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Maple trees in Richelieu Park. Photo: Hannah Manning

Muséoparc Vanier’s sugar festival moves online—until Apr. 14

By Hannah Manning on March 19, 2021

Spring is in the air and that means it’s maple syrup time! Lanark County, just outside Ottawa, is known as the Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario but closer to home, we have the Vanier Sugar Shack, a hidden gem. (No really, it was in an episode of 613TV’s Hidden Gems of Ottawa.)

While the sugar shack was the victim of a devastating fire in August 2020 and is not currently open to visitors, the spring sugar season is well underway. Lucky for us, the 2021 Sugar Season has been reinvented to allow maple fans all over town to partake. So what’s on tap?

The annual Soup Splash is back, with the help of Beechwood Market and the Vanier BIA. Pre-buy your soup kit online for pickup on March 27, then vote for your favourite. The soup kits include eight soups, each with a twist of maple, made by local businesses: The Bridge Public House, Chilaquiles, Epicuria, Fraser Café, Le St. Laurent, Le Suq, Tasha’s Fine Foods and Union Street Café. Be sure to order by March 24. (editor’s note: the list of participating restaurants was updated to reflect to the latest info.)

 The Vanier Museopark is one of 11 community museums in the city of Ottawa and one of the few francophone museums outside Quebec in Canada. Located in the middle of a 17.5-acre urban park, which has influenced its name, the Museopark enjoys an exceptional setting. Wishing to perpetuate the transmission of French-Canadian history and the traditions of maple syrup production, the Museopark will be sharing several educational videos. Learn about the welfare of sled dogs or the tapping of maple trees in Richelieu Park. For those who can’t visit the park, the tapping of maple trees video, featuring Sheldon McGregor and Gabrielle Fayant, shares the origins and legacy of maple syrup production, and Marc Madore, the Museopark’s chief maple producer, talks about the challenges of an urban sugar bush. It’s a great virtual experience.

This year marks the first edition of Samedis de la Poésie (Poetry Saturdays) – a series of virtual workshops with well-known local poets, who will help you learn to write poetry. Hosted by poets Véronique Sylvain (March 13), Éric Charlebois (March 20), Margaret Michèle Cook and the sculptor Natali Leduc (March 27), all are invited to participate online.

On April 14, the Museopark invites the community to participate in their digital conference The Changing Architectural Landscape of Vanier: What possible avenues? moderated by Jean-François Parent, a former researcher at the Vanier Museopark. The presentation will explore Vanier’s past and explain future projects, to better understand the influence of upcoming transformations. Co-hosted by Heritage Ottawa, the conference will be presented in French with a bilingual Q&A session.

The Museopark’s CreActivity Club is hosting family-friendly online workshops. This weekend (March 20), learn how to make a puppet and on April 3, learn how to make a lantern.

Whether you’re enjoying some maple-inspired soup, learning about an urban sugar bush, or building a lantern, this year’s sugar festival is a pretty sweet treat.

The Vanier Sugar Shack is located at 300 des Pères Blancs Avenue. While the building is currently closed to the public, Richelieu Park is open and a great place for a short walk through the maple trees. Learn more about the museopark online, including the 2021 sugar season.