Wheelers Maple Heritage Museum
Guinness World Record Holder: Largest Collection of Maple Syrup Artifacts
In the year 2000, Vernon built Wheelers Maple Heritage Museum to house his collection of antique maple related items. There are extensive displays ranging from the First Nations discovery of maple syrup to Settlers modernizing methods. The wall logs are recycled from century old hay barns and all the lumber was cut and sawed on the property. Vernon did the dovetail log work himself and the rest of the family helped out with other aspects of construction.
Wheelers Forest & Farm Museum
Home of over 600 vintage chainsaws & unique farming tools
Vernon Wheeler grew up in the forests of Lanark County. The Maple syrup season only lasts for a couple of months in the Spring so he has always spent the rest of the year either logging, farming, or building log homes. Whatever Vernon is up to, there is usually a chainsaw nearby. From the early days of skidding with a team of horses at the home place, to our current management and thinning of the sugar bush with the Log Skidder, Vernon enjoys the wholesome living of working in the bush.
Out of his lifelong affection for working in the forest and using chainsaws, Vernon has developed a passion for collecting unique and interesting saws. He marvels at the ingenuity of previous generations and strives to build this collection to pay homage to those that got us to where we are today. He has amassed over 600 antique chainsaws along with many other interesting logging related items. Some chainsaws came from right here in Lanark County and Eastern Ontario but Vernon has also found saws from all over the World collecting many on trips to the New England States, Quebec, and as far away as British Columbia and Alaska.
National Historic Plaque
Maple is an essential part of our past, present, and future and the Government of Canada has taken note of that. In 2009 the Historical Sites and Monuments Board of Canada designated Maple Syrup as a Culturally Significant Historical Event in Canada. Wheelers Maple Heritage Museum is home to one of three bronze plaques in Canada, recognizing this designation. The others are in Plessisville and Saint-Hilaire, Quebec.
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.
It was the First Nations who discovered Maple Syrup many years ago. We are confident that the First Nations were the first people to make maple syrup on the land Wheelers now call home. To pay homage to the First Nations for their discovery of maple syrup we erected this Authentic teepee.
A teepee is a tall, cone-shaped tent that is made by stretching buffalo skin (or other materials) over a skeleton of wooden poles, all slanted towards a central point and tied together near the top. A flap at the top allows smoke to escape, and a flap at the bottom served as a doorway.
Our teepee is open for visitors to enter and explore, so come on in! In the winter, the teepee offers shelter from the wind and cold.
Once you’ve filled up on pancakes and tried out our delicious Wheelers Maple Syrup, take a stroll over to our barn, where you can view the sheep and alpacas.