in Ontario, possibly in the entire country. In fact, it’s probably one of the oldest businesses of any kind in Canada.
The family credits Native North Americans for twice helping them along their way, the first time by escorting them through the Mohawk Valley, and then by teaching them the fine art of boiling down syrup from sap tapped from maple trees. With its many nutrients, the syrup was like a magic elixir.
Nine generations later and the latest crop of Drummonds is working the pancake house during syrup season – now ended for 2017 – keeping the sweet business alive and thriving.
In talking to current bush boss Robert Drummond, you get the clear message the family doesn’t want to make the operation any bigger, to extend the season like other Eastern Ontario maple producers have done with all sorts of activities and attractions. They’re content to sell most of their limited run of syrup applied to pancakes on site or bottled to take home.
Yes, the Drummonds – whose primary income comes from a fuel company and a construction business – are happy with what they have, content to open for a relatively short spring season almost as a prolonged social gathering of family members and close friends who come out on weekends to lend a hand.
Up to 500 people a day can pass through the doors searching out a feed of pancakes, sausages and matriarch Marilynne Drummond’s home-baked beans, keeping the help hopping.
“We simply couldn’t do it without family and friends,” Robert states, another reminder of the importance of those closest to us.