With snowshoes providing solid footing, Tom Shaw was traipsing through his Oro-Medonte Township acreage last week, drilling metal spigots into the 4,000 maple trees that will, in a matter of weeks, produce about 160,000 litres of sap – that magnificent watery liquid needed to create mouth-watering maple syrup.
“We have been tapping trees in this forest since 1904 and many of those original trees are still producing liquid gold today,” said Shaw. “We have multiple generations of customers who come out to visit us each year … because we offer a family atmosphere where you can experience a tradition that is unique to this part of the world.”
Shaw’s Maple Syrup Bush, located on Line 14 just a few minutes south of Orillia, lies in the heart of Ontario’s Lake Country where the promise of spring means the advent of a season of sweetness – and an opportunity to Tap Into Maple!
One of the best ways to Tap Into Maple in Ontario’s Lake Country is with our specially-designed self-driving routes that will allow you to experience first-hand our maple-infused history and sample our mouth-watering maple cuisine at unique local attractions like Shaw’s. (https://orillialakecountry.ca/tap-into-maple-route-stops/ ) This year, we are offering an array of money-saving coupons that you can use at various attractions and events. (https://orillialakecountry.ca/tap-into-maple-coupons/ )
Through mid-April, Shaw’s Pancake House serves up fluffy pancakes and sausage that generations have enjoyed smothered in fresh, delicious maple syrup. On weekends, you can take a horse-drawn wagon ride through their trails and, if the weather’s just right, you can watch – and smell – the sweet sap being boiled and transformed into that golden nectar everyone loves.
Another route will take you to The FarmGate in Brechin where, if you see steam rising and smell sweetness in the air, it means the Harringtons are hard at work producing maple syrup or their popular artisan soaps. Stop in and see the outdoor wood-fired evaporator at work and learn how maple syrup is made.
You can also Tap Into Maple at Hewitt’s Farm Market and Bakery on Townline in Severn Township. The family enterprise started with two retail stands and developed into the extensive market and bakery that exists today. You are welcome to tour their Sugar Shack and visit their bakery where maple is used to give flavour to baked items, barbecue sauces, candles, soaps, fudge, coffee, candies and more. On April 8, they will host their popular annual pancake breakfast.
A trip to Midland’s Wye Marsh (https://orillialakecountry.ca/tap-into-maple-route-stops/ ) is also an experience you won’t soon forget as you can learn about the cultural and natural uses of maple syrup during their special sweetwater programs from March 11 to April 9 that include Sugar Shack tours.
If Wye Marsh is on your itinerary, why not make a side-trip to Everything Maple & More, (1957 Gervais Rd., Waubaushene) a producer of gourmet maple products. They combine maple syrup with only the finest and freshest ingredients to create more than 180 all-natural, premium, maple-based products. Stop by their retail store to learn about their business and try some samples.
In Downtown Orillia, at Apple Annie’s, located in the bottom floor of the iconic Mariposa Market, you can enjoy a mouthwatering sample of fresh, creamy maple fudge and a variety of maple products – syrup, candy, maple butter, preserves and sauces made with maple.
Numerous spring festivals in Ontario’s Lake Country celebrate maple syrup. (https://orillialakecountry.ca/tap-into-maple-events/ ) For example, Wye Marsh hosts its popular Sweetwater Harvest Festival, March 25-26. The Orillia Fairgrounds Farmers’ Market has a Maple Kick-off event March 4 where local maple syrup producers will over tastings of maple sap and visitors have a chance to win a maple-themed gift basket. On March 25, the Orillia Farmers’ Market, located at the Orillia Public Library, hosts Maple Day, where you can discover delicious ways to enjoy maple through foods found at the market.
The Orillia Museum of Art and History is offering a March Maple Madness Family Fun Drop-in Event March 26 from 2 to 3 p.m. Families are invited to stop in for a sweet Sunday afternoon art activity inspired by Tap Into Maple.
On April 22 at Grant’s Woods, local naturalist David Hawke will lead a guided hike and provide information about the forest and maple trees. Registration is required for the hikes, slated to start at 10:30 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. Call 705-326-1620 or visit couchconservancy.ca for information.
Even restaurants and local accommodations are tapping into the flavor of maple. Many local eateries will offer special maple-inspired dishes. Several of the restaurants at Casino Rama, for example, will have maple-infused choices while their Balance in Life Spa will offer a maple body scrub and petite pedicure for a discounted price during midweek days.
Casino Rama (https://orillialakecountry.ca/event-pro/casino-getaway-for-two/), Forks in the Trail (https://orillialakecountry.ca/event-pro/one-night-maple-tour/ ) and Bayview Wildwood Resort (https://orillialakecountry.ca/event-pro/maple-infused-family-package/ ) offer special Tap Into Maple packages for those who want to stay in Ontario’s Lake Country while reveling in the sweetest season on the calendar.
Bring your sweet tooth and Tap Into Maple in Ontario’s Lake Country!