By WAHEEDA HARRIS
The sap is running early this year, thanks to Old Man Winter’s scarce appearance in Ontario and many sweet maple-syrup-themed celebrations are planned this season.
With more than 400 producers in the province, the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association has several options for those who want to experience the syrup production process, learn the history and indulge in a maple-syrup meal.
Crinklaw’s Maple Products
A family-run operation since it was established in 1832 south of London, Ontario, Crinklaw Maple Products welcomes visitors to help collect sap, learn about the production process at the Sugar House, take a wagon ride and indulge in pancake meals, as well as purchase homemade gourmet goodies such as maple mustard, maple balsamic salad dressing, maple BBQ sauce and maple tea. Wed.–Sun., Mar. 3–Apr. 7; maple syrup festival Mar. 10 & 11, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. [map]
Gibbons Maple Sugar House and Museum
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. Open year-round; maple events are Mar. 24 & 31, Apr. 7 &14 [map]
McLachlan Brothers Maple Syrup and Pancake House
With over 12,000 taps, The McLachlan Brothers family farm, originating in 1842 west of London, has 3 kilometres of wood chip trails for visitors, offers tours of its modern production process and has weekend horse-drawn wagon rides. Head to the pancake house for maple-inspired brunch offerings. Daily 9–4 Mar. 1–Apr. 1, Apr. 6 & 7, (tentatively) Apr. 14 & 15 [map]
Wheelers Maple Products, Pancake House & Sugar Camp
West of Ottawa in Lanark County, Wheelers farm has a self-guided tour of its production process, several trails for hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, a museum devoted to local maple syrup heritage, a playground for the kids, a blacksmith shop and a rare collection of more than 300 antique chainsaws. In the Pancake House, a cedar-log lodge with a large wood-burning fireplace, flapjacks are served up with homemade maple sausage. Daily 9–5 year-round [map]
More Ontario sugar shacks and events:
Bronte Creek Annual Maple Syrup Festival: weekends Mar. 3–18
Ipperwash Maple Syrup Festival (Williamson Farms): weekends Mar. 17–25
Springwater Maple Syrup Festival: weekends Mar. 3–Apr. 1
Kinsmen Fanshawe Sugar Bush: tours, hayrides, pancakes and sausage; weekends in Mar., daily Mar. 12–16
Live in or around Ottawa? Check out more Ottawa sugar shacks!