Canada’s Capital Region loves to celebrate the sweet and natural treat that is maple syrup. Often seen as a harbinger of spring, maple syrup season usually starts in late February and can run into April. Ideal temperatures of +5° Celsius (41° Fahrenheit) during the day and -5° Celsius (23° Fahrenheit) during the night start the sap running through the trees. It takes 40 litres of sap to reduce down (by boiling) to one litre of maple syrup. The tasty result is definitely worth the wait!
The urban area of Ottawa and its surrounding countryside abounds with places where you can experience Canada’s liquid gold in all its forms – even as spa products! Here are a few highlights:
Omega Park, located in Montebello, Que. – just a 45-minute drive from downtown Ottawa – is a large wildlife park that immerses visitors in Canadian wildlife and First Nations’ history. Any time of year, you can take a Canadian safari through the natural habitat of animals like deer, elk, bison, caribou and wolves. Plus, during maple season, the Park’s special programming includes: live demonstrations by a chainsaw wood carving artist (Thursdays to Sundays, Feb. 1 – Apr. 1, 2018); wagon rides, maple taffy in the traditional sugar shack and farm animals in the heritage farm (daily, Feb. 10 – Apr. 1, 2018, weather permitting); as well as special animation throughout the park, including musicians (end of February until approximately Mar. 18, 2018).
Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush
Located in Pakenham, Ont., just under an hour’s drive west of downtown Ottawa, the family-run Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush offers the traditional sugar bush experience, including tours of the syrup-making operation, meals in the pancake house and horse-drawn sleigh rides through the woods. Fulton’s also produces maple-based culinary and spa products which are sold in their Maple Shoppe (see the last item in this list to learn about maple’s health benefits). Fulton’s maple season runs daily Feb. 17 – April 15, 2018.
Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm
Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm, located about 30 minutes east of downtown Ottawa in Edwards, Ont., also offers a traditional sugar bush experience, plus a petting farm and a children’s play area. Stanley’s maple season runs weekends, Feb. 24 – April 8, 2018.
Proulx Maple & Berry Farm
Located just east of Ottawa in Cumberland, Ont., Proulx Maple & Berry Farm offers a traditional sugar bush experience as well, including weekend brunch. Take one of their guided tours of the farm to learn how maple syrup is made and check out their farm store. The Proulx Maple Farm season runs on weekends between Feb. 25 – April 15, 2018, but also the full week of the Ontario March Break (Mar. 12-16).
One of the newest additions to the Ottawa maple scene is the Log Farm, a pioneer-style working farm located in the Nepean area, just west of downtown Ottawa. The site is open to visitors at different periods of the year, including the popular maple season in March and April. Meet the farm animals, enjoy taffy on snow, take a wagon ride, collect maple sap and see how syrup is made. The Log Farm also features another Canadian treat this maple season: the iconic BeaverTail pastries!
The second edition of SugarLumberFest – a gourmet urban sugar shack experience – will take place at Lansdowne in the Glebe neighbourhood on March 24, 2018. Reserve your seats for one of the multiple sittings and indulge on a non-traditional menu prepared by Rituel’s chef Jean-Philippe Ménard. Savour baked beans served hot from the kettle and enjoy maple syrup straight from a maple tree. Each reservation also gives you access to the outdoor venue where you will find a hot chocolate bar, a maple taffy bar and a lumberjack competition.
North America’s only urban sugar bush is wedged into 17,5 acres of land in Ottawa’s Vanier neighbourhood, just 10 minutes east of Parliament Hill. You can visit the small museum any time of the year to learn about early French-Canadian life on the banks of the majestic Ottawa River, as well as the process of making maple syrup. The sugar shack’s restaurant is open every weekend from February to April, and extra programming is offered during the Maple Sugar Fest (April 3 – 8, 2018) such as a maple soup contest on the Tuesday as well as live entertainment, lumberjack activities and delicious traditional food on the weekend.
Lanark County Maple Weekend
The Lanark County region just south-west of Ottawa participates in Ontario’s Maple Weekend which takes place April 7–8, 2018. Several Lanark sugar bushes (including the aforementioned Fulton’s) host different activities and offerings from pancake breakfasts, sugar bush trails, sugar making demonstrations, taffy on snow, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and much more.
Flapjack’s Canadian Diner
It’s always maple season at Flapjack’s, a Canadian-themed restaurant located just west of downtown Ottawa in the Little Italy neighbourhood. This diner is the perfect place to indulge in all your favourite lumberjack-inspired flavours like specialty buttermilk pancakes, battered maple bacon, poutine, panwiches (sandwiches made with pancakes!) and milkshakes.
Maple Treatment at Holtz Spa
Did you know that maple syrup is rich in healing properties like antioxidants and minerals? This is why Fulton’s started their Maple Luscious Bath & Body Products line. Holtz Spa, located in Downtown Rideau, near the ByWard Market area offers treatments that use these products. Choose from a maple manicure, pedicure, massage or maple sugar body scrub and wrap. You’ll love the feel and smell of these unique spa products!
Looking for more Canadian-related fun? Take a look at our suggestions on how you can get A Taste of Canadiana in Ottawa.