Maple sugaring on March 18 at Fort De La Présentation in Ogdensburg
OGDENSBURG — Join living history reenactors at Fort De La Présentation in Ogdensburg to learn about 18th Century maple sugaring on March 18 from noon-3 p.m.
Refined white cane sugar, so commonplace today, was the height of luxury in the 18th century.Harvested and processed overseas in the French Antilles by enslaved people it hit the ports of Montréal and was distributed by way of the St. Lawrence River throughout the holdings of New France, to be bought and served on only the most elite of tables.
Indeed, sugar did not factor highly into the average French-Canadian diet as sugar consumption in New France was less than 2 pounds per person per year.
Compare that to the nearly 152 pounds of sugar the average American consumes annually.
When Europeans made first contact with the indigenous people of North America in the 17th century, they discovered that sugar was common in their diet.
Native people all over the Northeast territory had been boiling and freezing maple sap to refine it into syrup and sugar since time immemorial.
Sugar was an important part of gift giving ceremonies which strengthened political and economic ties between many indigenous nations and provided quick energy for warriors and travelers making their way through the waterways of the St. Lawrence River Valley.
In the early spring many of the 3,000 Iroquois people living in and around Fort de la Presentation would have been employed in boiling pure maple sap into the sugar that they would use for the rest of the year.
French-Canadians soon learned how to make maple sugar from their native neighbors.
After 1760 when New France became a part of New England maple sugar production remained an integral part of the early spring season and continues today as a vital part of our unique identity in the North Country.
Fort de La Présentation is located on Van Rensselaer Point, 22 Albany Ave.
The demonstration is open to the public.
A rain date of April 1 has been chosen.
Visit www.fort1749.org for more information.