Kent Bros Celebrate 100 Years of Syrup

4 generations of Kent family at 100th anniversary celebration.
L-R: Hillary Glawson, Harold Kent, Lynn Kent, Front: Chase Glawson
4 generations of Kent family at 100th anniversary celebration. L-R: Hillary Glawson, Harold Kent, Lynn Kent, Front: Chase Glawson
photo by Pamela Hawdon Photography.

A crowd of over 50 friends, family and neighbours gathered at Maple Ridge Farms, Kentvale at the Kent Bros sugar camp on Saturday to celebrate 100 years of producing maple syrup on St. Joseph Island.

Lynn Kent owner of Kent Bros Maple Syrup Products.
Lynn Kent owner of Kent Bros Maple Syrup Products.
Maple syrup has been produced from the A-Line sugar bush by 4 generations of the Kent family since 1919. During this time, the operation has changed hands within the family and undergone many advances in the collection and boiling of sap.

Harold Kent, now 93 years old, gave an interesting talk at the celebration about the old times and how he learned to work in the sugar bush at a young age with his father and grandfather.

Harold eventually took over the operation, purchasing more land and increasing production. He recalled how a gallon of syrup sold for $1.90 back in 1940 and how they were lucky to get that, since people in the area were very poor following the depression. He remembers a man offering to work for $0.50 a day in the sugar bush, just to have something to survive on.

Sap was boiled on a stove at the farm in the early days, then by burning wood slabs from the Kent Sawmill in the first boiler, switching to oil once the mill was closed down. Harold remembers the inefficiency of that system, “It used to take 4 gallons of oil to make 1 gallon of syrup.” This was before the introduction of Reverse Osmosis, one of the biggest advances in technology over the last 100 years.

Harold Kent- 93 years old with Kent Bros Maple Syrup awards.
Harold Kent- 93 years old with Kent Bros Maple Syrup awards.

One of the biggest honours for Kent Bros was to win the prestigious World Championship for the best maple syrup producer at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in 1982.

Today the Kent Bros operation is run by Harold’s son Lynn Kent, and like generations before him the whole family comes out to help in the sugar bush. His daughters, Hillary and Tricia have put in their time, and now his young grandsons are learning how to tap trees and sell syrup.

The Kent family has done an amazing job recording the history of their sugar bush and the many changes that have taken place over the past 100 years. Old photos and a timeline of syrup operations date back to the old days of collecting sap in buckets with a horse and wagon, then later on using Snow Cruisers, until the first line were installed.

Click on this link Kent Bros Maple Ridge Farm 1919-2019 to see interesting timelines, old pictures, and newspaper clippings put together by Arlene Kent Wilkinson for this special centennial event.

Harold working the old cash register still used for syrup sales at the Kent Bros camp. It came out of Jack Allen's store in Richards Landing which is now the LCBO.
Harold working the old cash register still used for syrup sales at the Kent Bros camp. It came out of Jack Allen's store in Richards Landing which is now the LCBO.