When most people think about maple syrup production, they likely envision pancakes in the countryside, not a city with a population just shy of 1 million—and they certainly don’t imagine arson and royalty. All that changes when they visit the Vanier Museopark Sugar Shack in Ottawa, Canada, believed to be the world’s most urban maple syrup producer.
Located about five kilometers from Ottawa’s Parliament Hill in the historically francophone neighborhood of Vanier, the non-profit Vanier Sugar Shack is surrounded by 17.5 acres of forest. Each year, an army of volunteer “maple farmers” taps the trees and collects the maple sap. They also collect sap from their neighbor, the governor general of Canada. As the governor general represents the monarchy, the maple farmers are essentially harvesting sap that’s fit for a king. Their efforts result in 400 to 600 liters of maple syrup a year.
In 2020, tragedy struck the Vanier Museopark’s Sugar Shack when a devastating arson attack decimated the historic property. In a remarkable show of community solidarity, rebuilding efforts began immediately. The new and improved building reopened just in time for the 2023 maple harvest.
Know Before You Go
The Museopark’s annual Sugar Festival occurs in late March through early April. The program typically includes culinary experiences, traditional music, family activities, and ample opportunities to taste the season’s first batch of maple syrup.