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Grade Gurus Students first Experience à La Cabane à Sucre

Updated: Apr 3, 2019

Last week, our students satisfied their sweet tooth with a trip to the Bonaventure Sugar Shack in Mirabel. They enjoyed a mini-farm, guided tours and, of course, maple taffy in the snow! For many of our students, this trip was their first time participating in a quintessential Quebec experience. Based on their bright smiles, we’re positive that they’ll be coming back for more!

“When I first arrived in Canada, my friend spoke to me about the sugar shack. Since then, I have been patiently waiting for the end of winter to finally experience this Quebec tradition. Last week, my patience was rewarded, as I finally fulfilled my dream of visiting a sugar shack with my professors and fellow students! I was so happy and excited!” - Jin

“Last week, I went to the sugar shack with my professors and fellow students. Everyone visits the sugar shack at the end of winter. This was my first time at a sugar shack, and I was surprised by how many activities there were. Our trip began with a traditional meal in a huge dining hall. We ate pea soup, eggs, pork rinds, baked beans, sausages, and many different types of pastries. Of course, all of this was accompanied with maple syrup. Afterwards, a tractor took us to the factory where the maple syrup is processed, and we ate maple taffy on snow. At the end of the trip, we visited the gift shop, and I purchased maple candies for my son.” - Élaine

A short history lesson: the sugar shack was an integral element of Quebec culture long before European settlers even set foot on the continent! In fact, indigenous peoples made maple sugar every spring, as the high-caloric food helped them get through the merciless winter months. When the settlers arrived, new technology significantly improved the process of tapping trees and making crystallized maple sugar. Today, sugaring off is a beloved annual tradition enjoyed by thousands of people across the province!

“During the trip, I learned that the sugar shack is only open two months a year, so I made the most of the experience. The food was delicious, and I particularly loved the seasonings, the maple taffy, the crispy pork rinds, and the maple ham. The farm animals were adorable, and the workers were very friendly. Overall, I loved my experience at the sugar shack.” - Vyra

The gift shop of the Bonaventure Sugar Shack offers a variety of maple-laden goodies for visitors to take home, including popcorn, chocolate bars, candies, butter, shortbread, candles, and even soap. And of course, bringing home the shack’s fresh maple syrup is a must!

The calm before the storm… As our students file into the dining room, all is set in place for a traditional Quebec feast!

“This is my seventh or eighth trip to the sugar shack. I never get tired of coming here with my students, because it’s nice to watch them experience such an important part of Quebec culture.” - Souha

“My favorite part of the trip was taking a tour in the tractor. It was massive! I have never sat on a tractor that big! I loved it! Even though it was very cold, we all huddled together to keep ourselves warm.” - Jin

“The Bonaventure Sugar Shack is situated 39 kilometers away from Montreal. In the dining hall, we ate pea soup, coleslaw, maple ham, pork rinds, and ice cream. Still, the maple taffy was my favorite, and I enjoyed the whole process of pouring the syrup on the snow and using a stick to roll it.” - Jin

Fun Fact: It takes about 40 litres of sap to make one litre of maple syrup. As such, the syrup-making process is both demanding and intensive… but as these smiling faces demonstrate, it’s totally worth it.

Aside from the hearty meals, Quebec sugar shacks also offer wagon rides, traditional music and dancing, petting zoos, and tours of the syrup-making process. All these activities contribute to a truly immersive experience, taking you to the centre of Quebec’s cultural milieu!

When it comes to sugary sweetness, nothing beats a classic Quebec sugar shack! Dessert offerings include maple sugar pie, maple donuts, pancakes, and toothachingly sweet candies. Still, no sugar shack meal is complete without maple taffy. At the end of the meal, warm maple syrup is poured on fresh snow in little rows. Then, participants are encouraged to roll the syrup with a popsicle stick and eat the taffy like a lollipop. This maple taffy is a classic treat enjoyed by people of all ages!

With a plethora of filling food options, it’s safe to say that getting through a sugar shack meal is no easy feat. Pea soup, baked ham, scrambled eggs, meat pie, and baked beans – these are just some of the typical fare offered by traditional sugar shacks. A word of advice: pace yourself, because all these dishes will likely be doused in maple syrup. Bon appétit!

It comes as no surprise that Canada produces 80% of the world’s pure maple syrup. But did you know that Quebec alone makes up over 90% of the country’s production? There’s a reason why Quebec prides itself on offering the best maple syrup in the world!

Riding in style! Before embarking on a tour of the facilities, our students partake in a photo shoot in front of their chariot; a massive, heavy-duty tractor.

Foals, goats, turkeys, and miniature pigs – these are a handful of the adorable animals that our students had the opportunity of encountering during their trip to the sugar shack.

Spreading the love! Many of our students purchased treats from the gift shop of the Bonaventure Sugar Shack to bring back home to their families and friends.

Despite the blistering cold, our students are all smiles as they get ready to try maple taffy for the very first time.

This wasn’t the first time that Souha and Dona visited the Bonaventure Sugar Shack, and it certainly won’t be the last! Both teachers believe that trips like these are vital, as they offer students a chance to experience some of Quebec’s most beloved and long-held traditions.

Grade Gurus is more than just learning a new language. Come live this experience with us. Read more about our language school and all the programs we offer.

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