Spencer and Erica Hogan are award-winning entrepreneurs in an industry that’s been in existence for hundreds of years. Long before European settlers came to Canada, maple sap was harvested and enjoyed by Indigenous populations. While the distinctive sweet taste of maple syrup is still a highly sought-after product, Hogan’s Homestead and modern maple syrup producers have come a long way from the old ways of harvesting and offering it to their customers.
The Hogan’s Homestead story is one I wanted to learn more about because I had seen and read about this dynamic couple and their business in the local media and I was aware they were recipients of numerous business awards. “We started tapping maple trees as a hobby that allowed us to spend more family time together and from there, we decided to start a business which has turned into the third-largest maple syrup operation in Algoma,” said Erica. “We’re actually the youngest and largest producer in Canada. We’ve gone from five taps to thirty thousand taps in three years.” In 2019 the Hogan’s were tapping trees off Allens Side Road in Sault Ste. Marie on the property of a family friend. Then the Hogan’s got an opportunity to purchase Superior Maple Syrup near Goulais River, Ontario, where they purchased 334 acres and a 12,000 square foot production facility. Superior Maple Syrup was previously owned by the Henson’s, a family-run operation. Since they purchased the property from the Henson family, the Hogan’s were able to secure access to over eleven thousand acres of sugar bush which will enable them to expand their operations.
With Spencer’s background as an HVAC technician and Erica’s expertise as a pastry chef, their combined skills have helped them a lot in navigating through all of the details required to effectively operate a maple syrup business of this scope and size. The two are self-taught when it comes to the art of turning maple sap into maple products—they learned the process by talking to experienced operators in the area and beyond and by utilizing resources available through the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association of which they are a member.
visit the sugar shack and gift shop
Starting in the 2021 season, Hogan’s Homestead has become a tourism destination by opening up its maple syrup facility near Goulais River, ON to the general public which has included installing a new gift shop right inside the sugar shack. They are also excited to partner with Blaq Bear Eco Tours. Blaq Bear will be conducting guided snowshoe tours of the maple syrup operation and sugar bush starting in March 2021. “Several tours have already been booked”, said Erica. A portion of the fees collected from visitors will go towards the sustainable preservation of the trails. There will be lots of opportunities to see wildlife and their tracks during the tour. The wildlife viewing opportunity coupled with the short picturesque drive north off the highway to the sugar bush and the sugar shack is known to be a popular activity for Sault and area families, looking for a fun day outdoors close to home. To book a tour, contact Blaq Bear Eco Tours directly.
investing in the future
Future plans are in the works to build “mini-sugar shacks” out in the bush so that visitors can experience an “old-fashioned” wood-fired maple syrup production. The Hogan’s are also working on updating their operation with smart technology. “We want to be as efficient as possible to save time and money.” For example, they are installing sensors on their sap lines that will detect leaks. What once would take days or weeks to find leaks in the system, can now be found in mere minutes. This technology will save valuable sap from wasting away.
creative products include carbonated maple water and more
Hogan’s Homestead maple products are diverse and inventive. Not only do they offer different grades of maple syrup both in consumer-sized containers, but they also offer bulk syrup for wholesale and retail. Their innovative custom products include their signature maple syrup available in a variety of sizes and types of containers. They are also offering bourbon, vanilla bean, coffee, decaf coffee and cinnamon-infused maple syrup! Other products are maple candy, maple sugar and cream, as well as maple candles, pancake mix, maple granola, maple dry rub and maple-infused coffee beans roasted by St. Joseph Island Coffee Roasters. There’s also a Hogan’s Homestead cookbook and swag available, along with maple syrup supplies which includes a “Maple Man Beginner Kit” to get the home hobbyist started making their own maple syrup. Carbonated Maple Water is a new product that will be available soon.
Erica also wanted to point out that their online store and their retail outlet on White Oak Drive in the Sault, includes 100 % locally made unique items by area crafters and artisans. “We love to support local entrepreneurs as much as we can.”
You can purchase their products directly both online through their website, or in-person at the head office at 96 White Oak Drive in Sault Ste. Marie or at their gift shop at the Sugar Shack at 1157 Theilman Rd. Goulais River during the season.
Customers can also find a Hogan’s Homestead booth at the Mill Market once per month on Saturdays 9 AM – 2 PM.
Hogan’s Homestead employs five people year-round and eleven seasonally. Their products are shipped worldwide including all over Canada, the U.S. as well as Australia, South Africa, Japan and many more.
Erica and Spencer are quick to point out that their business success is attributed to a lot of encouragement from not only their family and friends but from the community. Every award they've received or been nominated for has given a boost to their confidence as business owners. They are also aware that they could not succeed without the fantastic support of their staff. The couple is very humble when they talk about themselves and their achievements thus far. I can see that their enthusiasm and love for what they do is what drives them and gives them the incentive to find ways to give back to the community.
“We love to go out on our land and find the beauty and peace there, that keeps us grounded.”
For days and hours of operation, please check the website or social media.
Spencer and Erica Hogan
1157 Thielman Rd.
Goulais River, ON – Production facility, Sugarbush and gift shop during the season.
96 White Oak Dr. E.
Sault Ste. Marie, ON – Head office and gift shop. Open year-round. 705 246-7673