This past weekend my family made a day trip out to Wheeler’s Maple Sugar Bush in Lanark. My brother Kurt’s girlfriend, Anna, is from Toronto and had never been to a sugar bush. It turns out that Rob had never been either! I guess growing up in Ottawa we just take it for granted that it’s a common spring pastime to visit a sugar bush for some pancakes, real maple syrup, and taffy on the snow. We’re in prime maple syrup season now. The sap runs when it’s just a few degrees above freezing and still gets cold (but not too cold) at night.
Anna wanted to come to Ottawa to experience it all, and so my parents organized a visit to Wheeler’s Maple, which is a pancake house, sugar camp, and museum all in one. I don’t know if they do weddings here (there’s nothing on their website) but holy moly the place would be perfect. So if you like log cabins and want wedding photos in the woods, let me know and we’ll convince them together!
The place was packed on Saturday. The weather was nice and sunny and not too cold, and it was the start of spring break week, so that was to be expected. We started our visit by checking out the big teepee and museum, which has a Guinness World Record for the biggest maple syrup artifact collection.
I loved all the old buckets on display! Anna was pretty disappointed that sap is now collected in hoses. While it’s more efficient and sanitary, I agree that it doesn’t look quite as pretty (though it’s definitely impressive to see the hose networks through the woods). On our drive back to my parents house we pointed out a few buckets on private properties. Now my dad wants to tap a couple of their trees!
The most giant collections of chainsaws ever. This was about 1/4 of what they had on display. It was super cold in the museum buildings, but we walked around and saw their collection of old farming and maple syrup tools.
Then there were the horses and alpacas! Obviously they’re used to being fed by visitors as they were very friendly.
Finally it was pancake time! We timed our visit to eat around 2pm to avoid the rush (they close the dining hall at 3pm). We went into the dining hall and put our names on the list before visiting the museum chainsaw museum and horses, and they called it right when we got back. The hall is gorgeous! It’s made with white oak and hickory and has a ton of natural light.
Patiently waiting for our order of pancakes, French toast, sausage, and baked beans. Everyone on this side of the table needs some practice smiling! It’s like photographing 3-years-olds who’ve just discovered how to smile on demand but are terrible at it!
Not much better….
And they arrived! The pancakes and French toast were amazing. This was probably also the best real maple syrup I’ve ever tasted. I often find it’s too dark/strongly flavoured, but this was nice and light and delicious. We went through an entire bottle at our table! The breakfast sausages were great and tasted like spare ribs. The beans weren’t anything special, but Anna jazzed them up with salt, pepper, and a little butter and they were much better!
After eating we had a look at the giant vats that the sap tubes feed into, and Anna tried some fresh taffy, which was poured by the owner himself.
The snow was perfect for snowballs, which made an appearance later (wait for it).
I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here but it sort of looks like my mom is the leader of a gang and telling me what’s going to happen if I don’t go get myself some taffy.
After eating we went for a walk through the woods! They have kilometres of trails through the forest, but we just did a small loop. This place actually allows dogs (on leash), so if you wanted to bring your pup for the walk you could! They aren’t allowed in the pancake house, though, so we leave Meadow snoozing at my parents.
All of the lines feeding into one another and running back to the sugar shack.
The alpacas came out to play! I really hoped they would come over to the fence, but they seemed pretty shy.
This pony only seemed to be eating poop, so dad called it over to give it some good stuff…
For the grand finale of the day, we took turns on the zip line! It had a crazy lineup when we first arrived, but close to 3pm there was hardly anyone there. I haven’t zip lined since I was in elementary school I think! Dad was up first. He hasn’t lost the knack. Anna, on the other hand, had some issues and didn’t make it all the way down the hill. She could have used gloves with grip!
Then Rob went and got pelted all the way down! I’m not sure anyone actually him, though…
Kurt slammed into that wall at the bottom. Good speed!
I was a little worried about doing the same, hence this amazing face as I neared the end. Thanks dad!
And that’s it! Great day for an adventure :) If you’ve never been to The Log Farm on Cedarview Road in Nepean, check out this post from a few years ago. While it’s not nearly as big as Wheeler’s, it’s a great little historical spot closer to home. And they’ve got some old-fashioned buckets still.