Pure unadulterated sweet sticky maple syrup in a sugar shack in Quebec, it doesn’t get more Canadian than this. And seeing the price it fetches on the world market these days many insiders consider the naturally made product as the new liquid gold. At last count, a barrel can obtain $1,800 compared to $57 on average for a crude oil barrel.
Quebec’s sugar shacks are as Canadian as poutine, ice hockey and Celine Dion. Visiting a sugar shack in Quebec is one of the things to do in Canada not to be missed and sugaring off is a thriving Quebec tradition.
- 1 Where to find sugar shacks in Quebec
- 2 Best time to visit sugar shacks in Quebec
- 3 Sugar Shacks in Montreal (Cabane a sucre Montreal)
- 4 An old fashion Cabane à sucre
Where to find sugar shacks in Quebec
Simply take a road trip and visit one of these sugar shacks in Canada’s largest maple syrup producing province of Quebec to see for yourself.
The province’s maple syrup watchdog, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, boasts over 7,000 producers scattered across Quebec.
To boot, a precious few cabanes a sucre (sugar shacks) are even older than Canada!
As blankets of snow cover the picturesque countryside across this French-speaking province (English is spoken in the bigger hubs like Montreal and Quebec City), sugar shacks are aiming their sights on milder days when the life cycle of the sugar maple tree resumes and the sap starts flowing.
Best time to visit sugar shacks in Quebec
Typically the prime time in these parts is March through April but with the frigid cold blast this winter it’s anyone’s guess on the start of the harvest season.
Yes, Mother Nature rules the sap flow.
But in the meanwhile, we can all prepare to smack our lips together on the upcoming sweet syrup that’ll hopefully soon flow.
Still, you’ll find some sugar shacks are open year-round, as many establishments stage old-timey shows celebrating the world of syrup.
Here’s where to enjoy the best sugar shacks in Quebec.
Sugar Shacks in Montreal (Cabane a sucre Montreal)
1- The Morgan Arboretum
One of the last bastions of maple groves on the island of Montreal, this 245-hectare forest reserve which is part of McGill University offers a two-hour guided tour with a detour to the sugar shack.
Whisk into the grove via a lively sleigh ride and head to the sugar shack to learn the traditions behind tapping the sap.
Sampling taffy on snow along with other fare at Morgan Arboretum is one of the fun things to do in Montreal.
The Morgan Arboretum is at 150 Chemin des Pins, Quebec.
2- Sucrerie de la Montagne
Sucrerie de la Montagne has been attracting crowds for over 30 years.
Call it a calling.
Former meeting planner Pierre Faucher decided to try his hand at building an attraction, planning events and enticing the masses.
He switched gears and left the corporate rat race.
He purchased land near his hometown and laboured for 12 years building wooden framed structures.
“I built it with my own hands,” he says humbly.
It’s the Sugar Shack of sugar shacks and has been lauded by publications like The New York Times and National Geographic Traveler.
Faucher makes around 400 gallons of the sweet sticky stuff annually.
His newest product is a maple syrup-infused cologne, which has the potential to compete with French perfumeries.
And why not?
The idea occurred after an accidental meeting.
While visiting his establishment, a perfume maker from the French Riviera just happened to overhear Faucher describe the technique behind maple syrup production.
This technique involves lots of aromatic vapour seeping into the air.
A eureka moment occurred and Faucher went to Grasse in France to check out the perfume factory.
He found a new partner and if this latest venture is anything like his beloved sugar shack, these petites bouteilles could be another crowd pleaser.
Faucher plans to donate proceeds from the sales toward Alzheimer’s research.
Sucrerie de la Montagne is at 300, Chemin St Geroges, Rigaud, Quebec in the Monteregie region, which can be visited as a day trip from Montreal.
Sugar shacks in Quebec City area
3- Érablière le Chemin du Roy
In the heart of an ancient maple grove about 20 minutes’ drive west from Quebec City you have arrived at the fabled King’s Road country “Chemin du Roy” which holds its own lore and distinction.
The historic road on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River was once considered the longest road in existence when completed in 1787 (280 km).
Today curious maple syrup foragers who travel this country road can stop at the Erabliere le Chemin du Roy for a real treat.
During sugar maple production season you can watch the age-old technique.
However, off-season also has its perks.
The old cabane à sucre is open year-round for lunches and short 20-minute guided tours.
The menu is traditional rib-sticking fare smothered in maple syrup.
Enjoy traditional Canadian foods, such as a steamy bowl of French Canadian pea soup and homemade bread.
Try the traditional Québécois meat pie drizzled with more maple syrup, and try the maple smoked ham and pancakes with maple syrup among other tasty delights.
Don’t let the petite size of the 300-year-old sugar grove fool you either.
This boutique place has 1,300 tappings and come maple syrup season there’s a sweet smell in the air.
Érablière le Chemin du Roy is at 237, Chemin du Lac, Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Quebec.
4- Sucrerie Jean-Louis Massicotte et filles
An hour west from Quebec City along the ancient St. Lawrence River in the quaint Mauricie region lies a historic family-run establishment that predates Canada as a nation.
The family-owned Sucrerie Jean-Louis Massicotte et filles has been in the sugar shack business since 1710.
Picture 10 generations incorporating traditional maple syrup methods used by their ancestors.
The current proprietors Gaétan Massicotte and Monique and their staff and volunteers dutifully collect the maple sap by horse-drawn carts or snowshoes and pour the gold nectar into aged oak barrels.
Arrive at this historic site with its quaint Quebecois red and white cabin in the woods and discover the early traditions which incidentally involves the renowned Quebecois hardy lunch prepared on a wood stove.
The setting is purely authentic, no electricity and guests are encouraged to bring along their own musical instruments.
Don’t have any?
There’s always the fun, quirky jigs you can master with a pair of musical spoons.
The family is crossing the fingers on this year’s yield and are anticipating opening its doors on March 15, the old Ides of March.
Sucrerie Jean-Louis Massicotte et filles is at 101, Route 159 Nord, P.R. St-Prosper (Champlain), Quebec.
An old fashion Cabane à sucre
5- Kinadapt, Lanaudiere region
In the deep white north far from the streets of Montreal in the region of Lanaudière there’s a guy who’s combined his love of the outdoors and maple syrup in an out-of-the-box concept, the old-fashioned way.
Maple syrup foragers travel by sled dog with the help of draught horses for this traditional maple syrup production outing created by kinesiologist Peter Boutin of Kinadapt.
Folks head into the pretty snows cape deep into the sugar maple groves and when the guides feel the setting is right it’s time to step off the dog sled and resume the jaunt via snowshoes.
Amid a picturesque winter in Quebec scene, it’s time for the traditional maple sap collection led by your trusty guide.
This hands-on outing helps you identify and tap the maples as you learn the ins and outs of maple syrup production.
In between the sap-to-syrup steps expect samplings.
The finale happens at the end of a full day when you head back for a traditional sugar shack meal.
Travelling with a pack of sociable, tail-wagging Siberian and Alaskan huskies definitely helps create a memorable ambiance.
Kinadapt is at 1800, Chemin Laurin, Rawdon, Québec
If you simply can’t wait for your trip, order your Canadian maple syrup online here.
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- 10 amazing Economuseum to experience Quebec traditions
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- Things to do in Niagara on the Lake
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- 30 Incredible facts about Canada