In the maple industry, Karine Douville has found the perfect way to apply her entrepreneurial spirit and deep values. At the beginning, though, she marvelled at where she landed. “Even though maple syrup is in my roots, I never thought I’d find a career in it.” Karine says she always associated it with manual labour, reserved for men. “When I was younger, I didn’t see too many women in the field so I had a psychological barrier.”
to new Brunswick and back
After growing up on the family sugar bush at Saint-Ubalde, west of Québec City, she studied marketing and business administration at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. Upon graduating, she moved to New Brunswick where she married and started a family. “When our kids came along, I started thinking about what my legacy to them would be and decided I wanted them to have a life in the country. That’s when my inner flame for maple was rekindled,” she recalls. It was time for her to go home.
back to her roots
“When I got back to Saint-Ubalde in 2012, I found there was a maple business up for sale. I jumped at the chance and decided to take up the family tradition.” Karine now owns a maple syrup operation with 30,000 taps. Most production goes to bulk sale, but she also distributes a variety of processed products to consumers in the region.
maple and the Douville family
Karine operates a boiler with her father and brothers, who are also maple producers. “Together we handle our own 80,000 taps as well as boiling sap for other producers in the region.” Karine’s end of the business deals with everything in the forest. “I can count on my employees on the ground and, in 2020, we hired four Guatemalans. They’re with us until September 1st.”
Administrator, entrepreneur, and mother
Karine became the region’s administrator 3 years ago. “When it was suggested to me, I hesitated because I have 3 kids. I had to think about it for a year before I accepted.” Yes, she wanted to be involved but what tipped the scales was her belief in the power of numbers.
“When we share our experience with others, we all get better. By working together, we are stronger, and we go farther, faster. There’ll always be good years and bad, but after all is said and done, everybody wins.”