Ready or not, maple syrup fever has taken over Quebec. With the arrival of spring, families wear their checkered red shirts as they drive cheerfully to rustic sugar shacks to feast on rather rich foods such as spiced sausages, sticky baked beans, fluffy omelettes and pig lard c crispy ears — the whole generously layered with coats of golden sugary maple syrup.

After singing, dancing and maybe taking a quart of milk or two, everybody rushes outside to take a ride on the horse drawn carriage or visit the boiler room where you are handed a Popsicle stick  which upon reception, young and old delight in rolling their own hardened taffy or “tire” from the boiling-hot syrup poured onto packed snow,

A visit to the sugar bush is a must try experience for families and is a much needed break from the humdrum of winter. Music and merriment is synonymous with the experience, as family and friends share food and stories over the long tables. Several locations offer interesting activities including sleigh rides, maple collection tours, petting farms and outdoor play areas for children.

Below are a samplings of three amazing sugar bushes that offer family-friendly activities and that aren’t too far from Montreal.


La p’tite cabane d’la côte (Mirabel)

5855, Rte Arthur-Sauvé

An intimate family atmosphere, with authentic homemade recipes and food.

Owned by young entrepreneur Simon Bernard and his wife, this location is the ultimate rustic, authentic cabane a sucre experience. Located in Mirabel, about a 40-minute drive west from the city by auto-route 15, this sugar shack has three eating areas where they serve an elaborate traditional meal served in cast iron pots on long wooden tables. Among their decadent menu items are their signature pea soup and soufflé omelette with miniature meat pies!

Traditional music is played on the overhead radio and live folkloric Quebecois music is on offer by David Boulanger & Jean-François Gagnon-Branchaud on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

Children can watch how sugar taffy is made and then join their families to enjoy a Belgian horse sleigh ride for an additional fee of 3$.

They can also pet the numerous friendly farm animals that include rabbits, sheep and a llama and stroll through the maple forest.

There is also a small maple gift shop where people can purchase various locally made maple and wood carved products.

Reservations by phone only (450) 258-2467

For more information : http://petite-cabane.com/


Cabane à sucre Lalande (St-Eustache)

862 Montée Laurin, Saint-Eustache

Larger grounds and more commercial setting with a good atmosphere and musical activities for young children.

Since 1913, this family run sugar shack has been the ideal location for larger families, corporate groups and special occasions. Victim of an accidental fire which destroyed most of the premises, the main banquet hall has been fully restored in 2015 to its full glory and now offers a hefty, standard sugary meal with live entertainers & full tours of their maple syrup production.

With over 1000 maples this large sugar shack is situated 30 minutes from Montreal and is on a site where three generations of maple syrup producers lived before it passed in the hands of Claude Charbonneau who is often on premise and is more than happy to share his knowledge of the history of the sugar shack. The premise offers a bountiful standard meal with live music provided (nice for the little ones who might want to get up and dance).

Sugar taffy is offered after the meal,  kids can visit the animals in the back farm and families can take a sleigh ride for an additional cost that brings you through the maple forest. There is also an extensive gift shop that sells pastries and various maple syrup products.

Schedule: March to late April, Monday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Restaurant open year-round with reservations. Maple products boutique open year-round, Monday to Saturday

For more information:  1-888-682-3357

http://www.lalande.ca/


La cabane a sucre Handfield (St-Marc-sur-Richelieu)

190 Rang des Soixante

Great for their warm family atmosphere, vegan and vegetarian menu and quality food.

Only 30 minutes South from Montreal, the Handfield sugar shack boasts a charming, rustic, non-commercial setting that offers a traditional Québec menu throughout February,  March and April. Young and old will enjoy their delicious traditional meal that includes tender, thick sliced ham, meatballs, sausages, potatoes, baked beans and croutons. Be sure to leave room for their sugar pie!

The restaurant is also vegans and vegetarian friendly with a menu that offers marinated tofu, beans, lentil pate, steamed potato and perfectly done polenta. Beets, pickles and homemade ketchup can be enjoyed by all before heading outside to sample the delicious taffy,  take a relaxing stroll along the very lush maple forest or pay a visit to their fully stocked gift store :

The Handfield estate also boasts 25 guest rooms and a nearby thermal spa!

If you are looking for a fun, non-commercial setting with extra amenities, this is the place.

For more information:

(450) 258-2467

http://petite-cabane.com/