There’s nothing sweeter than Canadian maple syrup. What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than introducing kids to how this iconic Canadian treat is made. Maple syrup farms across the Eastern part of Canada (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) begin production in late February when daytime temperatures of +5° Celsius and night-time temps of -5° start the sap running through the trees, and end in early to mid-April. During this time, maple syrup farms are packed with family-friendly activities. Check out the maple syrup activities at these 10 sugar bushes and celebrate the arrival of spring with a sweet, sticky treat.
Step back in time and experience a piece of Canadian heritage at Bronte Creek Provincial Park. Every weekend in March and the week of March Break, 1890’s costumed interpreters provide guided tours of Maple Lane, demonstrating how to tap maple trees, make maple syrup and maple sugar. View artifacts in the maple museum and hop a wagon to the heated pancake house where you can enjoy fresh, hot pancakes with pure maple syrup and sausages. Oakville, Ontario, brontecreek.org
Located 45 minutes west of Ottawa, this ober-150-year old family farm is beloved in Lanark County. Visitors feel part of the Fulton’s extended family as they tour the 400-acre forest by horse-drawn carriage and learn the history of maple syrup making. Family photos line the walls of the Pancake House and Sugar Shack where the family first began to boil maple syrup. Moms will love Fulton’s line of maple bath and beauty products, Maple Luscious, created by fourth-generation farmer, Shirley Fulton Duego. Kids can visit the face painting shack on weekends and play a game of “I Spy” by picking up a playing card from the maple shoppe and returning it to receive a special maple treat. Pakenham, Ontario, fultons.ca
Enjoy free tour and tasting at this working sugar camp and fill up on a locally-inspired maple brunch of wholegrain buttermilk pancakes, baked eggs with maple ham and maple baked beans, served all day at the log restaurant before taking a hike or snowshoe to see the farm's 2500 taps. During March and April, Sugar Moon offers Sugar on Snow (taffy) all day on weekends. Ask about “Chef’s Night”, a gourmet maple dining experience featuring guest chefs. Earltown, Nova Scotia, sugarmoon.ca
Step back in time and experience the maple syrup production techniques of our ancestors. Re-enactors dressed in period costumes demonstrate and share the rich history of our country's first harvest. Listen to native stories, dance with fiddlers, try your hand at the traditional tapping process using hand drills, saw like a lumberjack and drizzle sap onto fresh snow to create taffy. Don't forget to stop by the Pancake House for a bite. St. Catharines, Ontario, whitemeadowsfarms.com
The DesGrosilliers family has been making maple syrup for the past 61 years. Located a 25-minute drive south of Montreal, this sugar shack has three large eating areas with an extensive lunch and dinner menu where you can enjoy a traditional meal on wooden tables. Kids will love visiting the hens, chicks, miniature rabbits, pigs and goats and the petting zoo and taking a sleigh ride led by the DesGrosilliers’ horses, Tim and Bo. Saint-Isidore, Quebec, labranche.ca
Located 35 minutes north of Montreal, this sugar shack is a maple amusement park for kids, offering more than the traditional hearty meal and maple syrup making demonstration; although this farm does that too. Chalet des Erables’ activities include a train ride around the farm, bumper cars, arcades, inflatable games, face painting, a carousel and pony rides. Of course, you can’t leave without trying taffy. Ste. Anne des Plaines, Quebec, chaletdeserables.com
Located 25 minutes from Perth, Ontario, Wheeler’s offers self-guided tour of the sugar camp from 9am to 3pm daily where visitors can see how the family collects sap from maple trees and makes it into pure maple syrup. Tour Wheeler's Maple Heritage Museum and learn about the history of maple syrup making and explore the sugar bush on 1km, 3.5km or 10km hiking trails. A playground featuring a tube slide and a thrilling zip line is perfect for allowing kids to burn off their sugar rush. Lanark highlands, Ontario, wheelersmaple.com
Located minutes from downtown Ottawa, Stanley’s farm has been producing maple syrup since the 1800s. Horse drawn sleigh rides and a petting farm make this farm one of Ottawa kids’ favourite places. Indulge in a pancake brunch at the pancake house, taste taffy on pure snow and visit the heritage sugar shack to learn about the process of maple syrup collection and making. Ottawa, Ontario, stanleysfarm.com
Located 35 minutes from Fredericton, brother and sister team, Nathan and Jane Scott welcome visitors in the month of March to savour the sweet aroma of boiling sap, watch the golden syrup be bottled, taste taffy on snow and enjoy a hearty pancake breakfast in the cedar log cookhouse. Kids will love the maple-flavoured goodies available for sale, including maple cotton candy spun on site on weekends. Dumfries, New Brunswick, dumfriesmaples.ca
Located 35 minutes north of Montreal, this sugar shack has been producing maple syrup for 64 years and is very popular with families. Asides from eating snow-covered taffy, the most exciting part of this farm is the 15-minute ride on an old-fashioned train through the forest. The farm also has sleigh rides. St. Jerome, Quebec, bouvrette.ca
Kids will love taking a wagon ride through this sugar bush and learn about a longstanding family tradition. James Richardson grew up listening to his grandmother’s stories of gathering and boiling sap with her father when she was a young girl in the 1900s. In 1983, James tapped six trees around his parents’ farm yard and boiled the sap in cast iron, producing 16 litres of maple syrup. Enjoy piping hot pancakes, sausages and maple syrup in the heated market, where you can shop for syrup and purchase some tempting treats to take home with you. Dunnville, Ontario, richardsonfarm.com
Originally published in March 2014.