He’s a young man, only in his thirties, but Yan Gaudet has known maple syrup since early childhood in the Témiscamingue region. Growing up in the municipality of Duhamel-Ouest (population 880) near the Ontario border, his grandfather and uncle both had little sugar shacks fed by about 500 taps and his father Luc has been a maple producer since 1998. As they say about many rural Québecers, the syrup runs in his veins. His own career path saw him start out as an employee for the provincial government’s department of Forestry, Wildlife and Parks, the lure of maple was strong. In 2007, he applied for a QMSP production quota, the first since the program was established in 2003. He didn’t get it but the next year, he did and 10,000 taps became his to manage on public land. Ambitious and sociable, Yan also took up work as a rep for a maple equipment manufacturer. In 2016, Yan and his dad joined forces and the combined family operation numbered 29,000 taps in public forest.
2018 was not a great year for most maple producers but Yan will always remember it fondly: his son was born at the end of February: “Lucky for me the sugaring season was late. My wife was able to spend the whole spring at the cabin with me.” The adventure was not always easy as the sugar bush is 140 km from the family home and 30 km of that is bush road. In summertime, the young family partakes in another passion: fishing. “This is a huge lake area and my wife and I love to fish. If you want to go fishing, just look around, there’s lots of places to go here!”
If you talk to Yan, you soon realize he doesn’t see his commitment to the maple movement as anything special or extraordinary. There’s “always something to improve and if you sit back, you’ll fall back.” He’s been on the Board of Directions for the Outaouais-Laurentides region since 2010 and doesn’t count the hours and miles he’s put in on the road going to meetings. He wants to see the industry evolve and make sure his region has a voice in the ways it does. He’s proud of where he comes from and believes in the strength of community. Yan urges all maple producers to stand up and speak out:
“There’s nothing to be afraid of. Come and talk with us.”