Asking an Ontarian for his or her favourite season can be wildly divisive. Some prefer the colours of fall, others the skiing opportunities of winter, some the long-awaited heat and produce of summer, and others still the sense of renewal that comes with spring.
Of course, all of these answers would be wrong. Hands-down, indisputably the best season in Ontario is Maple Season.
Maple Season takes place between late February and late April in Ontario, whenever the weather has warmed enough that daytime temperatures are above freezing while night-time temperatures remain below zero. To celebrate the arrival of Maple Season, an extraordinary number of Maple-Syrup-themed festivals and activities take place across the province. Here are nine we recommend:
1. Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival at the Kortright Centre and Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area
March 1st to April 6th 2014, 9:30am-5:00pm
Bring your kids to the Kortright Centre or Bruce’s Mill on weekends or during the March Break. Both venues are offering maple syrup demonstrations and maple syrup trail walks throughout the day. Festival activities include live kids entertainment, face painting, magic shows, wagon rides, crafts & other family activities, and free samples of maple syrup.
Where: Kortright Centre for Conservation at 9550 Pine Valley Dr., Woodbridge and Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area at 3291 Stouffville Rd, Whitchurch-Stouffville
Cost: $10 for adults, $6.50 for kids, Free for members and children under 4
For more information, visit their website.
2. Proulx Farms’ MapleFest
March 1st to April 21st 2014, weekends 9am-5pm (no reservation required); weekdays 8am-6pm (reservations required)
Proulx Farms�A�3rd generation sugar bushA�begins its activities in the last week of February and ends mid-April. On the weekend, watch the sap being collected in the individual buckets from their sugar maple trees � some being more than 200 years old! Visit the syrup shack to see and smell the sap being transformed into real maple syrup, then enjoy a pancake meal or a full traditional sugarbush meal. Have a taste of the real 100% pure taffy on snow, enjoy a horse-drawn hay ride through the maple bush, take a hike on one of the walking trails, and visit the petting zoo!
Where: 1865 O’Toole Rd., Cumberland (just outside of Ottawa)
Cost: $5 admission and sugarbush tour; pancakes and buffet costs extra
For more information, visit their website.
3. 20th Annual Holstein Maplefest
April 12th and 13th, 2014
Come spend a day in the 40-acre sugar bush and enjoy edu-tainment at its best! All-day pancake and sausage breakfast, craft sale, kids entertainment, plus 30 demonstrations, vendors and displays. Demonstrations and activities include flint & steel fire-starting, taffy pulling, candle-making, basket-weaving, an exotic animal show, catapults, a rope bridge, a multi-sport dog show and lots more. Dress appropriately for outdoor activities and bring your appetite!
Where: Love’s Sugar Bush, 392098 Grey Road 109, near Holstein, Ontario
Cost: $8 admission for adults, free for children under 14; pancake breakfast extra
For more information, visit www.holsteinmaplefest.com or call 519-334-3490519-334-3490.
4. Kemble Maple Syrup Tour
April 5th, 2014. Tour stops open 10am-4pm. Breakfast is served from 8 – 10 and lunch is served from 11-3.
The Kemble Maple Syrup Tour and Arts in the Church is a fundraising and community-building event for the Kemble Sarawak Zion Keppel United Churches. Syrup set-ups range from a homemade evaporator processing sap to Miners Maple Syrup Products with 6200 taps on a vacuum system. At Regal Point Elk you find activities and play areas for the whole family. The well received art show and sale is returning and is now in the Kemble United Church so you can enjoy it at the same stop as your meal. Continuing this year is an all-day Pancake Breakfast, at the Kemble United Church. This can be enjoyed separate from the tour or as the meal included in your passport so come on out and start your day with the sweet taste of spring!
Where: 319 940 Kemble Rock Road, Georgian Bluffs, Ontario
Cost: Passports, which include 1 meal, are $15 for adults, $5 ages 6-12, and free for children under 6; additional meal prices extra
For more information, please visit their website or call 519-534-1211519-534-1211.
5. Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival
April 26th, 2014
Every year the sleepy town of Elmvale explodes in a celebration of Ontario pure maple syrup. Vendors offer maple syrup, food galore, books, collectibles, and more. Don’t miss the Sugar Shack at the east end of town where you can get information, directions, tickets for the sugarbush bus tours, as well as your copy of the festival directory. The Community Hall is hosting the all-day pancake breakfast, with musical accompaniment by North of 50.
On the Main Stage you’ll meet the Dignitaries, and cheer during the log sawing contest and the firefighters’ pancake-eating contest. Outside at the arena, kids can pet the animals and go for a pony ride. The whole family can visit the firefighters’ display and then have great rides on the midway. Inside the arena treasures abound at the Craft and Quilt shows.
Where: Elmvale, Ontario, 20 kms north of Barrie on Hwy 27 at Hwy 92 (the Wasaga Beach Rd.)
Cost: A�$8 for adults, $3 for children 12 and under
For more information, visit their website http://www.elmvalemaplesyrup.ca
6. Mountsberg�s Maple Town
Every weekend March 1st�April 6th 2014, plus all March Break. 10am�4pm.
Mountsberg’s Maple sugar bush has been producing maple magic for more than 150 years. Approximately 600 trees are tapped during spring and the watery sap is be magically transformed into sweet maple syrup in the Sugar Shanty. Included in your maple experience: sap-to-syrup live demo, maple candy-making workshop with FREE candy samples, pancake buffet under outdoor pavilion nestled in the woods, access to children’s Play Barn, birds of prey demonstrations in the Raptor Centre, and guided horse-drawn wagon rides.
Where: 2259 Milburough Line, Hamilton
Cost: $7.50 adults, $5.25 children, free for children under 4
For more information, please visit: http://www.conservationhalton.ca/maple-town
7. Bronte Creek Provincial Park Maple Syrup Festival
Every weekend in March + all March Break 2014, + Easter Weekend April 2014. 9:30am�3pm.
Enjoy a guided tour of the Maple Lane, where 1890s costumed interpreters demonstrate how to tap maple trees, make maple syrup and maple sugar. View artifacts in the maple museum or tour the 100-year-old Spruce Lane Farmhouse. Be sure to browse through the maple products and souvenirs available in the Maple Gift Shoppe and pick up a bottle of syrup to take home. Hop on a wagon that will take you to a heated pancake house where you can enjoy fresh, hot pancakes with pure maple syrup and sausages, served up throughout the festival hours.
Where: 1219 Burloak Drive, Oakville, Ontario
Cost: $16 park fee per vehicle; cost of food extra
For more information, please visit their website.
8.A� Purple Woods Maple Syrup Festival
March 8-16th, 22-23rd, and 29-30th 2014.
Birds will be singing and pancakes will be flipping at the 39th Annual Maple Syrup Festival at Purple Woods Conservation Area in Oshawa.A� See how maple syrup was made over 400 years ago through to the modern methods of today, take a horse-drawn wagon ride and enjoy some hot pancakes.A� Please wear appropriate footwear and dress for cooler weather. Since Purple Woods is located on the top of the Oak Ridges Moraine it is always a little colder with some wind.
Where: 38 Coates Road East, Oshawa (S-E corner of Simcoe Street and Coates Road at the Oshawa/Scugog boundary)
Cost: $4 per person, free for children under 2; cost of food extra. Tickets must be purchased online.
For more information, please visit: http://cloca.ca/msf/
9. Headwaters ‘A Taste of Maple’
March 28th-April 13th, 2014.
Join the fine folks in Headwaters for A Taste of Maple taking place at various locations across the region. Take part in a Maple Syrup Festival, enjoy delicious maple cowboy breakfasts, enroll in maple cooking classes, be inspired by maple-themed art or even create your own at a painting class! All this plus the delicious Tastes of Maple on offer via special desserts, savouries, prix fixe meals and more to tempt your taste buds.
Where: Various locations in the Headwaters region. Click here for a full list of participating venues.
Cost: Varies based on activity.
For more information, please visit tasteofmaple.ca.