Mr. Théodore Despatie, born in Saint-André-Avelin in Quebec, began farming in the Township of Hanmer in 1916. He began by felling the trees and clearing the land to transform it into workable farmland. From the very start, he tapped his maples to make syrup and sugar for his family and he built a sugar shanty.
Mr. Despatie chose to plant potato crops as they did very well in Hanmer Township. Over the course of several years, Mr. Despatie worked to cultivate his potatoes. He was the first to plant certified seed potatoes in the Township and having chose the Chippewa variety, worked constantly to improve it. Despatie grew his own improved version of seed potatoes which he called "Despatie Chippewas". From then on, he grew only this variety.
Winning several prizes locally for the quality of his potatoes, Mr. Despatie decided to compete at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. He won numerous prizes over the years and in 1949, he was proclaimed the Potato King of the World for having produced the best selection of seed potatoes in the world. This honour guaranteed the Despatie farm a solid reputation and brought recognition for the quality of the Township's agricultural products.
After Mr. Despatie's death, his sons (themselves winners of several prizes for the quality of the potatoes they grew) took over his farm. One of Despatie's sons, Lucien, continued the work on the family farm while his brother, Roger, grew potatoes on the neighbouring farm.
Over the years, the family continued to tap the maples. In 1947, the Despatie sons built a new sugar shanty. In the1960s, sugaring-off parties (until then reserved for family and friends) became a commercial enterprise. During the maple sugar season, the only sugar bush in Sudbury organizes sugaring-off parties for students during the week and for the general public on Sunday.
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