“Sugar Off” at Quebec’s Sucrerie de la Montagne Sugar Shack
By LAURA PELLERINE
Photo: Ryan Krochko
Maple syrup is more than a breakfast condiment to Quebecers—it’s a multimillion-dollar industry: 77 per cent of the world’s maple syrup is produced here, and when the sap starts flowing it means one thing: “sugaring off” season has begun.
We visited one of the province’s most popular sugar shacks, Sucrerie de la Montagne, less than an hour’s drive west of Montreal.
While there are hundreds of cabanes à sucre to choose from around Montreal, Sucrerie de la Montagne stands out: it is open year-round, sits on a designated Quebec Heritage Site, and if you’re feeling woozy from all the sugar, you can stay the night in one of their rustic log cabins with wood stoves and stone fireplaces.
Sucrerie de la Montagne is everything you’d imagine a sugar shack to be: surrounded by a 120-acre maple forest, with smoke billowing from the chimneys of the cabins and restored barns, silver pails hung on the side of trees, bread in the bakery made over an open fire, and hot maple taffy poured on snow—a popular treat with kids.
The staff on site are friendly (right down to the resident dog) and seem happy to talk about the Sucrerie’s history and traditions in French or English.
While here, you can take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, wander the nature trails, or learn how maple syrup is made, but what people come for is the food.
The smell of sausage cooking beckons you to enter the spacious open hall (which can seat up to 650), made cozy by oil lamps and a working fireplace, and when a crowd gathers, live musicians get you tapping your toes.
Try to get a taste of everything at the all-you-can-eat traditional sugaring-off feast: pea soup, maple-smoked ham, omelette soufflé, country-style sausages, meatball stew, fried pork rinds, mashed potatoes, meat pie, baked beans and crusty bread. For dessert there’s pancakes and sugar pie, all bathed in maple syrup.
Video: See more of the cabins and the food, from travel blogger Reb Stevenson
Afterwards, be sure to stop by the General Store gift shop where you can stock up on maple syrup, maple butter, cookies, handmade maple leaf jewellery, and even maple bubble bath. Or, if you’re still hungry, head back to the bakery and pick up maple-brushed cinnamon buns to go.
When to go: While Sucrerie de la Montagne is open year-round, typical “sugaring off” season runs between now until the end of April. Weekdays 11 am–close (last seating at 6 pm), weekends 10 am–close (last seating at 7 pm)
Admission: Includes sleigh ride, maple taffy and feast: Sat. 3 pm–Sun. 3 pm: $31 adult (ages 13 and up), $18 youth (ages 7–12), $12 child (ages 3–6). Weekdays and Sat. until 3 pm, Sun after 3 pm: $27 adult, $17 youth, $11 child.
Getting there: 300 Chemin St-Georges, CP 1540, Rigaud, QC J0P 1P0; 450-451-0831 [map] Just under a 1-hour drive west of Montreal and a 2-hour drive east of Ottawa
Les Quatre Feuilles 360 Rang de la Montagne, Rougemont; 800-263-3887 Just under a 1-hour drive east of Montreal
Cabane a Sucre Au Pied de Cochon For a bit of a twist, this gourmet experience takes traditional sugar shack dining to a new level; it’s so popular you’ll have to be placed on a waiting list. 11382 Rang de la Fresnière, St-Benoît; 450-258-1732 45-minute drive northwest of Montreal
Les Delices d’Érables In Montreal’s Old Port neighbourhood, Les Delices d’Érables makes and sells a variety of maple-infused treats (croissants, cookies, gelato and cappuccino), and has a huge range of maple syrup. There’s also a mini museum dedicated to the whole process. 84 Rue Saint-Paul E., Montreal; 514-765-3456 Start the slideshow.