Spring in Canada means warmer weather is finally on the way, bringing with it the opportunity for outdoor activities that don’t always require a parka or snow boots!
For many Canadians, springtime isn’t just about blooming flowers and budding trees, it’s synonymous with one thing: maple syrup.The process of collecting maple sap and boiling it to create the sticky, sweet syrup was practiced by Indigenous peoples for centuries before the arrival of European settlers. By the 1850s, maple sap harvesting had transformed from small-scale agriculture to a thriving industry in North America, and today maple syrup is considered as quintessentially Canadian as poutine or hockey.
The spring maple syrup harvest is big business in the eastern half of Canada – from Nova Scotia to Manitoba – and if you live in any of these provinces a trip to your local maple syrup farm or sugar shack is a wonderful (and delicious) way for people of all ages to get outside after the long winter.
In the western provinces, there are many festivals that celebrate maple syrup and its history – and even some intrepid farmers attempting to defy both a landscape and climate that make syrup production difficult.
Here is a list of some of the best maple syrup farms, sugar shacks, and festivals in Nova Scotia.
Ross Farm Museum in New Ross, Nova Scotia (about an hour west of Halifax) is a living heritage farm – a family friendly window into the agricultural history of the region. See how people lived, worked, and farmed the land in the 1800s, from the fields that are still farmed with live oxen, to the working blacksmith, mill, and cooperage (barrel making workshop). Every March, the farm museum holds a maple syrup weekend called "The Wonders of Maple Syrup" where visitors can learn about the process of tapping trees to collect sap and making syrup. Pancakes included!
Open year round, Sugar Moon Farm near Truro, Nova Scotia features a shop, restaurant, and over 30 kilometres of hiking trails for visitors to get the complete maple syrup experience – weather permitting. During the mid-February to mid-April “Sugar Season” visitors can rent snowshoes to get a firsthand look at how maple syrup is produced, then warm up back at the farm’s restaurant and enjoy a wide variety of maple-themed cuisine.
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