Can you feel it, that beautiful essence of spring in the air? The smell of the earth coming to life again after a long winter’s nap? The sun’s heat can actually be felt again as outdoor life returns for so many. One of the greatest and most traditional ways of celebrating that feeling is with the indulgence of maple syrup. Its taste alone is the epitome of being Canadian. Maple trees can be found from coast to coast in every province so it’s only fitting that the leaf is the number one symbol for this incredible country that we call home. There are ten species of maple trees and every single one of them produces sweet, delicious sap that is used to make the most sublime golden nectar that we call Maple Syrup.
Maple syrup was originally discovered and valued by the indigenous people of the Eastern Woodlands long before the arrival of European settlers. Haudenosaunee tradition tells of the piercing of the bark of a maple and the use of its “sweet water” to cook venison, a happy accident that might have also established the culinary technique of maple-cured meats. Maple curing was a food preservation method practised by the Anishinaabe that allowed communities to keep food stores for winter months when food was scarce. They called it the “sugaring off” period when sap was collected the “maple moon” or “sugar month.” The tradition of sugaring off became established in communities in the deciduous forests of North America and has survived to the present.
Today, Canada provides more than 71 percent of the world’s production of maple syrup and exports over 61million kg of maple products annually. Having an abundance of trace minerals like potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, zinc, copper, tin, and calcium, makes maple syrup not only essential to good nutrition but also a healthy natural sweetener. If you’d like to satisfy your sweet tooth while celebrating one of Canada’s largest trademarks, check out these maple sugar bushes, all located right here in the Niagara Region:
Established in1937 and located in the Effingham region of St. Catharines, White Meadow Farms is an early spring destination for many just coming out of a long winter’s hibernation.
Whether you live in the area or are just visiting, this sugar bush farm provides the perfect excuse to get back outside and enjoy a little nature. They offer bush treks that never disappoint. An expert guide will take you on a 10 minute “Sugar Shuttle” through the meadow followed by an interactive 45-minute walking tour where you will learn all about Maple trees, Native & Pioneer camps and so much more!
Our favourite part of the tour is the taffy on the snow. This is where they heat the maple syrup in a cast iron pot over an open flame and watch it transform into warm, gooey taffy. It’s then transferred to a stick and hardened in the snow to make the most delicious treat you can imagine!
After the tour, be sure to take some time to explore the rest of the forest, tap a tree, measure your wingspan, or meander through the sap line maze. Don’t forget to take a branded log coin with you and be sure to stop into the “Sugar Shack” and watch the sugar makers boiling sap into maple syrup!
For the ultimate sugar bush experience, book your campout lunch right in the forest and taste their maple syrup in action. You’ll start with a warm cup of maple tea or hot chocolate, while nibbling on a little charcuterie and followed by three delectable courses with your choice of Maple Beef & Chocolate Stew, Maple Turkey, or Bacon Chili Maple Baked Beans.
Whether you are visiting White Meadows Farms alone, with family or on an organized tour, you are promised a day of fun in the fresh air and a sample of Canada’s most treasured treat!
Another must visit on the maple syrup tour is Agape Valley located in Ridgeville. Agape means the highest form of love and you are going to love this place!
The journey starts with a free hayride with your family or group into the sugarbush followed by a guided tour through the forest where you’ll learn how the collection of sap has evolved over the years and how it’s transformed into delicious maple syrup.
The last part of your tour is always a sugarbush favourite – maple taffy! And to end your visit on the sweetest note possible, visit the Pancake House and enjoy some fluffy pancakes and sausage all smothered in 100% pure maple syrup made right on the property. You can also make a stop in the store and pick out some maple treats or honey (which is also produced on the property) to take home!
In the spring of 1996, the Agape Valley Sugar Bush officially opened its gates for its first Sugar Bush and Pancake House which was a great success. The number of “taps” has increased from 300 to 1800 over the years, making use of almost every sugar maple on the property. The honey operation has also continued to grow and expand, increasing from 10 hives to 50.
Agape Valley also offers camps and a full array of events year-round. For more information and registration, check out their website here.
The amazing things to see and do around the Niagara Region are only some of the reasons that makes McGarr Realty so proud to call it home. Let us show you more and help you find your next home, so you can start enjoying everything this beautiful area has to offer!