Al, as a member of the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), came to The Pas, Manitoba in 1976 where he met and married Johanna. Their first son Andy was born in The Pas, and their second son Peter, was born in Brandon. The family moved to several locations throughout Manitoba and in 1989-1991, Al became the first Detachment Commander in Pukatawagan, Manitoba. The family returned to The Pas in 1991 and moved into their cottage located at Rocky Lake, where Al retired from the RCMP as Corporal in 2001 after being in the force for 26 years.
Al has retired from his second career as a law enforcement instructor at the University College of the North (UCN) located in The Pas after teaching for 10 years. In October of 2010, Al became the Mayor of the Town of The Pas. In his spare time he has his own consulting company called Ganaraska Consulting, where he is certified to provide training in Crime Prevention through Environmental Design, Safety audits, Board management, WHIMIS, Boat Pro, Snowmobile and ATV operator, Applied Suicide Intervention skills, and Non Violent Crisis Intervention.
Al‛s responsibility for Rocky Lake Birchworks is to bring materials/supplies to the site prior to production. Test drill trees to see when sap has started to run, drill and tap trees, maintain equipment, collect and transfer sap to facility. Assist at evaporator shack with washing and cleaning all equipment and interior of building, assist in cooking for the team, and assist in any construction when needed.
Johanna while moving around with her husband Al, and being a full time mom, didn’t stop her from seeking employment. She carried out many jobs such as: a janitor, guard (matron) for female prisoners and substitute teaching. She decided to further her education when the family returned to The Pas and received a diploma in a 2-year Business Administration program.
Johanna worked for the Town of The Pas for 20 years and worked her way up to become the first female Treasurer of the Town. During that time she continued her studies by completing a 4-year distant program, a Manitoba Municipal Administration certificate through the University of Manitoba. Since 2010, Johanna has taken on the task of promoting and marketing Rocky Lake Birchworks syrup. In her spare time, she has also started her own consulting company called Coledean Consulting, where she prepares professional business plans, grant writer, provides training in accounting, setting up of financial books, is a federal/provincial evaluator for funded projects and is a consultant for her two sons who own and operate their own businesses. Johanna was 1 of 500 RCMP wives across Canada that received an award called "The Second Man Award" from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for her dedication in supporting her husband in isolated areas. The award was for searching female prisoners, making meals for prisoners, guarding, cleaning cells, documenting and recording of files, assisting victims of crime for no pay. Johanna holds a number of certificates such as: WHIMIS, WH&S, First Aid / CPR, Chemical & Biological Hazard Control, Level 1 Safe Food Handling Certificate.
Johanna‛s responsibilities for Rocky Lake Birchworks is maintaining company records, assist with setting up lines throughout the site, maintaining the production facility by boiling sap into syrup, bottle, cap and label syrup, cleaning all equipment and interior of the building, assist with maintenance of equipment when needed, cook for the team. Developed a HACCP and Work Place and Health program. Marketing of products., which included attending Trade Shows and Farmers Markets. Development of value added products. Working with graphic designer for marketing purposes and all other government agencies as required.
Andy our oldest son, once graduating from high school began working for Tolko industries in The Pas for 4-years, then moved west to work on the oil rigs. He found this was not his calling and moved to Regina, Saskatchewan where he opened his own business.
Andy is a licensed and insured contractor in Construction and a Journeyman Welder. Andy has since sold his business and is now a partner with Titan Stainless Company in Regina, where he fabricates custom made orders for clients from stainless steel, nickel and aluminum.
He holds a number of certified tickets such as; skid steer and excavator operator, management and conflict resolution, CPR / first aid, WHIMIS, WH&S, and fall arrest to name a few. In his spare time, Andy is also enrolled in a program for gunsmith.
While in Regina, Andy reconnected with Erin who was his sandbox sweetheart. Andy and Erin married and soon our family grew to include three grandbabies, Dean, Cole and Emily. Erin is a school teacher for students who have learning disabilities from grades 4 to 8 and in her spare time, Erin has published her first book called "The Healer‟. Erin is now working on her second book.
Andy brings in many skills for the company and is fully responsible for constructing and/or repairing all stainless steel equipment in the evaporator facility, he is the leader in construction when other building are needed for the process of birch syrup.
Peter, our youngest son, on turning 18, decided to go west to work on the oil rigs and was stationed in Red Deer, Alberta. His dream was to manage his own rig or own his own business. Peter had succeeded in his goal, and after 9 years working on a variety of rigs, became manager of his own rig. Peter had decided that he had met his goal and was more interested in starting his own buisness, where he purchased a tackle shop in The Pas, Mantoba, now known as "Petes Pro Tackle‟ which you can find on Facebook by clicking here.
Peter holds a number of certified tickets, such as: management and conflict resolution, Safety measures for mixed, used and stored chemicals and solvents, Air Brakes, First Aid / CPR, WHIMIS, WH&S, Confined Space, Fall Arrest, and transport of Dangerous Goods.
Peter married his high school sweetheart Ashley, who is a grade 5 teacher. Together they are building a life at Rocky Lake with their daughter Rhea and son Nash.
Peter brings in many skills for the company and is responsible for handling of a variety of tools for the repair and maintenance of all equipment, assists in the drilling and tapping of trees, collection and transportation of sap to evaporator facility, washing and cleaning of all equipment and interior of the building, pick up fuel and supplies when needed, cooks, and waters the birch trees.
As a family we bring in a variety of skills and work as a team to make Rocky Lake Birchworks a success.
Making birch syrup truly is a labour of love since it is one of the rarest gourmet food products in the world, and one of the most difficult to produce.