"Some say we're crazy to pay
taxes on land we don't own, but
we feel we're protecting it for
generations to come."
The History of Greenmantle Farm
and Esson Creek Maple
Mark and Sandra's wedding, 1967
Mark and Sandra Bramham met in high school and fell in love at 16.
Sandra's mother, May, had a love of nature passed down from her father, who was a professional gardener and avid naturalist. For years, May, inspired Mark and Sandra, to love and appreciate the land.
Later, teaching took Mark and Sandra to Sault Ste Marie where they were happy to be surrounded by nature, and camped and hiked every chance they could. So 2 years after they were married, when they returned to southern Ontario, Mark and Sandra dreamed of owning a piece of wilderness.
A chance discussion with a teacher at Uxbridge High School, led them to discover Greenmantle.
They bought the land in Haliburton County in 1971 and came as often as they could, camping, hiking, and exploring.
They had no idea about the rare
mineral deposits or geological importance of the forest, they just wanted to be here as much as possible.
Sandra carrying Melissa, 1973
Camping at Greenmantle,
while building the house.
Mark, Sandra, and friends.
Sandra's mother, May is centre.
And then one day, Sandra's mother, May, was out walking and found an incredible outcropping formation. They didn't know what it was - but it seemed impressive. So they called in some experts - who said "this is amazing - so rare, so special." And the statement that stood out?
"Don't ever let anyone in here
with a hammer."
After exploring and studying, it turned out that not only was this land untouched since the last ice age, it was a place with some very special geological features.
Some unique geological events over the past billion years, created a calcite dome that allowed for extraordinary crystal growth.
Crystals had a chance to grow here to sizes not commonly found. Most were on their property but some were on the adjacent Crown Land.
What to do?
The very rare fluororichterite
in a calcite river.
Son Josh, at work and play.
So while they built the house and raised their family, Mark and Sandra took on another project. Fighting to protect this unique mineral deposit.
Thousands of dollars and years of mining assessments with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests, led to success.
The success? The success was that Mark and Sandra were able to obtain the mining rights to the Crown Land.
That's right - they fought to pay taxes on land they don't own, so that it will remain undisturbed.
Esson Creek flows through the property.
With minimal and careful trail development, they now run tours so you can come and see this untouched land.
The tours show how the rocks below ground affect the plants and animals that live above.
Tours are now offered year round.
As part of the Yours Outdoors The Haliburton Rocks! experience - it has been designated as an "Ontario Signature Experience" by Destination Ontario.
Mark and Sandra give the first
Greenmantle mineral tour, 2004.
In 2016, they started the maple syrup operation, Esson Creek Maple - a life-long dream.
They now tap over 2,200 Sugar Maples with a process that is both innovative and has less impact on the trees than standard practices.
Steam chimneys for the wood-fired evaporator.
Mark and Sandra, and now with their son, Josh and daughter-in-law, Heather, have one mission.
Protect a unique piece of Canada, that is geologically significant.
Protect it by giving tours to encourage a real understanding of connections in nature.
And produce some of the best-darn tasting maple syrup, from this undisturbed forest.