M-m-m-maple syrup
from Agriculture and AgriFood Canada

In the culinary imagination of the world, maple products are associated with Canada, the world’s leading producer and exporter of maple products since the early 20th century.

For Aboriginal peoples living in the Maple Belt, and for the settlers who followed, the trade and supplementary income generated by these products were important. To a degree, these products represent, both at home and abroad, the national identity and way of life of Canadians and are a symbol of the end of the Canadian winter.

There are more than 150 species of maple trees in the world, but only a few of the 13species native to North America produce sap that can be used to manufacture maple products.

In Canada, the six species with sap that is sweet enough to produce maple sugar and syrup are found in eight of the 10 provinces. However, only Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have enough sugar maples for a real maple industry. These trees offer a sap that is high in sucrose and produce the best yield of syrup through tapping. These four provinces are part of a larger maple region known as the Maple Belt, which also includes some parts of the north-eastern United States and the Midwest.

The Aboriginal peoples who inhabited this vast region before the arrival of the Europeans were very knowledgeable about maple sugar. They knew how to extract the sap in the spring and the products they made from the sap were used for trade. Later on, the colonists who came to settle in this region learned to boil down the maple sap into syrup and sugar and acquired a taste for it. This activity became a yearly ritual to mark the transition from winter to spring and it was a time of celebration for friends and families. Maple products were used for domestic consumption as well as trade.

Over the years, they have provided a significant off-farm income for family businesses, and, by the late 19th century, maple products had become a valuable export resource. During this time, however, the United States was the world’s leading producer of maple products, a position it maintained for several decades.

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