How to be Canadian: Drummond’s Sugarbush
For those of you who are experiencing a normal March, the snow has probably melted away, there are probably flowers out, and things are looking like there might be warmth one day for you.
Not in my home town.
When I returned home to Canada, I returned home to about 30cm of snow. Lets all remember, I hadn’t seen more than 5 cm of snow in YEARS. And the one year I was home between Korea and Japan, there was hardly any snow at all. The last time I had a winter like this, I was in university.
Since arriving home, it has snowed more times than I can count, and I’ve had days where I open the blinds, stare outside, and then close them and get back into bed. It’s just not worth it. I have forgotten how to be Canadian, apparently. Luckily for me, one of my friends is an incredibly outdoorsy person who loves doing lots of Stuff, and so we planned an adventure to do something I had never actually done before: We went to a sugarbush.
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, a sugarbush is a forest that is farmed to make maple syrup. Vermont and New England, you can tell yourself that you make maple syrup too, but Canada makes three quarters of all the maple syrup on earth, so going to a sugar bush might have been the most Canadian thing I could possibly do when the weather is snowy and shitty but still not freezing.
My friend Tamara is one of those “morning people”. I, on the other hand, need an alarm to wake up at 10am. Despite working at a public school for years, I never adjusted. Either way, I was up so that Tamara could pick me up at 8:30 (she has a car, while I was still too nervous to drive at this point). I made her stop at a convenience store so I could grab a redbull, and felt MUCH better as we headed down the county roads to Spencerville.
“Hey Tamara, that sign says pancakes.”
The sign announcing Drummond’s Pancakes an Sugarbush was a tiny roadside sign next to a farm house. We had to pull into someone’s driveway to turn around (which drew a curious look from the woman clearing her driveway) and went back down the road.
Down a short, winding path, and we entered a picturesque maple forest that looked like something out of Narnia. There was a small looking building (I do have to resist calling it a shack) at the end of the road with a considerable amount of cars parked, considering. It looked like how you expect a maple syrup farm should look.
Apparently, we went in through the side door, and found ourselves in their history room. Drummond’s is one of the oldest businesses in the region, being over 200 years old. The reason this is really impressive is that Drummond’s has been on the same lot of land for longer than Canada has been a country. In their history room, they had displays of the original lot maps from when Canada was known as Upper Canada and was divided into lots and concessions. As a history major, these maps were incredible familiar to me, and many of these lots have been chopped up and divided for houses. So to see an original lot be so well preserved was amazing. I had to be pulled away from the lot books to go get breakfast.
The breakfast menu was simple: pancakes and sausage. I had wanted bacon, but Tamara likes sausage more so at least one of us was happy. There was a big bottle of syrup on each table. As well, Drummond’s are apparently famous for their baked beans. But we were not there for their baked beans. Pancakes and sausage, please and thank you.
The sausages were good, and the pancakes were pretty nice. A touch of lemon juice to the milk could turn their recipe from a basic pancake mix to a really good buttermilk pancake recipe (I love buttermilk pancakes) but really, we were there for the syrup. Our pancakes looked like Noahs Ark in a sea of syrup. Salvation in a sea of glorious, sticky death. Our biggest regret was that we only got two pancakes. I could have eaten one of those massive stacks like they show on TV. So delicious.
Because the weather was edging on the side of miserable (It couldn’t decide between rain or snow) the wagon ride through the forest wasn’t running. Since Tamara is a trooper, and I had a camera and was thinking “this’ll be great for my blog”, we decided to walk the trail. The weather held out, which was pretty nice. It was rather hilarious at some points, because Drummond’s also runs a Halloween wagon ride. I guess taking down all the decorations was too much work, so hidden under a foot of snow would be some abandoned Halloween decorations, or a random ghost hanging from the trees.
The path hit a fork in the road, so we decided to follow the trail of abandoned Halloween decorations. The road was straight. So incredibly straight, I was really amazed, because paths through the forest don’t seem to be straight. And then I thought back to the maps in the shack, and realized we were probably on the original lot lines that divided the plots over 200 years ago. I fangirled for a bit, and took some photos. It was exciting, and I am not ashamed to admit that.
Eventually, we had to turn off the lot line and back into the maple forest. We were both impressed and bummed by how they were collecting the syrup. When you think of a maple tree being tapped, you assume it it’s going to be a bucket attached to a tap in a tree. But that’s old fashioned and labour intensive. For a farm like Drummond’s, it actually looked like a massive spider web. Small tubing wound around the forest like maze, and a tap was hammered into each tree. Each tube connected into a main pipe which would suck the sap right into the sugarshack and boil it down. Modern and innovative, but maybe a little less magical.
The weather was getting a bit more “falling from the sky” than I would have liked, with the rain and snow changing every other second, so when we finished our walk, Tamara bought her massive bottle of maple syrup, and we headed out.
It was a pretty fun day! I definitely want to go to more sugarbushes, because it’lll be a good season for it this year. Sadly, Drummond’s don’t have a site or anything, but they do have a facebook page that is updated once in a while. I would check it out if you’re in the area.