It’s that sweet time of the year! Local maple syrup producers have been prepping for weeks, and now, the sap is running. Hitting the sugar bush is the first harbinger of spring, and after a long, cold, COVID winter, it’s a lot of fun to visit a local ‘sugar shack’, take in an Ontario Maple Syrup Festival, or just purchase some of the delicious, sticky stuff on-line or in-store.
The season is brief, usually lasting from early March to mid or late April. And making maple syrup making is hard work. Although the essence is simple: collect sap from maple trees and reduce or “boil down” the sap to make syrup, the process requires about 40 litres of sap to make a litre of syrup. Hence, the term “pure” maple syrup. Liquid Canadian gold.
There are roughly a dozen major operations in Hastings County, as well as many small, backyard producers. Some use the traditional spile and bucket collection, while others rely on sophisticated vacuum systems, plastic tubing, reverse osmosis, and state-of-the-art evaporators. No matter the method, maple syrup and its derivatives – from taffy, candy, butter, cheese, candles, and soaps – are simply sweet.
Here’s how to discover your SWEET SPOT in Hastings County:
Mark the calendar for Saturday, March 19.
Spend a day the old-fashioned way at O’Hara’s Sugar Bush.
Trillium Ridge Sugarworks
Trillium Ridge Sugarworks or “Mah-kwan dakeek” owned and operated by Terry & Vickie Gervais has been producing maple syrup for over 40 years. Vickie is originally from the Wolastoqey First Nations in New Brunswick, so their Indigenous connection to maple syrup’s non-colonial roots and their connections with Tyendinega schools is noteworthy.
Enjoy a homemade pancake brunch, served every Saturday in March until the end of April. They welcome both small and larger group tours.
2022: Open for pancakes, tours, and maple syrup pickup, 9am-3pm, starting March 12th to April 3rd. Reservations are required for the pancake brunch.
Address: 254 Maple Sugar Rd, North Tyendinaga
Palmateer Farms Maple Sugar Bush
Palmateer Farms have been tapping trees for three generations. Steven, and his father, Larry, now tap about 5,000 trees annually and they love hosting horse-drawn tours of the bush, school tours and pancake breakfasts. Visit their Facebook page for updates, or order click the link to order on-line.
2022: Open Saturday and Sunday, 10am-3pm
Address: 1427 Crookston Road, Tweed, ON
O’Hara Sugar Maples
O’Hara Sugar Maples, owned by Stephan and heather Needham, have been producing the sweet stuff for more than 25 years. They offer a wide range of products; you can purchase their Maple Barbecue Sauce at select, local Metro stores, or visit their Facebook page in the link above.
Address: 871 Harts Road, Madoc, ON
Pure Local 62 – Yearwood Family Sugarbush
Pure Local 62, located south of Madoc, is a relatively new venture. Jeremy & Crystal started their operation in 2017 and now tap about 1800 trees. During COVID, their on-line sales increased significantly, which Jeremy credits to the “many local people who support us through alliances and partnerships.” You can book a tour on-line via the link above, or check out their Facebook page.
2022: Open Monday – Sunday, 9am-6pm
Address:12099 Hwy-62, Madoc, ON
There are many other maple syrup producers in Hastings County.
The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association (OMSPA) lists 600 Ontario sugar makers; these are the ones listed for Hastings County. Click on the links for more info.
- Briarwood Acres – Corbyville, owned by Douglas G. Stevenson
- Crago’s Sugar Bush– Stirling, owned by Paul Crago
- Drop’N Bucket Maple Products– Tweed, owned by Ed & Betty Tidman
- McEwen Maple– Eldorado, owned by Allen & Gloria Bursey
- Paradise Maple Products -Bancroft, owned by Jody Peters
Harvest Hastings also lists several local producers:
- Lavender Family Maple Goodness – L’Amable, owned by Cameron & Tanya Lavender
- Three Maples Sugar Camp – Madoc, owned by harry B. Dennis
- Robinson Family Farms – Eldorado, owned by Charles & Bonnie Robinson