Maple syrup season across southern Ontario
Flapjacks doused in maple syrup along with sausages are popular treats at Shaw’s pancake house. (Barbara Fox/Special to QMI Agency)
How sweet it is. The sap is running after a long, cold winter and predictions are for a great maple syrup season across southern Ontario.
They’re “Tapping into Maple” in Ontario’s Lake Country and Springwater that takes in Orillia, Oro-Medonte, Rama, Ramara and Severn, north of Barrie. This touring program involves 29 maple destinations for that quintessential Canadian flavour through May 31. It includes popular eateries, resorts, sugar bushes, museums and shops, all tied into maple.
Shaw’s Maple Syrup Bush in Hawkestone is where Tom Shaw said the season got off to a slower start only last week but should continue through mid-April.
“The wet, cooler summer last year set us up for a good season now, followed by the cold, hard winter,” he added.
With warm days and cold nights, the maple trees will continue pumping out the sap. It’s been that way for 111 years for the Shaw family, with 5,000 maple trees producing 4,000 litres of syrup from 160,000 litres of sap.
An annual ritual for many is to head to Shaw’s for buttermilk pancakes soaked in maple syrup, French toast, sausages and maple baked beans. The pancake house is open daily 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until April 12 and visitors can take a horse-drawn sleigh ride on weekends, see how sap is collected and boiled into syrup, and make maple taffy on the snow.
MORE SWEET TREATS
Hewitt’s Farm Market & Bakery in Warminster produces about 25 syrup products from barbecue sauce and coffee to maple butter. Visitors with Tap into Maple passports can enjoy a sample butter tart and tour the sugar shack where syrup is made and the scratch bakery.
People have already been visiting the Lalonde Sugarbush in Elmvale looking for the early-harvest light maple syrup.
Tim Lalonde demonstrated how trees are tapped for some visiting writers and gave tours of his bush camp and “sugar shack” with samples of maple cotton candy. Lalonde will be participating in the 50th annual Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival on April 25.
The sap is also boiling at the Steamy Kettle Sugar Bush in Craighurst where syrup samples are available.
At the Farm Gate in Brechin, discounts are offered on Harrington’s syrup and Meadowsweet Soap Works maple products.
The treats continue at Orillia’s Mariposa Market and downstairs at Apple Annies as well as Chelsea Chocolates at RR 1, Barrie featuring maple truffles and buttercream chocolates.
Other events include the Springwater Harvest Festival on March 28 and 29.
MAPLE ON THE MENU
In Orillia, dining with the syrup theme includes Era 67 restaurant for braised short ribs with Shaw’s syrup and maple creme brulee.
Grape & Olive: Wine and Martini Bistro provides a maple truffle with its Mediterranean-inspired menu and the Brownstone Cafe has spring maple beer and maple whiskey.
Passport holders receive a free package of maple tea at the White Lions Tea House.
There’s sweet dining at Casino Rama’s restaurants with maple-inspired dishes now through March 29 while its Balance in Life spa offers a maple-and-sugar treatment.
Nicholyn Farms in Phelpston is giving out samples of maple granola and sells a variety of locally produced maple products.
- The “Sugary Sweet Stay & Play” package at Casino Rama Resort, in a deluxe fireplace suite, includes a Shaw’s sugar bush tour, breakfast for two and a $100 resort credit ($289 a couple).
- There’s the Maple-Infused Family Package at Bayview Wildwood Resort in Severn Bridge and the Sweet Maple Package at Forks in the Trail Bed & Breakfast in Oro-Medonte that can include a themed cooking class and dinner for two.
- The Tap into Maple Getaway at Knights Inn Harbour Resort and Lakeview Restaurant in Lagoon City includes a $40 dinner voucher and pancake breakfast with Harrington’s syrup.
NEED TO KNOW
For details about the Tap into Maple passport, participants and to plan a getaway: tapintomaple.com
To find out about other syrupy events, including the Maple Syrup Festival in Elmira on March 28: ontariotravel.net.