By: momstown editor Alison Martin
As the winter freeze starts to thaw, the maple sap begins to flow across Canada.
Each spring, Canadian maple trees are tapped for their sap and several sugar shacks invite visitors to experience the process of maple extraction and to sample the sweet maple treats that are produced. The seasonal ritual provides the perfect opportunity for families to enjoy a sweet outing that’s rooted in Canadian tradition.
Here are some of the sugar shacks and maple syrup festivals happening across the country:
BC Forest Discovery Centre
This location hosts the annual Bigleaf Maple Syrup Festival where you can learn how to tap your own maple trees.
Calgary Maple Festival des Sucres
Heritage Park, 1900 Heritage Dr SW, Calgary
Established in 2002, this annual winter events celebrates French-Canadian culture, history and traditions. Play outdoor games or take a hay wagon ride, and don’t forget to try the savoury Maple Taffy on Snow.
March 5 and 6. General admission.
Sugaring Off Festival
432 Joubert St., Saint-Pierre-Jolys, 204-792-6149
This annual festival celebrates the arrival of spring and the production of Manitoba maple syrup. Free.
Crinklaw Maple Products
4570 Westminster Dr., London, 519-457-4550
Enjoy tours of the sugar house, see demonstrations on maple syrup production and sample the maple syrup and treats.
Open March 5 to April 9. Free admission.
2442 Wolfgrove Rd., Almonte, 613-256-5216
Taffy. Syrup. Fudge. Candy. Don’t forget to sample all four at this family-owned operation. Listen to the tales of maple syrup history recounted by The Kettle Boys or wander the trails by foot, snowshoes or skis. Then, sit by the fire and enjoy your own picnic lunch.
Open daily during the sugaring-off season (approximately mid-March to mid-April). Free admission.
Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush
399 Sugar Bush Rd., Pakenham, 613-256-3867
Fulton’s is one of Lanark County’s well-known sugar camps locate between Almonte and Pakenham. The facility features walking and Nordic hiking trails, a Maple Shoppe and the traditional spring maple syrup season. Take a guided tour through the sugar bush with signs along the way marking historical sites. Be sure to sample the fresh maple taffy and enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride. There’s also an outdoor playground for kids.
Open weekends mid-February to mid-April. Call ahead for more springtime activities, including an Easter egg hunt.
Gilbertson’s Maple Products
RR #1, 3090 Huron Line, Richard’s Landing, 705-246-2066
This operation has been producing maple syrup for four generations. Walk through the trails, learn about the modern day sap harvesting techniques, and enjoy a free wagon ride (available most Saturdays). Before you leave, dig in to a plate of fresh pancakes and their famous maple-baked beans.
Open Monday to Saturday from March 7 to April 23. Free admission.
Horton Tree Farms Maple Syrup Festival
5924 Slaters Road, Stouffville, 905-888-1738
Take a self-guided tour or enjoy a wagon ride through the sugar bush. The on-site museum showcases some of the traditional methods of sap collection. Enjoy a pancake breakfast in the log cabin, sample sap and maple syrup,
Open weekends from March 12 to April 10. General admission.
Long Farms of Laurier
42 Lindsay Hill Rd., Trout Creek, 705-723-5664
Hike through the grounds and learn about syrup production. Tap your own tree on a guided tour (additional fee applies) and learn how sap is collected and boiled. All tours end with a sample of maple syrup on snow.
Open daily from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. from mid-March to late April. Free.
Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival
100 Whiting Ave., Oshawa, 905- 579-0411
Enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides, hot pancakes and a history of maple syrup production at the 40th edition of this annual maple syrup festive.
Open March 12 to 20, 27, 28 and April 2 and 3. General Admission.
Sandy Flat Sugar Bush and Pancake House
Concession Road 3 W, Trent Hills705-924-2057
This well-known sugar bush opens its doors to visitors every spring for tours and tastings, but the real fun takes place during the annual Warkworth Maple Syrup Festival. Activities include horse-drawn sleigh rides, nature trails and competitions like log- sawing and snowshoeing. Enjoy a plate of pancakes and sausages while listening to live music. There are designated parking areas downtown and free shuttles to Sandy Flat.
Open March 12 and 13, 2016. General admission.
Shaw Maple Products and Pancake House
493 Oro-Medonte Line 14 South, RR #1, Orillia. 705-325-4347
Fuel up with tasty treats from the Pancake House before venturing through the bush. On weekends, take a horse-drawn wagon ride through the trails. Wagon rides and sap evaporation are weather dependent.
Open daily from February 9 to April 19. Free.
Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm
2452 Yorks Corners Rd., Edwards. 613-821-2751
This Ottawa-area sugar bush has been producing maple syrup since the 1800s and lures in the masses with its all-you-can-eat pancakes, French toast and waffles. Features include the sugar shack, petting farm, children’s play area, and education centre. The farm also hosts an annual Easter egg hunt (registration is required)
Open February 27 to April 10. Free.Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival
Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival
Tap into spring and the sweetness it brings at Bruce’s Mill (Stouffville), Island Lake (Orangeville), Kortright (Vaughan) and Terra Cotta (Halton Hills) conservation centres. Enjoy maple syrup demonstrations, wagon rides and of course some maple syrup.
Open March 5 to April 3. Buy tickets online.
White Meadows Farms
2519 Effingham St., Pelham. 905-682-0642
Climb aboard the Sugar Shuttle or walk in a sugar-makers’ footsteps on this historic tour of the maple syrup industry. Try wood-cutting like a pioneer and of course sample some Taffy-on-Snow.
Open weekends March 5 to April 3. General admission.
1001 Highland Line, Lanark Highlands 613-278-2090
Enjoy a pancake meal before heading out into the bush where you can walk, run or snowshoe (rentals available). Trails include a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk that takes visitors into the sugar bush. There’s also a playground with a zip line. Be sure to stop at Wheelers Maple Heritage Museum (admission by donation).
Open daily year-round from 9am to 3pm. Free.
Cabane à Sucre Paquette
419 5th Ave., Sainte-Anne des Plaines. 450-478-1074
Explore this sugar bush on foot or take a more leisurely route with a sleigh ride. Visit the animals in the petting barn and be sure to indulge in a traditional pancake meal before learning the history of maple syrup at the museum.
Open February 27 to April 23. Admission is free.
Au Pain De Sucre
1145 ch. Petit Bernier, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. 450-346-3442
Sleigh rides and sugar bush what more could you want? Learn about sap collection, taste taffy, visit the farm animals and navigate the foot trails. Weekend activities include treasure hunts, pony rides and face painting.
Open daily from February 27 to April 24.
136 ch. du Sous-Bois, Mont Saint-Grégoire. 450-460-2131
This family-owned farm is one of Quebec’s most popular sugar bushes. Features include an indoor bouncy castle and outdoor playground. Visit the resident llama, sheep, ducks and goats before ending your visit with a pancake meal in one of the five dining rooms.
Open February 27 to April 24. General admission.
L’érablière Raymond Meunier & Fils
325, row 54, Richelieu. 450-347-0757
This southern-Quebec farm has been serving up fun and traditional Quebecoise treats since 1920. Enjoy outdoor activities like playing on the outdoor jungle gym, visiting the farm animals or free horse-drawn sleigh rides. Be sure to visit the dining area for some breakfast favourites.
Opens February 27. General admission.
Sucrerie De La Montagne
300 ch. Saint- Georges, Rigaud. 450-451-0831
Surrounded by 120 acres of sap-producing maples, this Mont Rigaud destination exhibits the Quebec folkloric tradition in its sugaring-off experience. Enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride, sample taffy on snow and feast on all-you-can-eat Quebecois fare like pea soup, maple-smoked ham, meat pie, sugar pie and pancakes.
Open February 15 to May 8. General admission (varies by date and time).
Cabane à sucre LeClerc
1289 2e Rang Ouest, Neuville 418-876-2812
Enjoy maple sugar time. Visitors can enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides or all-you-can-eat meal. Maple products made on the premises sold here year-round.
Open March 1 to May 1.
Érablière du Lac-Beauport
200, chemin des Lacs, Lac-Beauport 418-849-0066
Live Québécois folk music and hearty traditional sugar shack meals await at this sugar shack. Enjoy guided tours of the maple museum. Reservations are required to visit Le Trappeur, the Québec wildlife interpretation centre.
Érablière le Chemin du Roy
237, chemin du Lac Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures 418-878-5085
Enjoy a traditional experience near Québec city. Learn how we make maple syrup and other maple products during your visit.
Open year round.
223 Grand Cap-Sa, Pont-Rouge 418-873-2164
Located 23 km from downtown Québec, this sugar camp operation offers all-you-can-eat sugar candy and traditional menu. Hike the trails and or take a sleigh ride through the grounds.
Open year round.
4312, chemin Royal, Saint-Jean-de-l’Île-d ‘Orléans 418-829-2587
This sugar shack on the bank of the St. Lawrence River offers snow-cooled taffy at any time of the year and traditional meals. Learn how maple products are made.
Reservations always required.
65 Ganong Rd., Erbs Cove 506-832-4421
Take a tour of the sugar bush and boiling room, and sample maple toffee on the snow. After your tour, visit the lodge for some homemade pancakes. Gluten-free pancakes are available. Call ahead to book your tour and meal.
Open mid-March to mid-April. Cash-only.
7520 Route 102, Dumfries. 506-575-8277
This 1,900-tap location is popular with visitors eager to buy maple goods, to learn how syrup is made and to sample taffy. Enjoy a pancake breakfast in the log cookhouse or treat yourself to maple cotton candy. Better yet, strap on your snowshoes and hike the trails along the Saint John River Valley.
Open March and April. Free. (Cash-only for purchases).
Sugar Moon Farm
221 Alex MacDonald Rd., Earltown. 902-657-3348
Enjoy a free tour of the 2,500 taps at this sugar bush and learn about the process at the maple interpretive area. Sample sweets and maple-infused treats, and hike or snowshoe the trails. Snowshoe rentals are available on-site.
Open weekends year-round. Call ahead to reserve. Free admission (additional cost for food).
Wonders of Maple Syrup at Ross Farm
4568 Highway 12, New Ross 902-689-2210
Learn how syrup was made by pioneers at this heritage site and sample maple syrup and pancakes in Rosebank Cottage.
Open March 19 and 20. General admission.
Prince Edward Island
Woodland’s Maple Syrup at MacPhee’s Orchard
5151 Launching Rd., Cardigan. 902-583-3203
Learn about life in the sugar bush at this joint operation between two neighbouring farms. It is recommended to make an appointment as “sugaring” is weather dependent.
mid-March to late April (weather permitting). Free.
*Note: Dates vary by locations. Please check individual location for details and updated schedules.
Have we missed any maple syrup events in your area? Let us know.