PODCAST: Going to the sugar shack – a true Canadian experience

PODCAST: Going to the sugar shack – a true Canadian experience

This is a recording of an article on a popular sugar shack in Quebec, Canada.

The article, written by Sarah Williams, is narrated here by Rosanna Haroutounian.
It first appeared in the March 2013 issue of Life in Québec Magazine.

Life in Quebec Magazine is a lifestyle publication covering the Quebec region and is currently published at least 3 times per year.  Subscribers have their copies mailed directly to them.

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Article by Sarah Williams

It’s an important cultural icon in Quebec which is not completely foreign to me; growing up in Ontario, however, we referred to it as the “sugar shack” and not the “cabane à sucre”.  Besides the language difference though, there are a lot of similarities between the sugar shack of Ontario and the cabane à sucre of Quebec.  Typically, they are small, rustic cabins located in a forest composed primarily of sugar maples. The traditional method for harvesting the “eau d’érable”, or raw sap, from these trees is also essentially the same: spigots made of wood or metal are hammered into the tree, and then buckets are hung from these “taps” to catch the dripping sap. It used to be that the sap was collected by a horse drawn sleigh and reservoir, and then brought back to the shack to be boiled down to syrup.

According to the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, this province is responsible for 70-80% of the world’s maple syrup production, and is also home to the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve. In 2012, the public became aware of just how large a stockpile the strategic reserve holds, when it was reported that thieves had absconded with around 10 million pounds of “liquid gold” from a warehouse in St-Louis-de-Blandford; a cache representing a market value of 30 million dollars. Suddenly there was talk of a maple syrup shortage, and fear that prices would sky rocket. I know I considered stocking up on a few extra cans, just in case the culprits were never found. Yes, indeed: big business!

If you are a tried and true urbanite, and a trek into the woods doesn’t appeal to you, there is a way to get a taste of the cabane à sucre experience, without leaving the city limits.  In its tenth year, located in the maple forest of the Bois-de-Coulonge in Sillery, the Cabane à sucre du parc offers up an enjoyable day out and a festive atmosphere. There, you can tour a real, working sugar shack, complete with sap bubbling and steaming away in the pans, and you can get your sweet fix either by taste testing the taffy on snow, or purchasing some maple butter or syrup. This is as authentic as it gets, without being obliged to drive 20 minutes or so outside Quebec City.

As the winter is long, cold and grey here, a visit to the cabane à sucre is just the thing to help warm your spirit, and get you through the final stretch before the signs of spring start appearing.

Read the original article in full Quebec sugar shack


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About Author

Rosanna Haroutounian

Rosanna Haroutounian was raised in Mississauga, Ontario, and studied journalism and political science at Carleton University. She currently works as an English assistant at a college in Quebec City. She enjoys reading, baking, being outdoors, and travelling the world when time and finances allow.

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