Photo: Maya Visnyei
Maple syrup has long been part of Canada’s cultural fabric. The native population taught early European settlers how to harvest sap and turn it into maple syrup. Today, Canada produces about eighty-five percent of the world’s supply of everyone’s favourite pancake topper. Pretty sweet of us, eh?
Sugaring Off Festival Celebrate the first hint of spring at the Musée de St-Pierre-Jolys during their annual Sugaring Off Festival. The weekend features tours and demos to educate about the maple syrup harvest, as well as traditional food, live music and displays that embrace the area’s French-Canadian history. Check out the historical Goulet House to see how the area’s classic treats are made.
April 8 and April 9. Free.
432 Joubert St., Saint-Pierre-Jolys. 204-433-7002
Get more information: museestpierrejolys.ca
Sandy Flat Sugar Bush and Pancake House 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. Enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride for $2 (free for kids younger than 10), nature trails and games like log sawing contests and snowshoe competitions. Indulge in a plate of hot pancakes and sausages ($7; $3 for children younger than 12) while local bands play live music. Only handicapped parking is available at the Sugar Bush, but there are designated parking areas downtown, with free shuttles to Sandy Flat.
Open March 11 and March 12. General admission, $4; kids 12 years and younger get in free.
500 Concession Road 3 W, Trent Hills. 705-924-2057
Get more information: warkworthmaplesyrupfestival.ca
Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival at the Kortright Centre for Conservation One of the most beautiful stretches of nature sits right here in our own backyard—so where better to host a Maple Syrup Festival than at the Kortright Centre? Enjoy the taste of real maple syrup, wagon rides, pancakes, and other fun March Break activities. Or, if you choose to go for the Maple Syrup by Lamplight (7 pm - 9 pm), you can have a yummy treat beside the campfire. You can even bring your Easter egg basket for a hunt in the forest! The Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival is also held at three other locations, hours vary: Bruce's Mill (Stouffville), Island Lake (Orangeville), and Terra Cotta (Halton Hills).
Open daily from March 4 - April 2. Advanced tickets required (if you buy online, you receive unlimited general admission to all four festival locations). Adults, $9, Seniors & Children (ages five to 14), $6, Children four and under are free (with adult ticket purchase).
9550 Pine Valley Drive, Woodbridge. 905-832-2289
Get more information: maplesyrupfest.com
Shaw's Maple Syrup Bush This farm has been in the Shaw family since 1858 and, though the farm’s technology has changed, their traditions haven’t. Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride (or wagon ride, depending on the weather; $5 per adult; $3 for children younger than 12) around a one-mile loop through the farm’s 6,000-tap sugar bush and see how sap is collected. Afterward, visit the rustic restaurant for fresh pancakes, premium pork sausage, maple-baked beans and more. Be sure to leave room for dessert (maple butter tarts, anyone?).
Open daily from February 18 to April 16. Free.
493 Oro-Medonte Line 14 South, RR #1, Orillia. 705-325-4347
Get more information: shawscatering.com
Stanley's Olde Maple Lane Farm This Ottawa-area sugar bush has been producing maple syrup since the 1800s and is a popular springtime spot for enjoying all-you-can-eat pancakes, French toast, waffles and more ($15.50 to $18; $12.75 for children five to 12; $7.75 for kids two to four; kids younger than two eat free). Take a leisurely horse-drawn sleigh ride ($4.75), visit the sugar shack to see sap-to-syrup production first-hand and munch on Stanley’s Maple Kettle Corn ($2.50 each) and fresh maple taffy on the snow. The farm also hosts an annual Easter egg hunt, but space is limited so register early.
Open February 25 to April 16. Hours vary during March Break. Free.
2452 York's Corners Rd., Edwards. 613-821-2751
Get more information: stanleysfarm.com
Crinklaw Maple Products This family-owned and-operated maple syrup farm has been producing traditional maple syrup for more than 180 years (that’s eight generations). Visitors are welcome throughout syrup season, but the best time to go is during their annual Maple Festival weekend during March break, which serves as a fundraiser for the local Girl Guides chapter. Sample fresh syrup, go for a wagon ride and tour the sugar house. Be sure to stop at the on-site shop for maple products before you leave. (The maple sugar candies are delicious!)
Open February 25 to April 2. Free admission. Additional cost for food. Call ahead before visiting.
4570 Westminster Dr., London. 519-690-1086
Get more information: crinklawmaplesyrup.com
White Meadows Farms All aboard the Sugar Shuttle! The self-guided sugar bush trek begins when you hop off the tractor-drawn covered wagon. Families travel through several stations, each with friendly costumed staff ready to explain the history and production of maple syrup. Other activities include face painting, a giant sap line maze and hot dog roasting. The tour covers a lot of ground, so be sure to eat first—there are plenty of maple-infused breakfast treats to enjoy at the on-site pancake house.
Book a tour between March 4 to April 2. General admission, $8 to $12; children three to six, $4.
2519 Effingham St., St. Catherines. 905-682-0642
Get more information: whitemeadowsfarms.com
Wheelers Maple This Lanark County sugar bush is a popular destination for families looking to embrace the first signs of spring. Check out the large selection of artifacts in the Maple Heritage Museum (admission by donation) and listen as staff members explain what life was like for maple syrup pioneers. Then enjoy a pancake meal before heading out into the bush where you can walk, run or snowshoe (bring your own or rent them on-site—$5 for two hours) along the many trails, including a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk that takes visitors into the sugar bush. There’s also a playground, which includes a slide, a teeter-totter, swings and a zip line.
Open daily year-round from 9am to 3pm. Free.
1001 Highland Line, Lanark Highlands. 613-278-2090
Get more information: wheelersmaple.com
Horton Tree Farms Maple Syrup Festival GTA families can find plenty of early spring fun at this family farm. Enjoy a hearty pancake breakfast in the log cabin, sample sap and syrup, take a self-guided or guided tour, and enjoy a wagon ride through the sugar bush. The on-site museum showcases some of the traditional methods of sap collection.
Open Saturdays and Sundays from March 11 to April 16. General admission, $6 to $7; children five to 12, $5; kids younger than five get in free (cash only).
5924 Slaters Road, Stouffville. 905-888-1738
Get more information: hortontreefarms.com
Fulton's Pancake House and Sugar Bush This farm has been in the Fulton family for more than 160 years, with fourth and fifth generations tapping some of the same trees that have been on the farm since the very beginning. Get your fill of pancakes, sausage and more at the 120-seat restaurant (ask about their gluten-, dairy-and egg-free waffle options) while enjoying live music from local musicians (weekends only). Take a guided tour through the bush with signs along the way marking historical sites; sample fresh maple taffy or maple cotton candy and, on weekends, enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride ($3) and get your face painted. There’s also an outdoor playground for kids.
Open February 18 - April 23. Prices for group tours vary. Call ahead for more springtime activities (every Saturday & Sunday, 10:30 - 2:30), including an Easter egg hunt. Free admission.
399 Sugar Bush Rd., Pakenham. 613-256-3867
Get more information: fultons.ca
Gilbertson's Maple Products Located on scenic St. Joseph Island, this operation prides itself on being the province’s top maple syrup producer. Compare sap harvesting of yesterday to the modern day pipeline, walk through the trails and enjoy a free wagon ride (available most Saturdays). Enjoy a heaping plate of fresh pancakes and their famous maple-baked beans before you leave.
Open Monday to Saturday from March 6 to April 22. Free admission.
RR #1, 3090 Huron Line, Richard’s Landing. 705-246-2066
Get more information: gilbertsonsmaple.com
Long Farms of Laurier A visit to this sugar bush involves plenty of opportunities to hike, learn about syrup production and, of course, sample freshly made syrup. Book a tour ($3 per person) and tap your own tree, see how sap is collected and boiled, and learn how life in the bush has evolved over the years. All tours end with a delicious sample of fresh maple syrup on snow.
Open Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. from mid-March to late April. Free. Additional cost for tour.
42 Lindsay's Hill Rd., Trout Creek. 705-723-5664
Get more information: longfarms.ca
Fortune Farms At Fortune Farms, there are four important words to remember: syrup, fudge, butter and candy. Sample them all at this family-owned operation. Visit Shorty, Tubby, Curly and Slim—the Kettle Boys—and listen to their tales of maple syrup history. Sit by the fire and enjoy your own picnic lunch, and take fun photos with the wooden heritage scene cut-out.
Open daily during the sugaring-off season (approximately early March to mid-April). Free admission.
2442 Wolfgrove Rd., Almonte. 613-256-5216
Get more information: fortunefarms.ca
Cabane à Sucre Paquette Whether you explore this sugar bush on foot, horseback (pony, for younger kids), or take a more leisurely route with a sleigh ride, you’ll learn all about the sap-to-syrup process. Sample taffy on the snow, then visit the many farm animals in the petting barn. Warm up with a traditional pancake meal before diving into the history of maple syrup at the museum.
Open February 25 to April 17. Call ahead to reserve a spot. General admission (includes meal), $17 to $22 (depending on day and time of meal); children four to 12, $10; kids three and younger get in free.
419 5th Ave., Sainte-Anne des Plaines. 450-478-1074
Get more information: cabaneasucre.ca
Au Pain De Sucre Start your afternoon with a sleigh ride through the sugar bush (weekends only, $3; $2 per child ages three to 12), where you can learn about sap collection, taste taffy and take a stroll along the foot trails. Weekend activities include treasure hunts, pony rides and face painting. Be sure to visit the farm animals, too. Refuel in one of the farm’s cozy dining rooms with hash browns, sausage and pancakes, followed by maple-infused desserts ($18 to $21 depending on day and time; seniors, $16 to $20; students, $14; children, $10 to $12; kids four years and younger eat free).
Open daily from March 2 to April 23. Free.
1145 ch. Petit Bernier, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. 450-346-3442
Get more information: erablieredugolf.com
La Goudrelle Let the Gingras family show you why this Montreal-area farm is one of Quebec’s most popular sugar bushes. Kids love the indoor bouncy castles, as well as the new outdoor playground. Enjoy a sleigh ride ($2 per person), go for a walk through the bush and be sure to stop in at the farm to see the resident llama, sheep, ducks and goats. Top off your day with a pancake meal in one of the five dining rooms.
Open February 25 to April 30. General admission, $17 to $20, depending on the day of the week; teens 13 to 15, $10; children four to 12, $8; kids three and younger get in free.
136 ch. du Sous-Bois, Mont Saint-Grégoire. 450-460-2131
Get more information: goudrelle.com
L’érablière Raymond Meunier & Fils Start your day at this southern-Quebec farm with a maple donut, and then get ready for some outdoor fun. Hike the trails, enjoy a free horse-drawn sleigh ride, sample maple taffy and watch as workers boil the sap down to syrup. Kids will love playing on the outdoor jungle gym and visiting the farm animals. Then enjoy a meal of traditional Quebecoise food (think pea soup and fresh bread, along with breakfast favourites).
Sugar season begins February 25 - April 23. Call ahead to confirm if open. General admission, including meal, $19 to $22 (depending on the day of the week); children five to 12, $12; kids three to four, $8; Kids under the age of two are free.
325, row 54, Richelieu. 450-347-0757
Get more information: erablieremeunier.com
La P’tite Cabane D'la Côte Get ready for some old-fashioned fun at this Mirabel maple syrup farm. Take a walk or a sleigh ride through the maple grove, visit the goats and sheep, and then enjoy a plateful of buckwheat pancakes, along with other traditional fare like meat pie, local smoked ham and roast potatoes ($14 to $27 depending on day of the week; $9 for kids eight to 12; $5 for children one to seven; kids younger than one eat free).
Open daily from February 25 to April 30. Free.
5885 route Arthur-Sauvé, Mirabel. 514-990-2708
Get more information: petite-cabane.com
Chalet Des Érables There’s more than syrup at this maple farm. Dig in to a traditional pancake meal ($18 to $22 depending on day and time; $11 to $12 for kids six to 12; $7 to $8 for kids two to five) before a day of pony rides, bumper cars and horse-drawn wagon rides. Take a ride on a train, fire truck or antique car, test your skills on the mechanical bull and see how high the kids can jump on the inflatable bouncers. Call ahead for activity availability; some activities have additional costs (from $2 to $4).
Open daily from February 27 to April 19. Free.
384 Montée Gagnon (Route 335), Sainte- Anne-des-Plaines. 450-478-0822
Get more information: chaletdeserables.com
Sucrerie De La Montagne Perched atop Mont Rigaud and surrounded by 120 acres of sap-producing maples, visitors can get a real taste of Quebec folkloric tradition here. This popular tourist destination is open year-round, though a spring visit delivers the sugaring-off experience, complete with collection and the boiling-down process. Enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride, check out the bakery, sample taffy on snow and fill your plate with all-you-can-eat Quebecois fare, such as pea soup, maple-smoked ham, baked beans, meat pie and pancakes.
Open February 13 - May 8 (open year-round with different activities). General admission (includes food), $29 to $38; children seven to 12, $19; kids three to six, $13 (depending on date and time).
300 ch. Saint- Georges, Rigaud. 450-451-0831
Get more information: sucreriedelamontagne.com
Elmhurst Outdoors Take a tour of the sugar bush and boiling room (adults, $7; kids, $6; weekends only) and sample maple toffee on the snow. Indulge in a pancake meal that also includes sausage and plenty of fresh syrup ($5 to $8), all made on-site from local ingredients. Call ahead to book your tour and meal, and remember to alert staff of any food sensitivities.
March 18 to April 15. All fees are cash-only.
65 Ganong Rd., Erbs Cove. 506-832-4421
Get more information: elmhurstoutdoors.ca
Dumfries Maples What started out as a hobby farm has evolved into a small commercial operation. This 1,900-tap spot is becoming a popular destination for visitors to buy maple goods, learn how syrup is made, sample taffy and enjoy a pancake breakfast in the log cookhouse. Bring your snowshoes and hike the trails, take in the view of the Saint John River Valley, and treat yourself to maple cotton candy.
Open daily through March and April. Free. (Cash-only for purchases).
7520 Route 102, Dumfries. 506-575-8277
Get more information: dumfriesmaples.ca
Sugar Moon Farm Get a free tour of the 2,500 taps throughout this sugar bush, sample sweet treats and have fun learning at the maple interpretive area. Sit down for a maple-infused meal at the restaurant, hike the trails, and see how the farm is using environmentally-friendly practices.
Open weekends year-round; call ahead to confirm. Syrup season takes place on weekends from March to April. Free. Adults; $5, Kids (5-12); $3. Additional cost for food.
221 Alex MacDonald Rd., Earltown. 902-657-3348
Get more information: sugarmoon.ca
Davison's Maple Syrup & Pancake House The Davison's have made maple syrup on their farm for over 110 years, producing pure, organic maple products! Enjoy some grub at their pancake house, tour the sugar bush and visit their shop for maple syrup and other goods.
Large group bookings (weekdays); First come first serve basis (weekends). Free.
2740 Newville Road, RR#1, Parrsboro. 902-254-2562
Get more information: newville.ca
Wonders of Maple Syrup at Ross Farm Museum Festivalgoers will have the chance to see how syrup was tapped and made by pioneers at this authentic living heritage site.
March 25 - 26. General admission, $6 to $8; kids six to 17, $3; children five and younger get in free; $20 for the whole family (maximum two adults). If you go on Sunday mornings, you get in free!
4568 Highway 12, New Ross. 902-689-2210
Get more information: rossfarm.novascotia.ca
Woodlands Maple Syrup At MacPhee's Orchard A joint operation between two neighbouring farms, this sugar bush taps about 450 Sugar Maple trees each year—and luckily, they love to share the experience. Call at least two days ahead to book your visit, where you can learn all about life in the sugar bush.
Dates are weather-dependent from mid-March to late April. Free.
5151 Launching Rd., Cardigan. 902-583-3203
Get more information: macpheesorchard.com