Canada’s capital region loves to celebrate the sweet and natural treat that is maple syrup. Maple syrup season usually starts in late February and can run into April – a late winter and spring highlight! 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!
Within the city of Ottawa and in its surrounding countryside, you can experience Canada’s liquid gold in all its forms – even as spa products! Here are a few delicious highlights:
Located in the heart of a sugar bush about 10 minutes east of Parliament Hill, the Vanier Museopark is the only francophone museum in the Canada’s capital region. What’s more, it’s home to the world’s only fully functional urban sugar shack! The onsite restaurant offers delicious traditional meals from mid-February to late April (open without reservations on weekends). Every year, the Vanier Museopark also holds a Sugar Festival (select dates between March 30 – April 5, 2020) that harkens back to old maple sugar traditions. Open year-round, the small museum is the ideal place to discover the richness of the region’s francophone heritage and the history of its inhabitants.
Omega Park, located in Montebello, Que. – less than an hour’s drive from downtown Ottawa – is a large wildlife park that focuses on Canadian animals 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. During late winter and maple season, the park usually offers special programming on select dates, including wagon rides, maple taffy in the traditional sugar shack, farm animals in the heritage farm, live demonstrations by a chainsaw wood carving artist, as well as special animation throughout the park, including musicians.
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 Winter Magic and Maple Season runs daily Feb. 15 – April 19, 2020.
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, and even an Easter egg hunt. Stanley’s maple season runs weekends, Feb. 29 – April 12, 2020.
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 to learn how maple syrup is made, visit the small animal petting farm and let the kids let loose in the play parks. Sugar bush programming at the Proulx Farm runs on weekends between Feb. 23 – April 13, 2020, as well as the full week of the Ontario March Break (Mar. 16-20) and Easter weekend.
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 from March 7 – April 13, 2020. 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: the iconic BeaverTail pastries!
Lanark County Maple Weekend
The Lanark County region just south-west of Ottawa participates in Ontario’s Maple Weekend which takes place the first weekend of April each year (April 4 – 5, 2020). Several Lanark sugar bushes (including the aforementioned Fulton’s) feature different activities and offerings including 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.