Saturday, July 13, 2024

Seasonal activities, businesses adjust to unusually warm weather

by Guillaume Laflamme
Mar. 13, 2024
The clocks rolled forward an hour on Saturday night, marking the unofficial end to the winter, but spring weather sprung forward weeks earlier this year than is typical to the region, forcing seasonal business owners and local attractions to adapt.
In late February, maple syrup producers in the region began to realize that prime maple syrup conditions might be arriving earlier than they expected.
“The season came and absolutely caught us off guard. It’s just been so early this year,” said Colin LeBrun, who works at his families’ Bryson Lake Lodge outfitter business and runs their sugarbush in Mansfield.
He said the warmer temperatures have caused the trees, which need nighttime temperatures below freezing and daytime temperatures above freezing for the sap to flow, to act erratically.
“I feel like the trees don’t even know what season it is anymore.”
Hélène Alary, who owns the Sucrerie Alary in Luskville which opened Mar. 9, said this the . . .

second time in 47 years she has seen such an early spring.
While she is used to each maple syrup season bringing its own set of challenges, she worries the relatively quick transition out of winter weather will cause customers to move straight into preparations for summer, leaving behind the shoulder season altogether.
“Yesterday I was passing by and people were already cleaning their properties and arranging their spring flowers. I’m telling myself that these people are [ . . . ] heading towards the summer,” she said.
“I’m more worried about that than knowing if the harvest is going to be good or not.”
Wildfire concerns
LeBrun’s father Denis owns the Bryson Lake Lodge outfitter, which is about an hour and a half into the bush north of Fort Coulonge.
He too is worried about the warm weather, and is concerned about the impacts it will have on the environment into the summer months.
“Global warming is definitely doing something like this for sure. I’m more worried about fires, because last year [ . . . ] all of our camps or the roads were all closed for almost two weeks where we are,” Denis LeBrun said, adding that this caused him to lose a lot of business.
In June 2023, two large wildfires burned in the MRC Pontiac. One was near kilometre 114 of Bois-Franc Road, and another in the eastern corner of the MRC, just south of the ZEC Pontiac.
Canada’s 2023 wildfire season was the most destructive season ever recorded, with more than 16.5 million hectares of land destroyed by more than more than 6,000 fires, 29 of which were classified as mega-fires, each burning more than 100,000 hectares.
“If we’re starting off this time of year like this, there’s going to be no snow in the woods. It’s going to be very dangerous for fires, I think, in the spring,” LeBrun said.
Stephane Caron, spokesperson for Quebec’s wildfire management agency SOPFEU, explained the province had a significant lack of snowfall in most regions, resulting in a much thinner snow cover across the province.
“When there is no more snow, we are in a situation where the underbrush is dry. It can dry out very quickly with a little sun, a little air, a little wind, and this can be conducive to the outbreak of forest fires,” Caron said in french in an interview with THE EQUITY.
In response, the agency has begun preparations for the wildfire season four weeks in advance.
Earliest opening for Quyon ferry
For Quyon Ferry owner Ralph McColgan, the mild winter and early spring has meant the earliest start to his operating season on record.
“We were kind of monitoring the thickness of the ice back in February, because it had been such a mild-weather winter, so we knew it was going to be early. We just didn’t think it would be this early,” McColgan said.
“So we had a pretty good rush going in the last couple weeks to make sure we were open as soon as we could.”
McColgan said this year’s first ferry crossing, which took place Mar. 7 was about two and a half weeks earlier than it usually is. Prior to this year, the earliest crossing had been Mar. 16.
Jason Meranger, who owns and runs the Casse-Croûte du Village chip truck in Quyon said the early spring is a great change of pace from the last few years, and was surprised to see the ferry open as well.
With the ferry now open and early spring weather, Meranger hopes to open the chip truck this Friday, Mar. 15.
“I definitely see this Friday being the one for us. My food is showing up on Wednesday, we’ll be getting the smoker lit up on Thursday and probably open those doors Friday at 11:00 a.m.”
“I’m going to have five extra weeks of business. I mean, that’s almost like winning the lottery.”