When Jacques Cartier discovered Canada, he was the first European to discover the sugar maple and maple water. A Native American told him that in his language, the word for sugar maple is “couton.”
Enter the kettle
It is thanks to the iron cauldron brought from France that our ancestors and the Native Americans learned together to make maple sugar. In around 1676, a missionary named Chrestien Leclercq tells us that he witnessed the use of an iron cauldron by Native Americans and our ancestors to make maple sugar.
Our ancestors were not familiar with corn, squash or beans before arriving in Canada, but they introduced the Native Americans to herbs for cooking, potatoes and flour. In sharing their knowledge they created a new cuisine.
King Louis XIV adored sugared almonds, and in around 1700, a lady from Montréal, Agathe de Repentigny, sent him some made with maple sugar, a product considered a curiosity back then.
Banique (there are several versions) was a cake made with corn flour and maple sugar. When travelling, the Native Americans and the coureurs des bois would carry flour and maple sugar with them, which they mixed with water and then cooked to make a meal that gave them energy for long trips.
The first wooden sugar shacks were built in around 1868. Around that time the first shack sugar parties were held, meeting the needs of many nostalgic city dwellers wishing to return to their roots in the country.
In Quebec the first sugar shack evaporator was invented by the Small brothers. The evaporator is a nineteenth century American invention, but it was adapted to maple syrup production in Quebec by the Small brothers, who patented their invention in 1889 so the use of the iron cauldron died out in favour of the new equipment, which made it possible to increase the quality and the quantity of the syrup produced.
The first can
Before 1951, nobody bought maple syrup in a 591 ml can! When you wanted to get some, you bought a gallon. The traditional drawing appearing on the cans since then comes from a contest held by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1951.
Maple syrup from Quebec is sold in more than fifty countries. There is a molecule in our maple syrup (Quebecol) that is found nowhere else in nature. It also contains various quantities of amino acids, proteins, organic acids and vitamins. Quebecol is part of the polyphenol family, molecules that are good for your health.