NotrePatrimoine

A tradition rich in history

A sugar shack is much more than just a friendly place to indulge in the many joys of maple syrup. It’s also the storehouse of a rich tradition going back millennia.

Long before the arrival of the first European colonists, the people of this land knew the sugar maple’s secret. One legend attributes the discovery of maple syrup to an Iroquois chief by the name of Woksis. Having planted his hatchet in the trunk of a maple tree, he and his wife discovered that the sap of the tree had a delicately sweet taste. The kind of taste that keeps you coming back. Before long, maple syrup had spread to many First Nations and become an important activity. Every spring entire villages would set up in the woods to tap maple trees. The sugaring-off season was hard work, but it was also a time of rejoicing. Popular belief had it that dancing when a tree was tapped would help the sap flow.

The birth of the sugar shack

Europeans were introduced to this age-old know-how early in the colonization period. Over time, the methods for turning sap into syrup were refined. For decades, giant outdoor cast-iron cauldrons were used for boiling sap. Then came the idea of building a shelter for protection from the weather. Voilà—the first sugar shack!

From then to now

Bit by bit an agrotourism industry grew up around this precious resource. Today, only a tiny minority of Québec’s maple-syrup producers serve sugar shack dinners. The local tradition that brings us together every year is kept alive by some 200 sugar bushes.

The effect on our industry is that at this point close to 14% of those 200 sugar shacks have ceased agrotourism operations. Many are planning to rebuild to concentrate exclusively on maple-syrup production. Others have resolved to shutter their operations or try to unload their sugar shacks for whatever they can get. In the midst of it all, those who are joining the “Ma cabane à la maison” joint initiative see it as a breath of hope.

By the numbers

200

sugar shacks tasked with upholding the tradition.

14%

of them have ceased agrotourism operations in the last year.

85%

of the world’s maple-syrup production is done in Québec.

Proud Owners

Discover the faces behind your local sugar shacks.

Érablière Charbonneau

Mont Saint-Grégoire

Mélanie Charbonneau has always known she’d be in the maple syrup industry. “In 2004 my husband Alexandre and I discovered we had maple syrup in our blood. We truly found our passion!” It’s a passion that comes out in every tasty dish they cook up and serve to guests with love, like their renowned maple coulis and that irresistible sugar pie. But Érablière Charbonneau gives you much more than a sugar-shack dinner to fill up on—their incredibly beautiful location and down-home atmosphere alone are worth the trip.

Chalet des Érables

Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines

For Chantal Lampron and Daniel Laurin, co-owners of this beautiful big sugar bush now nearly 70 years old, their 300 employees are part of the family. “Our crêpes frisées are the best! And our sugar shack is lots of fun too, for kids and grownups alike.” The general store, the antique-car rides, the bumper cars, the mechanical bull, the petting zoo— you’ll wish you could spend the week! As Chantal and Daniel wait for life to return to their sugar shack, they’re thrilled about this wave of love and community. “It’s great how we’ve come together to overcome adversity.”

La Goudrelle et La Grillade

Mont Saint-Grégoire et Saint-Alphonse de Granby

What do La Goudrelle and La Grillade have in common? The Gingras family! They’ve had maple syrup on their mind for four generations. Every year the two sugar bushes, pull in people from all over craving a taste of sweetness and the great outdoors. “The people who come to La Goudrelle are wild about our crêpes soufflées and maple butter. Not to mention our magnificent mountain trails,” says Luc Gringras. Guests over at La Grillade, on the other hand, are over the moon about the buffet, maple pulled pork, and vegan selections. “This year, we’re inviting ourselves over. We think of you every day, and we’re totally on for 2022,” he says.

La P’tite cabane d’la côte

Mirabel

“The maple syrup tradition is precious to us. It’s like our roots and the maple tree roots are one and the same.” Wise words of Simon Bernard, proud owner of La P’tite cabane d’la côte. This lucky kid grew up in a maple wonderland and took over the family business a dozen years ago. The maple water harvest, the live music, the delicious traditional recipes cooked before your very eyes—there’s something magical about having a great old time in their fabulous wooden barn. Their moto: “Swingue la bacaisse dans l’fond d’la boîte à bois!” or (very) roughly “It’s party time, so come dance!”

Cabane à sucre Au Pied de l'Érable

Mirabel

They say the sap doesn’t run far from the tree. Carole and Daniel were born into a sugar bush family and passed on their love of maple syrup to their son Étienne. Today, together with Étienne and his wife Nathalie, they own Au pied de l’érable Sugar Shack. The lucky guests of their sugar bush are welcomed like family. As for the food: their maple mousse, omelette soufflée, and pulled pork are loved by all and sundry. “Though I suppose you could say that about all our dishes!” admits Carole.

Sucrerie de la Montagne

Rigaud

Behind this magnificent heritage sugar shack are Pierre Faucher and his son Stefan. They’re on a mission to uphold the authentic Québec tradition. Mission accomplished! Nestled in the heart of a centuries-old maple forest, Sucrerie de la Montagne offers its guests an authentic trip to the past. It’s a place where maple sap is collected the way it used to be, then turned into syrup with a traditional wood-burning evaporator. “Despite the challenges, we welcome this totally different season with open arms, because we’re a family,” says Pierre into his salt-and-pepper beard.

Au Sentier de l'Érable

Sainte-Julienne

Josée Majeau and Gabriel St-Jean have always shared an unflagging love for maple syrup. In 2008, the couple acquired a big, beautiful sugar shack that was already a local tradition. Here, everything is homemade, and the eggs in syrup are all-you-can-eat. “People want seconds, and thirds—they’re the best!” You won’t get that anywhere else,” says Josée. The owners miss the lively weekends, but they know the quiet is only temporary. In the meantime, they’re thrilled with the sense of community they’ve found among participating sugar shacks. “It’s a beautiful thing!” says Gabriel.

Domaine de l'Artisan

Brigham

Your search is over—you’ve found where they make the best maple syrup doughnuts. Since 1997, Michel Thibodeau and his team have been drawing maple syrup fans to his big, beautiful estate in the heart of the Eastern Townships. After a hearty homemade meal, young and old alike can set out to explore the estate’s trails, where nature is revealed in all its splendour. Last year brought its share of challenges, but Michel Thibodeau is excited about serving his faithful customers in a new way. “We even have some delicious new dishes for them,” he says.

Érablière Meunier & fils

Richelieu

For Philippe Meunier, for pork and beans is like a birthright. From his maple producer father, he learned the ins and outs of the trade growing up. He hit the Hospitality and Tourism Institute, picked up a bachelor’s degree, and returned to the fold with real business acumen. So his father, Raymond passed the torch. While his brother Éric took over the farm, Philippe took charge of the sugar bush. “My father worked so hard to get the business off the ground. It’s a family passion, and we’re not giving up. Our hope in fact is to hand it down to our three kids one day,” says Philippe.

Érablière aux Quatre Vents

Mirabel

Marie-Ève Plouffe is the mother of four terrific kids and proud owner of Érablière aux Quatre Vents. She knows how to handle adversity. There was a time in her father’s sugar shack when she was barely old enough to walk, and here she is today in her eleventh season as owner. Her eyes light up when she talks about her maple ham and brie, or the magical ambience in her dining hall. “It’s important for us for guests to feel special. They shouldn’t be rushed. Every customer gets the royal treatment. People can bring their own drinks, warm up by the fire, or step out for a breath of fresh air whenever they feel like it.” As she waits for things to return to normal, Marie-Ève is philosophical. “For me, it’s a chance to accomplish something new. I love what I do!”

L'aKabane

Saint-Esprit

In 2015 Richard Maheux and Frédéric Paiement acquired L’aKabane, a charming sugar bush with three big reception halls. There’s a lot of attention paid here to detail and presentation. “We have real chefs in our kitchen. Our gourmet menu is in a class by itself, like our syrup,” says Frédéric proudly. If you’re one of the people missing the great way they cook up a taste of Québec, you’re not going to be disappointed this year. “Now we’re just a click away,” he says. “Same high quality, same great taste!”

Cabane à sucre Constantin Grégoire

Saint-Esprit

Constantin Grégoire sugar shack has been around for ages, to the delight of the Grégoire family’s swarms of children. It wasn’t till 1970 that Constantin Grégoire—patriarch, veteran farmer, and visionary entrepreneur—decided to open to the public. His wife Claire manned the oven and the family’s fourteen brothers and sisters stepped in to organize maple sugar parties. A whole team of employees in a single family! Nestled in the beautiful setting of an ancestral sugar bush in the heart of picturesque farm country, the sugar shack is known for its authenticity, warm hospitality, and great traditional home cooking. “With us you get a big, beautiful, authentic wood house with red-and-white checked tablecloths on tables laden with homemade traditional family dishes,” says Claire proudly. The house speciality is oreilles de crisse (crispy pork rinds), courtesy of Aunt Didi!

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