Indulging in sleigh rides, eating maple taffy on snow, stuffing one's face with all-you-can-eat traditional food complemented by either live folk music or an awkward dance mix -- i.e., ever wolf down sugar shack pancakes and baked beans with Enigma playing in the background? I did. It was weird -- all sugar shacks are not made equal, yet in spite of some eccentricities, I've never heard of a bad sugar shack experience, much in the same way I've never heard "maple syrup" and "yuck" in the same sentence. So it was particularly difficult narrowing a list of about 200 cabanes à sucre down to the following nine unique sugar shacks near Montreal, all within one hour's drive of the city.
Looking for a sugar shack within city limits? Try these urban sugar shacks or consider booking an escapade on the sugar shack train, easily accessible via its departure location, at downtown Montreal's central station.
1. Ride the Sugar Shack Steam Train
Cabane à Sucre Bouvrette
A great sugar shack for kids, Cabane à Sucre Bouvrette is equipped with a steam train.
2. Massage and Maple Syrup
Cabane à Sucre Handfield
Cabane à Sucre Handfield is one of the few sugar shacks near Montreal where you can book a spa treatment or massage prior to a traditional sugar shack meal, complete with live fiddler. Overnight accommodations also available.
3. Upscale Insanity
Sugar Shack Au Pied de Cochon
Chef Martin Picard of Au Pied de Cochon (French for "at the foot of the pig"), the mastermind behind what's arguably one of Montreal's ten best restaurants, turns high-fat depravity into an art form on a near daily basis, with a nutritionally disturbing tendency to slather/bathe/corrupt every dish on the menu, including dessert and poutine, with foie gras. Extending his decadent empire in 2009 to include maple products, sugar Shack Au Pied de Cochon was born, serving traditional sugar shack fare with a twist.
4. Ski All Day and Stay Overnight ... Or Just Pig Out
Sucrerie de la Montagne
Enjoy the old-fashioned appeal of Sucrerie de la Montagne, built on a 200-year-old heritage site. Cross-country ski on 25 km of available trail and complement your sugar shack meal with an overnight stay in a log cabin.
5. Hop on a Pony or Visit the Maple Museum
Cabane à Sucre Paquette
Recommended for families. Ask the staff to dress up in pioneer costumes, visit the Maple Museum, enjoy a pony ride and other fun activities at the Cabane à Sucre Paquette. Wheelchair accessible.
6. Apples With That?
Érablière Denis Charbonneau
A sugar shack and an apple orchard, Érablière Denis Charbonneau (a.k.a. Verger Denis Charbonneau) offers not only a traditional all-you-can-eat sugar shack style menu, complete with baked beans, tourtière and pork rinds but also proposes apple-centric menu items such as apple crêpes and veal with applesauce, a rarity in sugar shack land.
7. Five Star Sugar Shack Meal
L'Hermine Maître Sucrier
Enjoy a sleigh ride followed by one of the best sugar shack meals in Quebec, at award-winning L'Hermine Maître Sucrier. Wheelchair accessible.
8. Eat Maple Syrup AND Improve Your Batting Average
Cabane à Sucre des Sportifs
Can't say this is the most authentic sugar shack, but sports types will love it. The Cabane à Sucre des Sportifs offers indoor hockey facilities and is also equipped with a baseball batting machine and a dining hall large enough to host corporate events.
9. Singles Night and Bingo Under the Same Sugar Shack Roof
Érablière Le Rossignol
From bingo night to meeting your soul mate, Érablière Le Rossignol is not your typical sugar shack. Only 30 minutes from Montreal.