15 Ways to Make Maple Magic in Rural Ontario
It’s that wonderful time of year again. The weather is warming up, the sap is running and that means maple magic is happening all across rural Ontario. Everywhere I look there are sap buckets tacked up to maple trees and in the air a whiff wood smoke reminds me that the local sugar bush is boiling thousands of gallons of maple syrup as we speak. Stores everywhere have delicious fresh maple syrup and maple products on display and I find myself craving pancakes and maple baked beans now more than ever. It only lasts for a month or so, but when maple magic happens you want to make the most of it. Here are 15 ways that you can make your own maple magic right now across rural Ontario.
Festival and Events
1. Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, Elmira - For one day only, Saturday March 28, 2015 Elmira will celebrate the world’s largest single day Maple Syrup Festival. Devour the pancakes, browse the craft booths and sample apple fritters and baked goods. Or check out the dog show, toy show, magic show or birds of prey show. Really, this maple syrup festival has it ALL. And the best part, all funds raised go to support local community projects.
2. Maple in the County, Prince Edward County - Held March 28 & 29, 2015. Visit one of the participating sugar bushes and enjoy pancake breakfasts with fresh maple syrup, taffy on snow, s’mores, petting zoos, BBQ sausages, fire trucks, lumberjack show, artisan vendors, wineries and more. Celebrate the first harvest of the 2015 season in Prince Edward County.
3. A Taste of Maple, Orangeville and area – This event takes place across the Headwaters area, with 21 different participants offering different foodie experiences across the area. Enjoy delicious pancake breakfasts, enroll in a maple cooking class or dine on a 3-course maple inspired dinner in a traditional dry stone Blackhouse.
4. Sweetwater Festival, Midland – Head to Wye Marsh March 28 & 29, 2015 for this unique event. The Sweetwater festival is not your average maple syrup festival. Yes, there are sugar shack tours, pancakes and taffy tasting, but there is so much more to this weekend long festival. There are birds of prey and reptile/amphibian talks; wilderness survival, cooking and woodcarving demos; and of course chickadee feeding. Escape to a time when maple syrup was made over an open fire, experience local history and explore nature at its best.
5. Holstein Maplefest, Holstein - On April 11 & 12, 2015 Love’s Sugarbush comes alive with entertainment for the young and the young at heart. Bring the whole family for a day in a 40-acre sugarbush. Theyʼll be serving up pancakes and sausages all day long. Plus, there are demonstrations in the sugar bush to enjoy in addition to a blacksmith, taffy pull, ice cream making, candle making, a rope bridge and a free craft sale with over 30 original vendors.
6. Wheeler’s Maple Syrup Pancake House, Lanark Highlands – This Canadian lodge style dining room opened in 1996, but its history goes back much further. The massive white cedar logs used to construct the building were reclaimed from old barns and houses from a across Eastern Ontario. The centrepiece of the dining hall is the handcrafted stone fireplace built from stones collected from the Highland Line. Pancakes, homemade sausages, baked beans and french toast are is cooked in the open kitchen and served directly to your table. Stop by the Wheeler’s Maple Heritage Museum to see an astounding 5,228 unique items on display.
7. Fort Rose Maple Company & Pancake House, Park Hill – For six weekends, from Feb. 28 to April 5, enjoy pancakes, maple baked beans, cabbage salad, sausage, fruit salad, muffins, and refreshments. The pancake house is open every Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
8. Jakeman’s Maple Products, Beachville – Open every March weekend from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm. Meals are provided by the 4H Clubs of Oxford County. Enjoy the sweet taste of Jakeman’s maple syrup, pancakes, sausages and maple baked beans. All proceeds from meals go to assist 4H programs.
9. Brooks Farm, Mount Albert – Enjoy a train or wagon ride, self-guided or guided educational tours, sap and syrup tastings,a campfire in the sugar bush and maple sugar products. The Pancake House serves pancakes with maple syrup, maple muffins and butter tarts, sausages, coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
10.Fulton’s Pancake House, Almonte - Savour fluffy pancakes, maple baked beans, sausages, and maple desserts at Fulton’s sprawling 400-acre farm. You’re invited to visit the 120-seat seasonal restaurant anytime – No reservation is needed in-season. Open daily February 14 to April 19, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
11. McLachlan Family Pancake House, Komoka - McLachlan Family Maple Syrup & Pancake House is a quaint restaurant with a nostalgic atmosphere, offering pancakes with their very own Pure Maple syrup. The menu includes pancakes, sausage, ham, maple-baked beans, home fries, fruit salad, beverage adults – $12, kids 12 and under – $7.00. Open everyday from March 1st to April 4th, 9 am to 3:30 pm.
Maple Syrup Bush Tours
12. St. Jacob’s Maple Syrup Bush Tours, St. Jacob’s – A visit you won’t forget! Travel from the St Jacobs Farmers Market on a horse-drawn wagon to a sugar bush during the peak of the sap run. As you travel through the tall Sugar Bush you will see the methods used to collect sap, learn how maple syrup is produced as well as see the different working methods from the past and present. As you’re watching the steam rise and sipping on complimentary hot beverages memories are sure to be made. Pancakes and maple syrup are also offered as part of the tour. Adults – $18.00, Children (ages 4-12) – $10.00, Children (ages 3-under) – Free.
13. White Meadows Farms, Pelham - Starting in mid February right through to the beginning of April the Sugar Shuttle takes you on a Sugar Bush adventure where you begin your self-guided picturesque tour on our groomed trails. Discover activities, indigenous trees and themed presentations. Re-enactors, dressed in period costumes, demonstrate and share the rich history of Canada’s first harvest of the year, maple syrup. Several stations have fires where you can get warm; if you get hungry we have special yummy products only offered in the bush as well.
14. Richardson Farms, Dunnville - Includes a wagon ride to the bush. Take a walk along a groomed trail in our Carolinian forest and learn about the various species of trees that grow in this ecosystem. See how they collect sap by bucket and pipeline and learn how sap is pumped from the trees to the middle of the bush. See how maple taffy is made and sample this sweet treat (an extra charge applies). Try your hand at tapping a tree. When you come back to the farm, be sure to stop at the sugar shanty building to see how sap from the bush is boiled into pure maple syrup.
15. McCully’s Hill Farm, St. Marys - Come out to the farm and learn how maple syrup is made. Take a horse drawn wagon ride through the sugar bush, and see how sap is collected then visit the sugar shack to learn how it is turned into maple syrup. Make a stop in the barn and see what the animals are up to and then stay for a delicious pancake brunch featuring McCully’s own maple syrup. Open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am – 2 pm from March 7 to 29th, 2015.