Original Sugar Shack
The early settlers took up homesteading in McDonalds Corners in the early 1820’s. The crown granted a title to this land in 1825. They made maple syrup over an open fire and hanging cauldron. Clarence and Mary Robinson built this sugar shack and started making maple syrup in it in 1936. It was originally located halfway in the laneway, just beyond the corner where there is a big stone close to the road. It had started to fall into disrepair so Vernon moved it to its current location to preserve it for future generations.
The Robinson’s made maple syrup in this sugar shack from around 1,400 trees. To operate a sugar shack this size, you would need one person boiling, 3 people to collect the sap from the buckets, and a team of oxen or horses to pull the sleigh carrying the sap gathering tank. The 3 foot by 10 foot wood fired evaporator that currently sits in the sugar shack is similar to the last evaporator the Robinson’s would have used and could make about 4 liters of syrup per hour on a good day. Sugar camps like this would have earth floors with a wooden platform along the side of the evaporator to keep the workers out of the mud. A sugar shack like this would often have a cedar shingle roof. A roaring fire in the evaporator would sometimes send sparks out of the smoke stack, which could land on the roof, potentially igniting the sugar shack. Many sugar shacks were lost this way.