Going ‘Sugaring Off’ – A Unique Experience in Quebec

Going ‘Sugaring Off’ – A Unique Experience in Quebec

by Peter Stuart

One thing that is for certain is that spring is just around the corner. You can almost feel the sap rising in the trees already! Speaking of which, one thing which is popular in this part of Canada around spring time is to go ‘sugaring off’, or to a ‘sugar shack’. In proper Québec French we call it going to the ‘Cabane à Sucre’.

These are establishments in the maple-forested areas on the outskirts of our major cities, which specialize in the production of maple syrup, a local specialty. Usually the maple trees are now tapped using an industrial system of tubing fed by gravity into a processing facility which boils it down into various levels of gooey goodness, including maple syrup, maple butter, taffy, and you can usually also buy an assortment of maple candies and cookies at the gift shop on site.

Most of these establishments also offer some sort of traditional French-Canadian live entertainment, usually some sort of folk music played by local musicians. Some offer tours of their processing facilities and horse or tractor-drawn tours of the surrounding woods.

Many are open year round, but the high season for such indulgences is coming up soon, so you might want to start looking into booking a reservation with one of these outfits. The one I’ve had the most experience with, and can honestly recommend in all my years in the tour business, is called Cabane à Pierre, in Frampton, Québec, near the Beauce region of the province, just south of Québec City.

To get there, just take highway 73 south off the Pierre Laporte Bridge, heading towards Saint Georges de Beauce. Take exit 81 at Frampton. When you come to the turn off for highway 112, turn left at 112 east, and drive for about 10km until you get to Rang 2. Turn right on Rang 2 and keep going until you get to the Cabane’s private road where you turn right and go in for about 1 km.

Admission for adults is 23$ on weekdays and 26 $ on weekends. Kids age 2 and under get in free, whereas those aged 3-5 cost 6, 50$ and those 6-12 get in for 12, 50$ There’s entertainment for the kids on weekends between 1:00 and 3:00 P.M. and 4:30 and 6:30 P.M.

The meal itself is a sinfully-delicious combination of pancakes, baked beans, ham, sausage, omelettes, meat pies, all smothered in their delicious home made maple syrup. The live band is usually pretty entertaining, playing mostly French-Canadian folk tunes mixed with more popular stuff, interspersed with a DJ for when they want to take a break.

The building itself is an authentic Canadian-style log cabin with a nice warm wood fire in the middle of the building and long wooden tables, giving it something of a pioneer chow hall atmosphere. It takes about an hour and a half each way to get there and come back, so plan your trip accordingly, and book ahead of time, because it’s a popular spot for school groups.

So enjoy the upcoming maple syrup season, and instead of ‘taking off’ somewhere down south , why not stick around and go ‘sugaring off’ right here in Québec? You won’t be disappointed!
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Article and photo: Peter Stuart

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