About Saint John's Maple Syrup

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History: A Brief Timeline of Saint John's Maple Syrupsap collection, 1945

  • 1942. In response to sugar shortages during WWII, Saint John’s begins making maple syrup from sugar maple trees in the Abbey Arboretum. 150 taps were put out in the inaugural season. The first sugar shack is built by the old ski hill. Trees were tapped once every 2-3 years due to the high amount of work involved, with sometimes as many as 3,700 taps in a season.
  • 1970. Sugar shack burns down under suspicious circumstances. A new sugar shack is built at its present location and a used evaporator is bought to aid in syrup cooking. Records of maple syrup production between 1942 and 1970 were lost in the fire.
    Teaching inside sugar shack
  • 1974. The highest number of taps were installed (3700). Also the year of the latest date of first sap collection of the season (April 3).
  • 1985. Most sap collected, in gallons, during a season (21,179). Also highest number of gallons of syrup produced in a season (560).
  • 1996. A small addition is added to the south side of the sugar shack for better wood storage and easier access for loading wood into the evaporator.
  • 2002. Saint John’s Outdoor University (formerly Saint John’s Arboretum) is given joint responsibility for the maple syrup operation to increase education outreach, coordinate volunteers and assist with making syrup production an annual occurrence at Saint John’s.child collecting sap
  • 2009. The south addition to sugar shack was added to increase educational space for sugar shack tours.
  • 2012. An early (too) warm spring! Lowest number of gallons of syrup produced in a season (39)
  • 2013. With the help of generous donors, the Abbey purchased two new evaporators. The production evaporator, “Big Burnie,” can boil sap at a rate of 175-200 gallons per hour. A smaller evaporator, “Little Larry,” was purchased for educational purposes. It can be fired with much smaller quantities of sap making it possible to have sap cooking during most tours throughout the season.
  • 2017. Year the earliest date of first sap collection has occurred (Feb 18)

Annual Reports

Production data and summary of the maple syrup season at Saint John's.