Canada produces three-quarters of the world’s maple syrup (take that, Vermont!), so it’s not surprising that we take all things maple very seriously. Maple syrup season occurs between February and April—we always look forward to early spring when the sap starts running and the steam starts rising from sugar shacks. In the spirit of happy anticipation, here are some sugar shacks in Ontario and Quebec for you to discover this spring. (Keep in mind that COVID-19 restrictions may change hours or the availability of activities, so it’s best to check ahead before heading to your local sugar bush.)
Sugar shacks in Ontario
Fulton’s Maple Syrup, Pakenham, Ont.
Less than an hour outside of Ottawa, Fulton’s 400-acre sugar bush offers eight kilometres of trails to walk, snowshoe, or ski. Plus, there’s a shop that carries maple syrup, maple sugar, and personal care items made with maple. In past years, Fulton’s has offered sleigh rides and campfire experiences—check their website to see what will be available for the 2022 maple season.
Stanley’s Olde Maple Farm, Ottawa, Ont.
Stanley’s makes its syrup the old-fashioned way: in a log cabin with a wood-fired evaporator. During maple season, their taffy shack creates traditional maple taffy, made from sweet syrup poured on clean, icy snow. Check out their animal barn and two kilometres of walking trails or, for the ultimate sugar bush outing: book a “slagon” (that’s a sleigh and wagon combo) experience for the whole family, complete with a ride, campfire, and hot chocolate.
Wheeler’s Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Museums, McDonald’s Corners, Lanark Highlands, Ont.
Wheeler’s land has been used to make maple syrup since the 1820s, so it’s no surprise that they’re devoted to all things maple—in fact, they even have a national historic plaque that explains the significance of maple syrup to Canada. To find out even more, check out Wheeler’s maple syrup museum, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of maple syrup artifacts in the world. Need to work off some of that maple indulgence? Check out their trails—perfect for walking, skiing, or snowshoeing.
Richardson’s Farm and Market, Dunnville, Ont.
Richardson’s offers a couple of ways to see their sugarbush and sample maple deliciousness. Self-guided sugarbush tours will take you along a groomed trail featuring interpretive boards that explain the history and craft of making maple syrup. Then you can visit the sugar shanty to see the sap in action. If you’re looking for a little more, book a family experience, where you can learn the whole process of making syrup from tapping to collecting to evaporating, then enjoy a delicious brunch.
Mountsberg Conservation Area, Halton, Ont.
The Sugarbush at Mountsberg has been producing maple syrup for over 150 years, tapping more than 300 maple trees and transforming the liquid gold into syrup in their sugar shanty. During Mountsberg’s sugarbush season, you can explore maple trivia in the maple maze, learn how the area’s Indigenous peoples shared their techniques for making maple syrup with settlers, and take a break around outdoor campfires. Kids can work off their sugar high at Mountsberg’s natural playground.
White Meadows Farms, St. Catharines, Ont.
White Meadow Farms, located in St. Catharines, offers a guided tour of their sugarbush and the opportunity to explore on your own. Sample some maple taffy, then try your hand at pioneer woodcutting. Visit their petting farm, then take a peek in their shop for some tasty treats to take home. Details are forthcoming about their 2022 season.
Maple Weekend, Ontario-wide
Maple Weekend, run by the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers, is a weekend-long cross-province festival of all things maple syrup. Running April 2-3, 2022, the weekend is a great way to explore local maple producers and (if you’re lucky) get a tasty free sample. Check out the interactive map on the Maple Weekend website to find a producer in your area.
Sugar shacks in Quebec
Sucrerie de la montagne, Rigaud, Que.
Quebec produces about 90 per cent of all Canadian maple syrup, so it’s no surprise that it’s a big deal across the province. An hour outside of Montreal, Sucrerie de la montagne is a Quebec heritage site that celebrates all things related to maple syrup production in the province. Activities include a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh, maple taffy tasting, and a look into the maple syrup production process.
L’Érablière du Lac Beauport, Lac Beauport, Que.
L’Érablière du Lac Beauport has been producing maple syrup in the Laurentian mountains for 150 years, and their cabane à sucre is steeped in tradition and history. Just 20 minutes north of Quebec City, this sugar shack includes a maple museum and a trapper’s camp with information about Quebec wildlife. There’s also traditional sugar bush music and dancing when COVID restrictions allow.