- Sugar Shack fever in Canada
- One of the best
- Generally during February and May
- Great activity for the family
- Maple syrup history
- Started with Indigenous people
- Did you know ?
- Day Trip discovering the Charbonneau Sugar Shack
- How to find the right Sugar Shack (Cabane a Sucre) for you ?
- We picked - Érablière Charbonneau
- Video experience
- What to expect at Érablière Charbonneau ?
- 1. Érablière Charbonneau location & history
- Reservation highly recommended
- Family feel
- 2. Menu & Restaurant at Charbonneau
- Homemade style
- 3. Denis Charbonneau Ciders (Vergers & Cidrerie)
- General store with various products
- Cider tasting at the back
- 4. Snow Toffee experience
- 5. Miscellaneous Charbonneau Sugar Shack activities
- Tips (for the best experience)
- Make a “Reservation” for the restaurant!
- Check website for deals
- Quick summary
Sugar Shack fever in Canada
Springtime sparks a fever in Canada. The fever we're talking about is nothing to worry about. 1. It means the weather is warming up which makes most people happy and 2. it also means the production of maple syrup is kicking off and 3. that it's time to visit a Sugar Shack!
Read on as you'll see why we recommend Érablière Charbonneau in the Montreal region, 5 suggested activities once you're there and more importantly, a copy of our Vlog embedded from YouTube ! Hope you enjoy.
One of the best
In the online blog era, we are cognizant there are many Blogs and online posts about maple syrup. However we wanted to create a blog of our own and share our experience from the Charbonneau Sugar Shack. We've visited a few Sugar Shacks over the years and felt that Érablière Charbonneau was something special.
Read on or Watch our YouTube video to see top activities you can expect at the Charbonneau Sugar Shack.
Generally during February and May
Maple trees are predominant in the Ontario and Quebec region, which is why you'll find many Sugar Shacks ! The Sugar Shack also known as “Cabane à Sucre” in French, start to produce maple syrup between February and May. This period kicks off fresh product production such as tasty syrup, toffee and candies and much more as you'll see in our video from the confectionery stores.
Great activity for the family
People generally visit the Sugar Shacks for the maple syrup and generous meals with the focal point around Maple. It's a great activity for the family, where you can even spend an entire day exploring. Most Sugar Shacks are located outside the city centres and offer tractor rides, toffee on a stick, outdoor activities. This blog focuses on our experience discovering the Charbonneau Sugar Shack or in French Érablière Charbonneau.
Read on to see what activities awaits for you in Saint-Grégoire
Maple syrup history
Here's a short history about Maple and Sugar Shacks in the Montreal region.
First of all, we love Maple trees and the products they create. However we often disregard its origin. We decided to start with a quick search on Wikipedia to understand more about it.
Started with Indigenous people
The Wikipedia article explains that the Indigenous people living in northeastern North America were the first groups known to have produced maple syrup and maple sugar. The maple production was a cause for celebrations, used in many aboriginal dishes which also replaced the European salt. Some tribes also recognize the maple sap as a source of nutrition and energy.
Did you know ?
Amongst many legends, this is the most famous “maple sap used instead of water to cook venison served to a chief.” Pretty interesting, so if you want to read more about it, feel free to check Wikipedia out!
Day Trip discovering the Charbonneau Sugar Shack
To celebrate the arrival of spring, we recommend a day trip to visit a Sugar Shack. It's a fun way to enjoy a good meal and an outing during the weekend.
As mentioned above, Ontario and Quebec have many Sugar Shacks to visit. Discovering Destinations has visited quite a few and our best experience was in Quebec.
How to find the right Sugar Shack (Cabane a Sucre) for you ?
With so many Sugar Shack options, we understand that it can be a challenge to pick the right one. Especially if you don’t know how to tell which is the best.
- As a starting point, you can use the trusty friend “Google Maps” like we did
- Then you can search the web for Blogs and further suggestions to help make your mind. To make your decision making a little easier.
- Listen for recommendations. We find our best discoveries come from word of mouth.
One of the Blogs that we particularly enjoyed for their easy to read and general information (options of Sugar Shack around Montreal) is 'Mtl Blog'. More specifically, their post about “8 Quebec Cabanes a Sucre where you can satisfy your sweet tooth”.
We picked - Érablière Charbonneau
After searching Google Maps and reading the Mtl Blog, we decided to visit the “Érablière Charbonneau” for the following reasons:
- In 2019, they had really good reviews on Google and still current today with 4.5 (as of February – 2020);
- They are roughly 40-50min drive from the Montreal downtown region. The perfect distance for a road trip.
- The Charbonneau Sugar Shack official website demonstrated lots of activities and a great menu!
Read on below for what to expect when visiting this amazing Sugar Shack. We invite you to read our Post, which includes Tips on how to get there, our overall experience with the restaurant and other activities on the grounds. Feel free to save the link for future reading or even share with family and friends for a future visit.
Here's our Vlog experience for the Charbonneau Sugar Shack from our YouTube Channel. See it for yourself and imagine yourself already there !
What to expect at Érablière Charbonneau ?
1. Érablière Charbonneau location & history
Érablière Charbonneau is located roughly 40-50min driving distance from Montreal downtown.
The Sugar Shack experience usually starts between February to May. It may vary year to year, so be sure to check their website for specific dates. Besides the Maple season, we also understood they are open year around.
Reservation highly recommended
We consider ourselves extremely lucky. We arrived at the Érablière Charbonneau in the middle of Sugar Shack season on a sunny Sunday. When asked if we had a reservation, our hearts almost stopped. Luckily, they made all the necessary arrangements to find us a 2 person table in the busy restaurant.
The Érablière Charbonneau is a family-run operation. They produce maple syrup and derivative products with customer satisfaction as their main objective. We felt a positive vibe throughout the entire experience, from the restaurant to the toffee shack, tractor ride and various shops. Every employee was fun and easy to interact with. Consider this when you plan to spend a great time with your friends and family!
You can check their “History page” for their really inspiring dream come true testimonial.
2. Menu & Restaurant at Charbonneau
Our experience at the restaurant was amazing. We paid a very affordable fix value per person for an “ALL you can EAT” experience.
All food is served Fresh with a Homemade style. If you want seconds, all you need is ask.
As described below, they have 3 course meal. Feel free to consult their online menu
- Snacks, salads, Coffee, milk (or any other drink)
- The main meal as a Brunch style with sausages, eggs, homemade bread. On the table is a large bottle of Maple syrup which you can use to pour over your plate.
- DESSERTS !!! OMG, amazingly delicious donuts, pancakes and other delicacies
- Surprise. Once we paid for our meal, we received a “Ticket” for a free tasting experience at the Denis Charbonneau Cider (Verges & Cidrerie) and a “Snow Toffee on a stick”.
3. Denis Charbonneau Ciders (Vergers & Cidrerie)
As previously mentioned, we received a ticket for a free glass of cider. So after our brunch, we took a tractor trailer ride across an apple orchard to the Denis Charbonneau Ciders. Once the tractor stops, you'll notice a General Store plus the “Cider Tasting” in a separate entrance.
The ride lasts between 5-10 minutes. There's a nice view from the region, including the orchard and snow covered hills. Obviously you can always return during the summer to see everything in bloom or during fall for apple picking.
General store with various products
At the General Store you can buy anything and everything made from maple. They have ciders, barbecue sauce, various types of maple syrup, hand cremes etc. Everything looks really good, so be forewarned that you might be tempted to purchase everything there 😉
Cider tasting at the back
The cider tasting is located a few minutes away, in a separate shack. The cider hall has a warm looking reception with various bars to serve multiple clients at a time. You will be treated by a staff member / cider connoisseur who will guide your taste buds with various types of ciders (dry, single fermented, double fermented, etc)
This experience is also displayed in our YouTube video, here in case you want to check it out!
Additionally, we recommend you review the Official Website in order to check the hours of operation.
4. Snow Toffee experience
The snow toffee experience takes place in a separate shack, located beside the main restaurant. As described in our video, the toffee comes from the tree sap which is boiled beyond syrup consistency. Once the syrup reaches a thicker consistency, it is then dropped on a sheet of snow. Upon contact, the now toffee instantly cools and hardens. This is when you grab the popsicle stick to peel off the snow.
Inside the shack you'll find many people waiting in line for their candy treat. There is a staff member tending to an old wood oven making sure the fire keeps going. There is also a long island filled with fresh snow, waiting to receive the toffee. YUM !
5. Miscellaneous Charbonneau Sugar Shack activities
Back to Érablière Charbonneau you can spend a great time around checking their activities outside which include but not limited to:
- A brisk walk in the middle of the forest with various demonstrations of tree sap collection in tin buckets
- There's also a hiking and snowshoe trail
- As mentioned above, snow toffee experience !
- Interact with the cute animals they have around, we noticed a turkey, a llama and lamb
- Perfect for children to release their energy is a playground with slides and swings
- Finally, be sure to visit the Maple Boutique, where you can purchase many Maple Syrup products, maple fudge (or sucre à la creme), home made products and some other miscellaneous gifts.
Tips (for the best experience)
Make a “Reservation” for the restaurant!
- We arrived without a reservation, despite this we consider ourselves extremely lucky since they found us a table. However spring time is really busy since the weather is nicer and everyone wants to go out and enjoy. For the best experience, we recommend that you reserve in advance
Check website for deals
- Visit their Official Website to see if they are offering “Rebate coupon”. We noticed as of March 2020, they are offering $3.00CAD rebate for Adults (1 coupon per person). We certify that it's worth the visit with or without a coupon. However should they have one, be sure to print it to present it at the time of your visit.
- The Sugar Shack address:
Érablière Charbonneau (sugar shack)
45 Chemin du Sous-Bois, Mont-Saint-Grégoire, QC J0J 1K0