There is nothing more iconic (or exciting!) than syrup season in Ontario. Those first days of spring when the snow is just starting to melt and the sun starts to stay our later. The best way to celebrate the start of this special season is to visit a sugar shack.
A sugar shack has many names – sap house, sugar house, sugar shanty or sugar cabin – but only one goal: to provide a hands on, sticky sweet experience with maple. Each one is (usually) hyper seasonal and only open when the sap is flowing.
Every year in March and April, when the temperatures plummet below zero at night and rise above zero in the day, maple trees in Ontario are tapped for their sap. This sap is boiled, usually over open flames, and reduced down into syrup.
A visit to a sugar shack usually involves standing my the fire, pouring hot syrup on snow, munching on maple taffy and – if you’re lucky – digging into a piping hot pancake breakfast made with fresh from the pot syrup.
Here’s our list of the very best sugar shack experiences in Ontario.
First things first… Head to Lanark County – the maple capital of Ontario
Known as the Maple Capital of Ontario, Lanark County is packed with maple activities like museums, sugar bush trails, and farms for the full maple experience!
Be sure to check out Wheeler’s Maple Heritage Museum. It was named one of the Top 10 maple experiences in Canada by Canadian Geographic and contains the largest collection of maple artifacts in Ontario.
We know you want to visit some sugar bush trails and taste that delicious maple so head to Fulton’s Pancake House for some delicious breakfast and maple desserts. There’s also Nordic Trails and snowshoeing available.
Want to learn how maple syrup is made? Ennis Maple Products makes it the old fashion way using wood fire, and they even have maple products on site as well!
If you’re a history buff at heart Lanark County is full of amazing historic sites. In Mississippi Mills there lies a fictitious and imaginative creature called Maplelope that only appears during maple season. If you’re lucky, you might see foot prints of his m-shaped hooves. Check him out on twitter to learn more about our friend!
OTHER GREAT MAPLE EXPERIENCES
Brooks Farms, 122 – 141 Ashworth Road, Mount Albert, ON
- Festival includes: Self Guided and Guided Tours, Wagon Rides to the Sugar Bush. Maple Sap Tastings, Camp Fire, Pancake House and more!
Bronte Creek Provincial Park, 1219 Burloak Drive, Oakville, ON
- Enjoy a guided tour of the Maple Lane, where 1890s costumed interpreters demonstrate how to tap maple trees, make maple syrup and maple sugar. 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.
- The Gibbons Family Farm, found north of Brockville, has 100 acres of maple bush and hosts visitors year-round to explain the maple syrup production process. During March and April, the farm co-hosts pancake breakfasts with the St. Thomas Anglican Church, offers pony rides and helps you make your own maple taffy on snow.
4570 Westminster Drive, London, ON
- No bells and whistles here, just a sweet time. Experience the ambience of an authentic working maple syrup operation producing pure Ontario Maple Syrup. Sample the first fresh drops of syrup, dip into some delicious maple butter and welcome spring!
Maple in the County at Nyman Farms
292 Mowbray Road, Picton
- This farmyard sugar shack will showcase its own maple sugar production during Maple In The County. Expect maple pork, burgers, and hearty bowls of chicken noodle soup as well as “Jersey Tails”, a fried pastry treat dusted in maple sugar when you visit.
Stay sweet friends!