Our family is proud to say that we have three generations of McLachlan’s working together to run the maple syrup operation.
Fort Rose Maple Company is a family owned and operated business. Specializing in the production of pure maple syrup and value added maple products. Complementing the maple operation is a Pancake House with a buffet style setting. Brunch includes pancakes, sausage, maple baked beans, coleslaw, fruit salad, and pure maple syrup. The Pancake House is open every Saturday and Sunday starting the last weekend of February and the full month of March.
Syrup making has been a family tradition that started by our Grandfather in the mid 1940’s. McLachlan Brothers Nelson, Colin, and Lawrence revived the family tradition of making syrup about 1980 by tapping a small number of roadside trees. By 1990 the small operation had turned into a commercial operation. In 1992, a name change from McLachlan Brothers to Fort Rose Maple Company accompanied by a new Sugar House and Pancake House to better serve our growing business.
Prior to 1992, the pancake portion of the business was run out of the rec room of the house. We started out serving pancakes to family and friends, which went over quite well. With a little advertising and word of mouth, the pancake house business out grew the rec room to include the garage. In 1995 a new 32’x52′ building was constructed to allow for a 65 seat pancake house and sugar house. A few years later, in 2001 an addition was added to allow for more seating and a store area for selling the maple syrup and maple products.
The maple syrup operation started out tapping road side trees and boiling on a barrel stove with three flat pans. With the move to tapping woodlots a 40″x12′ small brothers evaporator was purchased and the 12’x16′ sugar house was lengthened to 12’x 26′, increased boiling capacity meant more sap was needed. Soon the taps had been increased to 2400 buckets running out of five woodlots. The sap was gathered and hauled out of the bushes with a three-wheeler and a four-wheeler. Due to large volumes of sap the 40″x12′ evaporator and 2’x4′ propane finisher was too small. In 1995 a 5’x14′ Darveau fulflow evaporator was purchased along with the building of the new Sugar House and Pancake House. Pipe line was first used in one of the wetter bushes using a zero tank and a dairy vacuum pump. With pipe line, came expansion to other woodlots with more taps meant the need for a RO. A 600 gallon/ hour full flow Darveau was purchased. The 2’x4′ propane finisher was also replaced with a 21/2’x6′ oil fired evaporator.
Over the years we have expanded to over 11,000 taps on pipeline in seven different bushes. All the taps on pipe line are health spiles and 5/16″ spiles on the pails. Each bush has its own vacuum, set up with a dairy rotary vacuum pump and manual sap extractor, dumping into open top tanks. Depending on the size of the bush, sap is transferred to large holding tanks. One bush sucks up the full length of the farm with 11/4″ buried underground. Another farm the sap is pulled up the length of the farm through 11/2″ line, which was switched to wet dry using 11/2″ dry line and 11/4″ wet line. This increased vacuum dramatically at the back of the bush. We usually run 20-25 vacuum. Another bush we use two series of sap ladders to bring the sap up to the tank. About 500 taps go through double 1″ lines to lift the sap about 10′. All the sap is trucked home to the Sugar House to be boiled. Once we get enough sap to start, we boil till caught up.
Currently we use a two membrane CDL RO hooked in series which RO’s about 900 + gallon/hour of sap. The sap is RO to 9 or 10 brix which goes straight to a holding tank which feeds the 5’x14′ forced air, wood fired evaporator. An auto draw off is used to draw off the syrup into a holding tank, then filtered by a 7″ filter plate press. The syrup will either go to the hot water jacket canner or into stainless steel barrels for storage. Samples are taken for each batch lot produced. All containers are batch lots coded and records are kept recording how many containers of each size are filled and what grade they are.
About 80% of our syrup is retail with the other 20% being wholesale.
The success of Fort Rose Maple Company has come about by producing a good product, customer satisfaction, and a three generation family working together.