Spring is synonymous with maples in Canada’s east—especially in French-speaking Quebec, producer of 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup. Sit down with locals at a traditional community feast over ham, split-pea soup and baked beans, join a festival, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the frosty woods, twirl gooey taffy onto a stick in the snow, catch a log-sawing competition and sample a flight of maple wine. It’s all par for the season.
In the spring, once maple trees have been tapped, locals head out to "sugar shacks" to sample all of that gooey goodness. You’ll find these shacks in and around most cities, but Montreal’s famed Au Pied de Cochon might just be the most popular. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, head to the Sucrerie de la Montagne, located about an hour outside of the city.
“Sugar bush” season in Ontario makes a great trip for any maple fan. First stop? Downtown Ottawa’s popular Maple Sugar Festival in Vanier Museopark. Then head to the countryside to try Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm in Edwards, producing syrup the traditional way since the 1800s, or Proulx Maple & Berry Farm in Cumberland for brunch in a classic wood cabin.
Pick up maple products year-round at Moncton’s rustic Trites Maples, family-run since 1900. During maple season, splurge on stacks of homespun pancakes by the wood stove and bacon-wrapped maple glazed carrots hot off the grill. Watch the sap-to-syrup process at a “boiling camp.”
Sugar Moon Farm, in the woods of northern Nova Scotia, marks the season with lavish brunches (think: maple-mustard sausages, coffee with maple whipped cream), interpretive how-to tours and classic Canadiana activities, plus special chef nights starring top Maritime talents in a sugar camp setting.
The Okanagan Valley’s Lang Vineyards claims to be the first ever to make maple wine, now found around the country. It’s a light dessert wine blending chardonnay with the iconic syrup and sap—best enjoyed with caramel ice cream. You can also sample it at Quebec’s maple spirits specialist, Domaine Labranche.
Manitoba’s Sugaring Off Festival in small-town Saint-Pierre-Jolys combines New France era history with traditional French-Canadian fare, demos, candy and syrup tastings, and foot-stomping fiddling competitions every April.