What’s Available for Springtime Maple Syrup in Alberta
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 Alberta.
Like neighbouring British Columbia and Saskatchewan, the prairie climate of Alberta does not favour the growing of sugar maple trees or commercial maple syrup production. However, there are several Alberta festivals that celebrate French-Canadian culture (and maple syrup) that take place annually.
This yearly festival in Calgary, Alberta showcases the province’s rich Francophone, Metis and First Nations’ history, which includes maple syrup – a symbol of traditional French-Canadian culture. The two-day festival typically happens in early March and features food and drink, family-friendly exhibits and activities like wagon rides, and, of course, maple taffy on snow.
For the past 35 years, Bonnyville-Cold Lake, Alberta has played host to La Cabane à Sucre du Nord, also known as the Northern Sugar Shack, an annual celebration of French-Canadian culture, food, and traditions. The event, which is modelled after the Quebec Winter Carnival typically attracts around 500 visitors from the surrounding community, and features music, sleigh rides, and maple syrup-themed activities.
Muskoseepi Park in Grande Prairie, Alberta hosts the city’s annual Maple Sugar Festival/Festival de la Cabane à Sucre, which like similar events in the province celebrates all things French-Canadian with ample amounts of maple syrup. Although this event and others like it have been cancelled in recent years due to the pandemic, Albertans look forward to having them back up and running soon.
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