a maple syrup family from Les appalaches
33 years ago, Marie Brousseau and Yvan Chabot produced their first maple syrup from 3,200 taps: 1,200 were on a tubing system; sap from the remaining 2,000 had to be hauled to the boiler. By the next year, they seized on their potential and tubed the whole sugar bush. By 2020, their production had grown to 57,500 taps, some of which are on public land. Remarkably, through these years, they also produced dairy and beef. Today Érablière les Frérôts, located at Saint-Fabien-de-Panet in the Appalaches region, stands as the realization of a vision. Marie says, “We believed in it! And we loved it. It was tough back then because of the prices. But here it is in 2020 and we’re making a living out of it. And so is our son.”
Marie is proud that she and her husband managed to pass on the love of maple to their two sons. “Étienne works with us and our older son Jérôme wants his own little operation.” Étienne completed maple production training in 2016 and works full-time with his parents.
a happy life
Working in the family unit, in Nature, and with maple syrup, Marie is content and busy in her life. She does the company finances and keeps the home fires burning. Literally: “At 6 in the morning, I turn on the concentrator and start the furnace. We use wood so, every half hour I throw more in to keep it going. My son gets in at about noon.” Marie started full-time at the business in the spring of 2020. “I retired from my office job on March 18, just when the pandemic started. And the sugaring season too.”
information is the key to success
This is the principle that pushed Marie to her involvement in several organizations, including the QMSP Côte-du-Sud regional council. “You have to get in there and share your point of view. But you have to be informed too.” When the region’s administrator stepped down, she overcame her hesitations, and stepped up. She’s given it everything she can since. “We needed somebody to represent us, to represent our reality.” Marie is now on the resource management committee for her region.
“There’s so much to know. To be truly effective, I think you need years of experience if you want to really make a difference. I know I have lots to contribute to the committees but I’m just starting to learn.”
Marie believes in the orderly marketing system that has evolved along with her family business. She wants to see it grow and improve. “Our strength is being together. Come to the meetings and you’ll understand.”