Sunday, March 13, 2011

March Break Fun Part II: Maple Syrup Festival

Today was Part II of our March Break Weekend. Given we had the time change last night, and then I slept in on top of that, I'm surprised we managed to do anything. But we did. In spite of my not getting out of bed until 11am (new time), we made it to Bruce's Mill for the Maple Syrup Festival by 1:30. And we even managed to stop at Timmie's on the way for a large steeped tea (me) and a vanilla dip (aka "sprinkle") doughnut (Little Boo).

This Maple Syrup Festival is something we used to bring the Teenager to when he was younger. Little Boo was there as an infant, but we haven't been there since, so this is his first real trip. He was pretty excited.

First stop - the pony rides. These ponies are attached to a central pole and just walk around in a big circle, kind of like a live carousel. $5 a ride. He giggled and grinned the whole time. (Check out the mud. It was really messy there today. One of the horses was particularly unimpressed and wouldn't start walking at first.)

Next was the wagon ride.  Little Boo really enjoyed it, but it's not the best ride I've done. It is a short trip down a trail through the woods and back. No commentary. But the feel of the wagon and the sounds of the horses bells and their whinnies is pretty cool. Plus, we just missed fitting on one ride, so we were first on this one and got to sit right up at the front. Cool. (The wagon ride is free.)

The wagon ride dropped us off just as a guided tour was beginning. We did start following that tour, where a guide was describing methods of tapping the trees and collecting sap, educating us on the different types of trees in the forest, etc. It is a good tour, but a 5 year-old has a little too much energy to work at that pace, so we took off on our own.  The maple syrup trail has interpretive plaques to explain the process and displays. Different historical methods of syrup production are depicted in the displays, and interpreters are there to answer questions.
Tried putting him to work, but it didn't quite work out.

Learning about pioneer methods of boiling down the sap.
mmmm. Samples of maple syrup available for testing. Little Boo scammed 3. It's good to be cute.

After walking the trail, we visited the sugar shack to see the big machine used for the modern method of boiling down the sap. Which is conveniently attached to the gift shop. We got a 4 litre jug of Ontario maple syrup to take home, along with a bottle of maple sugar, some maple syrup coated popcorn, maple sugar candies and chocolates, and a maple syrup lollipop for Little Boo. It was shaped like a maple leaf of course, and he was delighted.

Major sugar high.

The final stop was the petting farm. They have chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, a donkey and a llama (or alpaca? I dunno)

Although we didn't go in, there is of course a pancake house as well, where you can get some refreshments and warm up over a plate of pancakes and syrup.

It's all pretty neat. Plus, it's a nice walk in the woods, and I do so love to be outdoors. There are campfires burning in a few spots, and we both smelled wonderfully of those when we left.

Bruce's Mill Conservation Area is located at 3291 Stouffville Rd, in Stouffville. Just head east on Stouffville Rd off the 404. The Maple Sugar Festival runs until April 10. Admission is $9 for adults, $6.50 for kids 5 and over, seniors and students. The wee ones are free! Parking at Bruce's Mill is free. They are open every day during March Break, 9:30-4:30, and after that will be open Wed-Sun through April 10.


  1. I'm looking forward to our Maple Sugar festival too. Ours starts the last weekend of this month. Can't wait!

  2. Super! They are a fun thing to do with the kids. I definitely missed going to this the last couple of years.

  3. Aww...looks like it was a great time. Sorry I never responded as to whether or not we were coming. :( It was a crazy day filled with a migraine. Yeeha!

  4. That looks like so much fun! No maple syrup around here - I'm jealous!


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