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Sugar Shack in Ontario

Hey all,
So I can't make it to Martin Picard's sugar shack in Quebec but I'm hoping to find a good place to go to sample some maple syrup while the sap is running. Does anyone have any recs for a good place that one could do a day trip from Toronto to?

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  1. never been but i was planning on going this year... don't think i will have a chance to make it tho...

      1. Here is one in the Oshawa area, excellent place. Remember going there as a child for school every year.


        1. Years ago I went to this one in Mennonite country:

          I remember it being very busy. Crowds were worth it for the pancakes though! And you could always combine it with a visit to the St. Jacob's farmers market...

          1 Reply
          1. re: dxs

            Second the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival rec. My friend who grew up in Elmira introduced me to the festival. There are a lot of tasty foods there and the people are very friendly. Many of the goodies are homemade. The prices for maple syrup are a steal as well. If I recall, a large 4L jug of grade A medium amber only cost me $29.
            A note: make sure you arrive early to avoid the long lineups-- especially those for the pancakes. I was there at 8am and it was already quite busy

          2. There is also Horton's Tree Farm in Stouffville which I plan on checking out this coming week-end. I have been to both Bruce's Mill and Kortright centre previous years, but neither measured up to memories of family run sugar shacks that we visited in the Ottawa Valley when I was growing up.

            3 Replies
            1. re: cheesymama

              After oh, a 20 year absence, I went to the maple festival at Kortright Centre last winter and although the pancakes and sausages were really yummy the crowds, lines, and screaming kiddies were just unbearable. And they were insanely disorganized - not handling the crowds well at all. Would definitely NOT go back, unless it was a weekday. Even then I imagine it would be crowded, though not as bad as a weekend. Man it was crazy. Too bad too, I did like the food. And great memories from class field trips back in the day… and great syrup.

              Any of these places chill (no huge crowds/lines)? If they were quiet and relaxed I'd be interested in going.

              1. re: magic

                I had a free family pass for the Toronto conservation area festivals and I still couldn't bring myself to take the time to travel and visit because I knew there'd be crowds of kids and urbanites with more money than sense..

                Love all the maple products! Until recently I helped bring in the old-style buckets and boil down the syrup all night under a brilliant moon using a wood fired boiler at a friends retreat in Madawaska, but we've both got too old to manage the hard work.

                We should continue to help kids connect to real foods and their heritage but it will take some outstanding, young, and dedicated teachers to do it.

                1. re: torontovore

                  Agreed! Childhood memories of Kortright Ctr. maple outings still resonate. So important. Well said.

            2. We usually hit Maple in the County in Prince Edward County -- there's always at least one sugar shack.

              1. I went to many sugar shacks In the Montreal area and I am afraid, would it there or here - to find the same 30-minute-in-and-out service, screaming kids and no special fun. Any good recommendation close to Toronto? Thanks for any suggestion.

                1. Well, we did the Horton's Maple Sugar Bush today. The experience was quaint. Very small area for walking around, which worked well for us with 2 small children. It wasn't overly crowded at all. There were some demonstrations of methods of boiling down sap. The pancakes are available in an old cabin with a dirt floor. I liked the atmosphere, and when we ordered our pancakes we could watch them making them, fun for the kids. However, a few on the griddle were burnt, so my husband pointed out the 2 that he wanted and asked nicely if he could have those. He was told no, and was then told which ones he would be given, one of the burnt ones of course. When he commented that it was burnt he was tole to put syrup on it and it would be fine. Unfortunately, this was at the end of our visit and left a bad taste (ha ha) in my mouth.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: cheesymama

                    Thanks for the infos... Too bad some people do not realise that competition is stiff, these days.

                    1. re: cheesymama

                      Surely, they can just discard burnt pancakes....

                      1. re: Full tummy

                        Yeah, seriously. We went to the one at Purple Woods Conservation Area on Saturday, and the Scouts doing the cooking were piling up the burnt ones to be thrown away. My date actually LIKES burnt pancakes, so he specifically asked for them, and in response they piled his plate high and told him if he wanted more to just come back, because otherwise they were headed for the trash can.

                        In addition, when we got there, the (small) parking lot was full, so they gave us a free pass to cover our admission if we wanted to park down the road and walk back. I'm sure the other events have higher production values, but it was a really nice afternoon, and worth the price of the pancakes just to watch the little ones enjoying a day in the woods.

                    2. Two truly "Rural Ontario" maple fests:


                      And... a bit further from large centres:


                      1. There's the annual "Sugaring Off" event at Hart House Farms on Sat Apr 4th. A day trip with transportation provided, it's usually just 2 bus loads of people so not crowded. There's a walking tour of the farm, the sugar shack tour, unlimited pancakes and I see there's musical entertainment this year as well.


                        1. The ones in Ontario are lame ;-(( Yucky pancakes that cost 1 cent to make and they charge you $20 admission! Compared to Quebec's Sugar Shacks.... WOW! AMAZING! All you can eat menu with maple syrup and dancing afterwards... all for $20! How amazing is that!

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: Full tummy

                              There are 2 I use to go to, both great: http://www.cabaneasucre.com/index.php

                              There is one place called: Au Pied de Cochon. An award winning sugar shack but much more pricey - $60 or so a person. I have not been but family and friends say the food is A1. You'll have to find out if they have evening entertainment.

                              If you google Montreal Sugar shacks or maybe Gatineau area you'll have a list to choose from :-

                          1. Although it's not yet updated for 2014, I keep a complete list of Ontario syrup festivals at http://www.globurban.com/maplestuff.html
                            You might find some leads here.
                            2014 updates are in progress.