Parsons Centennial Farm History
The Parsons family has hugged the shores of Harwood Lake for over a century. The farm's current location, established in 1898, stands just about a mile from where John Parsons first set the family homestead all those years ago. By 1910, John's son George was co-owner of both a sawmill and a thrashing company, serving the farming community of Charlevoix and Antrim Counties with milling services, a grain thrasher, bean thrasher, silo filler and water wagon.
While George was certainly an entrepreneur, he was also a visionary. One day he tapped the sturdy old maple tree that stood in the middle of a field west of the family farmhouse, rigged a brass hog kettle to a makeshift boom, and boiled the collected sap over an open fire until it was almost syrup. The process was finished over the bustling wood cook stove in the farmhouse kitchen, and the result, packed into canning jars, was known fondly as "liquid gold."
Time passed, and more trees were tapped. By the late 1930s George's son William was running the farm, and while dairy was his business, syruping became the Parsons family passion.
William and Bertha Parsons had four boys, and when their son Dave took over the farm, he continued the family tradition. Each Spring, as the temperature rose to just above freezing, the tapped trees along the banks of Harwood Lake gave up their crystal clear sap, and the evaporating began. Dave and his family practically lived in the sap house, enjoying meals and the company of friends, making instant syrup sundaes and coating the snow outside the little sap house with syrup for an extra special treat. An open fire, boiling sap, and the aroma of history – that's what pure memories are made of.
The Parsons family tradition continues today with Harwood Heritage Gold Maple Syrup Products. You can find us on Parsons Road in Charlevoix; our process has been streamlined, and we've moved into a larger sap house, but you can still see the steam rising from another season in the sugar bush.
Go to our Process section to learn more about our maple syrup making history »