Turkey Hill maple products: Sutton Junction to the world

By Peter White

Turkey Hill maple products, named after Turkey Hill Road dividing Sutton and Brome Townships, are today known around the world. They are ubiquitous in airport shops and grocery stores, and are Brome County’s most famous product after Brome Lake ducks.

This did not happen by accident. It happened thanks to the vision, initiative and drive of the Herman family, particularly Lloyd Herman.

Lloyd Herman was born in Clinton, Ontario in 1909. His father was an Anglican minister, who immigrated to Canada from Oxford, England in 1878.

In 1939, at the age of 29, Lloyd Herman enlisted in the Canadian army as a private. He rose through the ranks, serving as a lieutenant in the Signal Corps, and was a major in military government after the war ended.

Shortly after being evacuated from Dunkirk, Lloyd Herman met Stephanie Kelleher. Steph had recently fled Geneva, where she had been working at the League of Nations, barely escaping the Germans and making it home to England. She worked for General Charles de Gaulle and the Free French during the war, and was recruited very early when the United Nations was formed in October 1945 – the seventh person hired. She was very active in founding the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), where she worked until her retirement in 1970.

While still in military government in Germany, whenever he had leave, Lloyd would visit Stephanie in London. As a way to spend more time with her, he would volunteer to help out in the fledgling United Nations organization. One day a senior official said to him, “Lloyd, you seem to being doing a lot of work around here. Perhaps we should start paying you?” They hired him full time.

Lloyd Herman and Stephanie Kelleher married in 1945 and moved to New York, where Lloyd was a major influence in building the temporary UN structure in Flushing Meadows. Brian Herman has a remarkable letter written on October 23, 1946 to UN Secretary General Trygve Lie by the famous New York transportation and parks czar Robert Moses, praising Lloyd Herman’s essential contribution to that project – see illustration.

Lloyd Herman worked at the UN for 25 years in a variety of jobs, including a nine-month stint in the Sinai and Gaza Strip with the first UN Emergency Force of peacekeepers in 1956-57 after the Suez Crisis.

Lloyd Herman wanted to move back to rural Canada upon retirement. Due to friendships that his sons Michael and Brian Herman had formed at school with a couple of Knowlton boys (Chris Nation and Nick Rankin), Michael suggested that the family come to the Townships, where they skied on Sutton Mountain in the spring of 1968. That summer they returned for a few days, staying at the Lakeview Hotel in Knowlton. With the help of Knowlton real estate agent Hank Rotherham, Lloyd Herman found a two-hundred-acre property on Turkey Hill. The Herman family moved lock, stock and barrel from Long Island on July 1, 1970. Two days later the two boys found themselves in the sugarbush at 7 a.m. cutting firewood.

Starting over at the age of 60, Lloyd Herman renovated two houses and built a third, which today is Michael Herman’s residence on Turkey Hill.

Lloyd proceeded to revolutionize the maple syrup world by introducing pipeline collection technology to Quebec with his company Brome Maple Products, based in Sutton Junction.
Lloyd then started marketing maple syrup as a symbol of Canada in the tourist industry, and soon formed Turkey Hill Sugarbush Ltd. He convinced his two sons to join him, and they made their lives in the area ever since, with fascinating careers and a rich life. Michael Herman, the oldest boy, was a major part of Brome Maple Products from 1973 on. Brian Herman joined in 1976, as secretary-treasurer of the newly-formed Turkey Hill Sugarbush.

Lloyd and Stephanie Herman died in 1991 and 1993, and are buried in the Knowlton Cemetery.

In 2018 the Herman family sold 85% of Turkey Hill Sugarbush Ltd. to Belweather Capital Partners, based in Toronto. Turkey Hill Sugarbush recently moved from its former factory in Waterloo to a new upgraded facility in Granby, and is now run by Tom Zaffis, a resident of Foster.

Brian Herman remembers Lloyd Herman as handsome, athletic, confident, humorous, hard working, and kind. He was a marksman and a boxer, and not one to be crossed. He was a rebel who did not suffer fools, especially those fools in authority. Most of all Lloyd Herman had an uncanny ability to envision
a world that did not yet exist, and then a will to make that vision become reality.

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