We always enjoy Maple Weekend. Organized by the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association, the weekend promotes the exceptional quality of Ontario Maple Syrup. Syrup producers across the province always make a great show for guests and, this year, the first weekend in April did not disappoint.
For us, this year’s Maple Weekend reminds us of the many reasons we have to celebrate! This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our family’s role in creating the North American Maple Syrup Council. We are also celebrating our predecessors’ vision for the comprehensive maple syrup operation we have now. Because of the investment made by past generations, Shaws stands with a very small number of syrup producers who can regularly provide guests with a fully maple experience including a pancake house, a marked walking trail in the bush, horse-drawn carriage rides and accessible views where guests can see maple syrup being made.
Given our celebratory mood, it was particularly rewarding for us to read Tyler Evans’ recent report in Orillia Matters calling Shaws “the standard bearer” in an industry as Canadian as hockey. In his article, Tyler reported on the enduring nature of our maple syrup business and he touched on Tom’s vision for the future as Tom and Terri-Lynn continue their efforts at strengthening the Shaws legacy, especially on Maple Weekend.
If you are a regular guest, you know Shaws has a LONG history of syrup-making in Oro-Medonte. As Tyler reports, the many contributions made by Ron and Ruthanne Shaw in shaping the maple syrup industry during the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s helped make Shaws a time-tested tradition. In 1966, Ron helped create the OMSPA; an organization that would set standards and increase awareness of Ontario maple syrup. Not much later, Ruthanne saw the potential in a home-style restaurant that would give families both an opportunity to warm up after spending time in the sugar bush as well as a chance to enjoy the glorious taste of freshly made maple syrup. Ron and Ruthanne, together with Myrtle and Norman of the generation before them, worked to create an environment where guests could learn about maple syrup while enjoying time together.
Having been immersed in the family operation his entire life, Tom understands the philosophy passed down with the business. It’s something he shares with his wife Terri-Lynn. Terri-Lynn joined Shaws as one of the 25-30 seasonal employees when she was in her teens and has spent decades fine-tuning what Shaws offers their guests. Together, they have continued to adapt and grow the business while delivering a consistent, quality product to the local community.
As they look to the future, Terri-Lynn and Tom are eager to strengthen the Shaws legacy. In particular, they would like to build a new, updated and more accessible facility on the property. As Tom tells Tyler, “We want a facility that would do a better job at educating people and showcasing maple syrup”. Tom has such deep respect for maple and the trees that produce it, he would like a facility where more people can enjoy the experience without having a negative impact on the land or the experience of others. They would also like to be able to accommodate groups of children and seniors so they too can enjoy a complete maple experience.
No doubt, whatever future Terri-Lynn and Tom envision for the sugar camp, they will hold tight to the traditional feel of Shaws. As Tyler writes “It’s a rustic, old-time family breakfast. It’s as close as you are going to get to eating at your grandparents.” Like many generations before them, Terri-Lynn and Tom are embracing their history and building for the future.