Up until a few days ago, it was really feeling like Spring here in Canada. We were taking walks with Spring jackets, and photographing the tiny flower buds popping up through the soggy ground. Then, winter hit. Again. Overnight, we went from sunny Spring weather to a massive blizzard. Although all the snow is almost melted now, the blizzard served as a reminder that winter is not over yet. Since then, it was my priority on the weekend to enjoy the last bits of winter, before Spring was here for good. This past winter I wrote a few posts about enjoying winter in Canada, here and here. Besides visiting ice wine festivals and ice skating, another truly Canadian thing to do is visit a maple syrup farm. I have always wanted to do this, but never had the opportunity before! We visited a maple syrup farm in Southern Ontario, where a “sugar shuttle” (aka hay ride) takes you out to the forest, where you embark on a “Sugar Bush Adventure”. While walking along the super-muddy trails, we passed through a variety of stations, like a pioneer reenactment of how they used to make maple syrup, as well as a lumberjack’s house where we used a two-handled saw to slice through a maple trunk. We were thankful for these little educational vignettes, since many of them had cozy fires roaring where we could warm our hands before setting back out onto the trail.
My favourite part of the self-guided tour was stopping in at the “Taffy-on-Snow” hut. Here we bought hot apple cider to drink while we ate maple taffy (which is basically just maple syrup on a popsicle stick, that had frozen in a bed of snow). It was amazingly sweet and delicious. Then we learned how they currently make maple syrup, collecting the sap from the maple tree (which is 2-4 times as sweet as the sap in other trees), through blue plastic tubes drilled into the trunks. The syrup is collected from February to April, since the temperature here in Canada fluctuates 10 degrees between day and night, causing the sap to run up and down the tree.
Then it was time to try some of the syrup back at the Maple Lodge, where we enjoyed a $1.95 pancake with fresh maple syrup. We also devoured a yummy “butter tart”, one of Canada’s other specialties.
If you’re visiting Ontario or Quebec, make sure to take a trip to a “sugar bush”, to experience the beauty of Canadian maple syrup making. Although it was super super cold and I couldn’t feel my fingers through my mittens by the end of our excursion, it was well worth it. We came home with toothaches and lots of great memories :)