History of Meaford Maples

Meaford Maples is a living example of the history of Canadian maple syrup production.

Growing from family roots going back over 80 years, Meaford Maples was established in 2013 by Karen Smith Turner and Steve Smith. In the 1930’s, Steve’s father, Ralph, helped his own father, Edgar, make maple syrup on a farm in Perth County, Ontario. They collected sap in pails and boiled it in a kettle over an open fire. In the 1960’s, Ralph, in turn, taught Steve how to make maple syrup.


Early History of Smith Family Maple Syrup Production

historical red sap buckets hang on maple trees
Photo of Ralph and Eleanor Smith's maple bush at Bannockburn, ON. ca. 1985


Edgar Smith teaches his son Ralph how to make maple syrup in Perth County, ON. 


Ralph Smith in turn, teaches Steve and his siblings how to make syrup in Goderich, ON


Steve Smith makes his own syrup on a farm in St. Vincent Twp which is now part of Meaford, ON.

historical maple syrup production from 1980's
Ralph Smith boiling in his sugar shack. ca. 1985


Ralph Smith and his wife Eleanor made syrup near Bannockburn, Huron County, ON


Steve’s brother Greg and partner, Cindy made syrup in Huron County, ON using an evaporator made from an old oil tank


Steve’s sister, Ann and husband Paul made syrup in Haliburton County, ON with their daughter, Arden. Arden is now a fourth generation sugar maker, continuing the family’s history of Canadian maple syrup production.


Karen’s sister Sharon and husband Shep made syrup in North Grenville, ON and continue to do so. 

Meaford Maples is born and history continues


Meaford Maples was established. Karen and Steve made their first syrup in the middle of the bush using the evaporator previously used by brother Greg. The first year, they collected sap in pails. A tarp kept some of the rain off them while they boiled, and a solar powered light helped them see as they continued to boil into the night.

woman reading her phone in front of an evaporator which is used for maple syrup production. She is under a tarp in the woods
Karen does some surfing while waiting for a slow boil in the bush.


Karen and Steve installed a short mainline and connected 50-60 trees to it via 5/16” tubing. The only way they knew where they had left the evaporator was because the chimney stuck up out of the snow. To boil syrup, they had to stand in a snow cave. That summer, the first “real” evaporator was purchased, used, near Sault Ste. Marie, ON. It was brought across Georgian Bay via the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry to Meaford Maples where it was put into storage until a new sugar house could be constructed.

truck pulling a trailer laden with maple syrup production equipment
The new-to-Meaford-Maples evaporator and assorted equipment arrives.


The Smith’s started using 3/16” tubing to bring sap down the hill to the driveshed from about 80 taps. Steve also made a simple reverse osmosis machine which removed half the water from the sap, drastically increasing production from each weekends’ efforts. Finally, near syrup was transported back to Toronto where it was finished on Monday nights using turkey fryers in the carport.

man in front of wooden shed used for maple syrup production
Dave Smith assisting with the boiling at the original sugar house.


The first sugar house was a small shed that was previously used to shelter a tractor. At last, they were out of the rain and cold winds.


Karen and Steve stopped syrup production while they built their rammed earth house.

A new sugar house at last


Finally, a new sugar house was constructed just above the new house so syrup could be made in relative comfort. 

steam rising from an evaporator
Steam rises from the evaporator in the new sugar house.


After the two-year hiatus from syrup production, the evaporator was moved into the new sugar house. That same season, Meaford Maples was certified Organic by Ecocert Canada. By this time, the operation was tapping about 150 trees.

power washer being used to clean tanks in the snow
Karen uses a power washer to clean the storage tanks before the season starts.


The interior of the sugar house was completed at last. 

Despite a very short, two-week season, they decided to expand the operation and installed 32 new lines up the hill and across the flatter section at the top. The lines were all connected to a 1 ¼” mainline that ran along the bottom of the slope to carry sap to a new 4000 litre, stainless steel tank.


A new total of 750 taps collected a large quantity of sap and along with ideal weather, Meaford Maples made a substantial amount of maple syrup.

Many guests visited during two Maple Weekend Open Houses in April.

Meaford Maples attended many pop-up events around the area and made their syrup available at the Meaford Farmers Market. Many rave reviews followed!


Karen and Steve will continue the family history of Canadian maple syrup production by teaching their grandchildren how to make delicious, organic maple syrup.  If you have not yet tried it, come and get some today!