Best sugar shack experiences in southwestern Ontario
There’s nothing more quintessentially Canadian than a visit to a sugar shack! The sweet smell of bubbling maple sap and hot pancakes with real maple syrup evokes childhood memories. For many, it is an annual tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Maple syrup can be traced back to the 1600s when Indigenous peoples tapped the trees and boiled the sap into sugar. It comes from the sap of sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees. Due to our weather, Canada produces between 80 and 85 per cent of the world’s supply, with most of it coming from Quebec. The season takes place between February and April.
How does sap form?
As the trees grow, they convert starch into sugar to create sap. When it begins to warm up in the spring, the sap comes up from the tree roots, flowing upward toward the leaves. Maple trees are tapped in early spring when the daytime temperatures are above freezing and the nights are still below freezing.
When the weather is cold, the sap is slower. On warmer days, containers must be checked frequently because the sap flows faster and they will fill up quicker.
Fun facts about maple syrup
- It takes 40 litres of sap to make one litre of syrup;
- Pure maple syrup is very healthy and contains many antioxidant compounds;
- The unique flavour is the perfect addition to baked goods or savoury dishes. An all-natural sweetener, it can be used as a healthy sugar alternative when cooking or baking. Check out some great recipes here. If you're interested in baking, check out Fanshawe's Baking and Pastry Arts Management program!
Get out and enjoy the spring weather with a visit to one of these local sugar shacks:
McLachlan Syrup – Komoka, Ontario
Jakeman’s Maple Farm – Beachville, Ontario
Palmer’s Maple Syrup – Port Stanley, Ontario
Chambers Maple Shop – Waterford, Ontario
Our Sugar Bush – Staffordville, Ontario
Check out the Fanshawe Annual magazine to read about research taking place into a natural occurrence during the maple syrup season called "buddy off-flavour", and how Fanshawe graduate Jose Torres Garcia (Honours Bachelor of Applied Biotechnology 2019) got involved.