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Syrup storm hits Fenwick

Don Donkin makes sugar-on-the-snow for tourists at the Donkin’s sugar camp in Fenwick. The lack of snow this season meant Donkin wasn’t able to make the treat for tourists after April 1.
Don Donkin makes sugar-on-the-snow for tourists at the Donkin’s sugar camp in Fenwick. The lack of snow this season meant Donkin wasn’t able to make the treat for tourists after April 1. - Dave Mathieson

FENWICK, N.S. – The syrup storm of 2019 was the hardest to hit Fenwick in the past 19 years.

“It was the perfect storm, the perfect season for maple syrup. The best year since 2000,” said Don Donkin, owner/operator of Donkin’s Maple Sugar Woods in Fenwick. “I’ve been at it for 31 years, and this year was one of my best years.”

Donkin taps 6,000 trees, with each of his trees producing about .55 litres of syrup.

“We produced 3,300 litres of syrup this season, so it was a bumper crop.”

The sap started flowing mid-March which was close to one month later than last year.

“We were three weeks ahead of last year and we thought the season might be good, but not this good.”

He said the sap ran mostly during the daytime.

"We didn’t have as many overnight runs but it seemed to run every day, which was great."

The sap stopped running at Donkin’s on April 16.

“I heard a couple of producers had runs a little bit after that, but I think everybody was finished by April 20.”

The lack of snow this winter was also a big help.

“The sugar-makers didn’t sweat too much because of the lack of snow. it was really easy to get around,” said Donkin. “We had a very easy time tapping up and I didn’t break any snowshoes this year. I generally go through a couple pairs of them.”

While the syrup flowed, and so did the tourists.

“We had a great turnout. We had a lot of the regular customers from Amherst, and we had a lot of people from Cap-Pelé, Shediac, Memramcook, Moncton, and quite a few from Halifax.”

They also had a lot of school kids.

“Having three camps here in Fenwick is quite a drawing card, and people are looking for outdoor activities.”

The lack of snow did have one drawback.

“The only bad thing about it is that I wasn’t able to do the candy-on-the-snow as much, which people really enjoy,” said Donkin. “I think it was back on April 1 that we ran out of snow and we had no snow to do that, which was a disappointment for a lot of the tourists.”

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